Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic won the 2020-21 NBA Most Valuable Player award, becoming the first player in franchise history and the first second-round pick in league history to earn this honor.
Jokic has started all 72 games for the Nuggets and averaged 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game – all setting or matching career highs. The Serb shot 56.6% from the ground, including 38.8% from 3 points, and made 86.8% of his free throws. All-Star for the third year in a row, Jokic added 1.3 steals and 0.7 blocks per game.
Jokic got 91 of 101 first-place votes for a total of 971 points. Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid was second in the vote with 586 points and Golden State Warriors goaltender Stephen Curry was third with 453. Curry, however, received five first-place votes against just one given to Embiid. .
Denver center Nikola Jokic is on 2020-2021 #NBA MVP! 🏆
– INQUIRER Sports (@INQUIRERSports) June 9, 2021
Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks (one vote for first place), MVP of each of the previous two seasons, and Chris Paul of the Phoenix Suns (two votes for first place) were fourth and fifth, respectively.
Jokic is averaging 31.4 points and 10.3 rebounds in seven playoff games. The Nuggets were third in the Western Conference at 47-25 and knocked out the Portland Trail Blazers in the first round in six games. Denver started their conference semifinal streak against the Phoenix Suns on Monday with a 122-105 loss.
Perhaps the biggest indicator of Jokic’s MVP status was how the Nuggets fared when the star guard. Jamal Murray has gone down for the season with an ACL tear on April 12. With Jokic carrying the team, the Nuggets were 13-5 down the stretch to secure the third seed.
“I am so happy and I respect so much the hard work and dedication he has put into reaching this point,” coach Michael Malone said in a statement.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to coach Nikola his entire career and see his growth from a second round pick trying to teach the NBA to an eternal All-Star and now the MVP is truly amazing. He deserves this honor and I don’t take it for granted to coach a player, and more importantly someone like Nikola.
– History of the NBA (@NBAHistory) June 9, 2021
Jokic recorded 60 double doubles and 16 triple doubles for the year. He topped both Dikembe Mutombo for the most doubles-doubles in franchise history and Fat Lever for the most career trebles. He is also only the third player in NBA history, after Elgin Baylor and Wilt Chamberlain, to finish a season in the league’s top-five in points, rebounds and assists.
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