If Nikola Jokic doesn’t win the 2021-22 NBA Most Valuable Player award, is it because the Denver Nuggets are one of the smaller markets? Or is it because he’s an excellent candidate in a crowded list of deserving MVPs?
As we race towards the playoffs and people start talking more about the MVP race, Nikola Jokic finds himself in a familiar position. The current MVP is looking to defend his spot as the league’s best player and his efforts aren’t going unnoticed.
Jokic followed up back-to-back triple-doubles and a 30-point fourth quarter and OT showing against the New Orleans Pelicans with a masterclass 38 points, 18 rebound, seven assist performance over the Sacramento Kings last week.
He ducked, juked, and weaved his way around a lackluster Kings defense:
Honestly, he looks like a grown man against boys out there and it’s getting embarrassing.
He doubled down on the excellent week by beating his main rival for the award and the league’s second-best center in Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers. Jokic lead the Denver Nuggets to a 19-point comeback with 22 points, 13 rebounds, and 8 assists while Embiid had 34 points and 9 rebounds.
It was also the first time in 825 days that the two had played against one another as Joel always seems to miss their matchups…
You log onto Twitter before, during, and after the game and it’s flooded with praise for the best player in the world right now. But maybe that’s because I write for Nugg Love and I’m exposed to it.
There must be a cohort of NBA fans who aren’t seeing Nikola’s brilliance on display night in and night out. Any time I listen in to a national podcast or major publication, there seems to be people screaming from the rooftops to take notice of what Jokic is doing.
But is Nikola Jokic really not getting his due attention?
David Aldridge, The Athletic had a polarizing tweet the other day, urging people to stop treating Jokic like nobody’s heard of him:
He does have some points but the best comments were the ones that point out that his publication no longer has a Denver Nuggets beat writer. They thought they’d be better off leaving the Nuggets to the occasional national writer, taking away one of the writers who might be out there beating the drum for the Serbian MVP.
The idea that Jokic isn’t getting enough attention loses some steam when you remember that he did win the award last season.
Before Jamal Murray went down in April, Jokic was clearly a frontrunner for the MVP and his Nuggets were one of the favorites to win it all.
I’d argue that it was Murray’s injury that actually solidified Jokic’s case for MVP. After the Jamal injury, Nikola turned it up and the Nuggets held onto a top-four seed in a crowded Western Conference.
After only nine games, Michael Porter Jr. went down this season and it looked again like the Nuggets would falter in the face of an injury to a major player. But again, Jokic is dragging this team to respectability with a record of 41-28 after the Philadelphia win (note, that record is only two losses behind the 76ers if they were both in the same conference).
Jokic clearly has a case for the MVP award and if he wins it, he’d be a well-deserving winner. Is he getting enough attention, well, if he wins, then yes. If he doesn’t repeat as the league’s MVP, then possibly. In all honesty, I’m too invested in this team to see what it’s like from a neutral point of view.
But after beating Joel Embiid in brilliant fashion, after the month he has had, and after the season he has put together, you’d look pretty stupid not voting for him.