Over the past few months of NBA basketball, the MVP race took a nosedive in competition. At one point, there was a close race featuring LeBron James, Kevin Durant, James Harden, and a few others. Injuries have since claimed most of the field of guys in the race knocking them out of contention. So who is left after the smoke clears? Denver’s Nikola Jokic has his name planted firmly at the top of the MVP race. As of Thursday, April 15th, Jokic received 90 out of 101 first-place votes for MVP, making him the clear front runner.
So, does Jokic receiving that many first place votes close the door on his competition? Lets discuss:
YES JOKIC IS THE MVP, END THE COMPETITION
Now obviously, Denver fans would advocate for Jokic to walk away with MVP and they would be right in a way. Jokic has made his case that he is MVP caliber well before this season. Since 2019, Jokic has finished in the top ten of MVP voting every year. In 2019, Jokic posted a line of 20.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game, showing he’s worthy of attention around the NBA.
Then in 2020, Jokic produced a nearly identical stat line again, catching the eye of the NBA. Finally, in the current season, Jokic has taken his game to another level. Through 57 games, Jokic is averaging 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 8.8 assists per game, raising him to the MVP leader he is this season.
Jokic has separated himself from the field because he is redefining the center position entirely. Jokic holds the NBA record for assists per game in a season by a center with 8.7. A seven-footer passing the ball as efficiently as any point guard is unseen. Based on previous winners, the award is given to the most valuable player and if a center who essentially averages a triple-double and is redefining his position overall isn’t the most valuable, I don’t know what is.
Jokic has become one of the best players in the league and the best center overall so far. If I’m the NBA, that MVP trophy should be landing in Denver by the end of the season.
NO KEEP THE COMPETITION GOING FOR MVP
Thus far, the only reason Nikola Jokic doesn’t walk away with the MVP would be the play of fellow NBA center, Joel Embiid. Despite Embiid putting up more points per game than Jokic with 30 points per game, they are rebounding similar numbers. Despite missing nearly 20 games, Embiid has kept his name in the running for MVP. Embiid has the 76ers competing in the East yet again as they lead the East at 38-17 overall.
Going forward, Embiid will need to continue his tear of 30 points and ten-plus rebounds nearly every game to keep up with Jokic, considering Embiid isn’t dishing assists at the rate Jokic is.
In the most unbiased way possible, Nikola Jokic is the NBA MVP as of right now. It is undeniable that despite the play of Embiid or even Steph Curry right now, Jokic is the MVP. Jokic is redefining his position and showing that even seven-foot centers can run the floor and dish the rock as well as score and rebound. Any player that changes how a team prepares for their position, is the most valuable, no doubt about it.
FINAL VERDICT: Nikola Jokic will be the 2020-2021 KIA NBA MVP
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Stats from NBA.com, ESPN.com and bleacherreport.com