Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic wins NBA MVP for 3rd time in 4 seasons

Denver Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic continued to add to his legacy as one of the NBA’s greatest players on Wednesday by winning his third Most Valuable Player trophy.

Jokic won the award for the third time in four seasons, following last season’s MVP, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid. Jokic finished second and third in the voting with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks, respectively.

“It has to start with the teammates; without them, I can’t do anything,” Jokic said Wednesday on TNT after being named MVP. “The coaches, the players, the organization, the medical staff, the strength coaches, the development coaches. It’s a big circle. But I wouldn’t be what I am without them.”

Jokic’s third MVP win isn’t close. He received 79 first-place votes and a total of 926 points. Gilgeous-Alexander received 15 first-place votes and 640 points. Doncic received four first-place votes and 566 points. Milwaukee Bucks’ Giannis Antetokounmpo finished fourth, and New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson finished fifth in the voting.

“There are a lot of players who deserve it,” Jokic said of the MVP race. “It’s probably the details and the little things [that determine it].”

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Jokic became the first center in six decades to win the MVP three times in four seasons; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it from 1973-74 to 1976-77. Jokic is the ninth three-time MVP in NBA history.

“It’s hard to distinguish greatness from greatness,” Denver coach Michael Malone said in early April of how Jokic has improved from previous MVP seasons. “And then he’s been around for years now. I know for the last six years, we’ve had the best record by far in the Western Conference, and I think we’re second in the NBA, Milwaukee at that point.”

In his ninth season, Jokic played 79 games, his most since playing 80 games in the 2018-19 season. According to research by ESPN Stats & Information, he joins Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in NBA history to finish in the top five in total points (fifth), rebounds (third) and assists (second). Elgin Baylor is the only player to ever do so.

Jokic joined Oscar Robertson as the second player to record 2,000 points, 900 rebounds and 600 assists in a season.

Jokic averaged 26.4 points, 12.4 rebounds and 9.0 assists — ranking in the top 10 in each statistical category. He has 25 triple-doubles, second only to Sacramento Kings’ Domantas Sabonis (26), while averaging 58.3% shooting from the field and 35.9% from behind the arc.

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Led by Jokic, Denver finished fifth in offensive efficiency, eighth in defensive efficiency and fourth in net rating. The Nuggets are one of four teams to finish in the top 10, with the Celtics, Knicks and Thunder all three.

Denver finished fifth in the league for the best start, and Jokic’s value to Denver was undeniable. The Nuggets posted a plus-11.8 net efficiency when Jokic was on the court, but a minus-8.6 when he was off the court. Jokic led the NBA with a plus-682 plus-minus. The Nuggets were minus-251 with their franchise player off the court.

Of course, the humble Jokic often says he doesn’t care about personal honors as much as he wants championships. Jokic is trying to make the Nuggets world champions again.

If he were to do so, the Nuckets big man would put together a four-year streak accomplished by only four other all-time greats. LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Bill Russell are the only players to win three regular season MVPs and two titles in a four-year span.

“Nicola has matured and his ability to make everyone around him better,” Malone said. “If you win a championship, we’re going to run it again, but in Bruce’s place [Brown] And Jeff [Green]We will try to field young players and we have a better record than last year.

“We missed Jamaal Murray [23] Games. Nicola understood that it was my responsibility to help be a better player [the younger role players] And all the other guys have to figure out what their roles are, how to play on both ends of the floor, and most importantly, make those guys better.”

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Statistics and information from ESPN contributed to this report.

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