Nikola Jokic
Bart Young/NBAE via Getty Images

Nikola Jokic Is The 2020-2021 NBA Most Valuable Player

Nikola Jokic appears to have climbed the mountain after much speculation. NBA Insider Shams Charnia reported earlier today that the Joker has beaten out the likes of Joel Embiid and scoring champion Stephen Curry to become the 2021 NBA MVP. This may come as a surprise to some, but this award is well deserved for the Serbian big man. The Denver Nuggets entered the season as one of the favorites to win the Western Conference, but tragedy struck. In the middle of the season, star guard Jamal Murray tore his ACL and was ruled out for the rest of the year. Instead of folding, the Nuggets turned it up the notch, in large part due to Jokic’s heroics. He was already considered the best passing center in the league, but his career highs of 26.4 points and 8.3 assists helped carry the depleted roster to the 3rd seed in the Western Conference. His exceptional play continued into the playoffs, as Jokic and the Nuggets made sure the Portland Trail Blazers would not upset them, defeating Damian Lillard and company in 6 games during the first round.

While it is already an incredible story that Jokic has accomplished this record-breaking season, there are some more stats that make it even more astounding. The Serbian is the first center to be named Most Valuable Player since Shaquille O’Neal dominated the league in the 1999-2000 season. Furthermore, Jokic is also the lowest draft pick to win the prestigious award, as he was selected 41st overall back in the 2014 draft. As the case has been for the past few years, the Joker has continued with the NBA’s recent transformation of playstyle. Where Steph Curry redefined the half-court offense with his incredible three-point shooting, Jokic has revolutionized the center position. Big men like O’Neal and others used to dominate in the paint and pick up a majority of their points by simply being bigger and stronger than their opponents. However, that is not the case for Jokic and the Nuggets. Head Coach Mike Malone is able to play the whole offense through #15, as he is one of the best playmakers and shooters at the center position the NBA has ever seen. Nothing encapsulates Jokic’s effectively unorthodox offensive style more than his signature “Sombor Shuffle.” The Joker might not be as athletic as other big men in the league, but this award is validation that he doesn’t need to be. Nikola Jokic has completely bucked the trend of the “soft European big” and shown that he one of the greatest foreign players the NBA has seen in decades.

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