Are we sure anyone has a stronger MVP case than Nikola Jokic this season?
After taking home MVP honors for the 2020-21 season, the Nuggets center has been even better this year, providing nightly reminders of just how impactful he is. Your last reminder? A triple-double of 29 points, 13 rebounds and 10 assists in a 116-105 road win over the Pelicans, the Nuggets’ fourth straight win.
In a year in which the Nuggets have been decimated by injuries, the team remains a major player in the West’s playoff picture, sitting just two games out of the fourth seed following Friday night’s win. With starters in and out of the lineup, and Jamal Murray still undressed due to ACL rehab, Jokic’s outstanding play has been one of the few constants for Denver this season.
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To emphasize that point, the Nuggets aren’t just treading water with Jokic in the lead, they’re moving into the top half of the Western Conference standings.
By now, we know that Jokic is a threat to record a triple-double on any occasion. With his latest triple-double at Crescent City on Friday, he tied a career-best month with six triple-doubles in January alone, bringing his tally to 12 in 43 games, four fewer than the total of him in 72 games in 2020-21. .
MORE: Stat set for Jokic, 2022 All-Star starters
Unsurprisingly, that places him alongside elite company.
Nikola Jokic just recorded his sixth triple-double… in January. It is the second time he has 6 triple-doubles in a calendar month.
The only other primary center to accomplish that feat? Wilt Chamberlain, who did it 4 times. pic.twitter.com/wsbh7sV9we
— Statistics and information from ESPN (@ESPNStatsInfo) January 29, 2022
Oh, and the Nuggets have one game left this month when they head to Milwaukee to face another MVP candidate in Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Bucks.
Speaking of elite company, Antetokounmpo is one of 14 multiple MVP winners and one of 12 to win the award in consecutive years. As the season progresses, so do the rumors about Jokic’s ability to join them as back-to-back MVP.
Let’s see how your case plays out.
Nikola Jokic’s numbers
Through 43 games, Jokic is averaging 26.2 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7.7 assists per game while shooting 57.1 percent from the field and 37.5 percent from 3-point range.
The numbers compare pretty well to his MVP numbers in the 2020-21 season, especially when you consider the fact that he’s playing a little less.
Nikola Jokic’s competition for the MVP
On TSN’s most recent MVP ladder, Jokic landed in fourth place behind Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant and DeMar DeRozan.
It will not be fourth in the next one.
With Durant out indefinitely due to an MCL sprain and the Bulls coming back down to earth, Antetokounmpo stands as Jokic’s main competition along with 76ers center Joel Embiid, who has entered the MVP pitch on a dominant streak.
As dominant as Embiid has been, his Sixers are only two wins better than the Nuggets at this point in the season.
Will the Nuggets win enough games for Nikola Jokic to be the MVP?
Let’s say the Nuggets stay somewhere between fourth and sixth all season, is that good enough to take home the MVP award?
History can be our guide:
|Season||most valuable Player||Team||Record||Seed|
|2020-21||Nicholas Jokic||nuggets||47-25 (.653)||3rd|
|2019-20||Giannis Antetokounmpo||Dollars||56-17 (.761)||1st|
|2018-19||Giannis Antetokounmpo||Dollars||60-22 (.732)||1st|
|2017-18||james harden||rockets||65-17 (.793)||1st|
|2016-17||russell westbrook||Thunder||47-35 (.573)||6th|
Five seasons have passed, but Westbrook was named MVP after averaging a triple-double to lead the Thunder to the sixth seed and a berth in the NBA Playoffs in his first season without Durant. Is Jokic’s season that different?
According to RAPTOR Prediction by FiveThirtyEightthis Nuggets team is projected to finish fourth in the West with a 48-34 (.585) record, while the 76ers are projected to finish third in the East with a 50-32 (.610) record.
If Jokic continues his stellar play, the Nuggets could beat those projections, making their case for taking home more MVP hardware even stronger.
This year’s MVP race may be a little different than previous years, but that doesn’t make it any less fun. The Joker will remain at the center of all conversations.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.