Nikola Jokic is running away with the MVP award

Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images)
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets. (Photo by C. Morgan Engel/Getty Images) /

We all know by now that Nikola Jokic doesn’t care about winning the MVP. He has made that clear, even when the national punditry and his fellow stars were trying to goad him into the discourse for the past couple of years. That hasn’t, however, stopped him from lapping the field in the MVP race once again.

Despite concerns about complacency following a championship run, Nikola Jokic has picked up where he left off to start the season, leaving no doubt as to who the best basketball player in the world is. Not only has not missed a beat, but he has also not missed a game so far. Through 12 games, he is averaging 29.7 points, 14.1 rebounds, 9.2 assists, 1 steal, and 0.8 blocks on 57.3% shooting from the field.

Even though Jokic has increased his usage, his efficiency hasn’t taken a hit

Jokic is once again having an incredible high-efficiency, high-volume scoring season. He has a True Shooting percentage of 64.9, despite his three-point shot not falling (30%). What makes this level of efficiency even more impressive is the fact that he has a career-high usage rate. Especially with the absence of Jamal Murray, who already missed four games this season, Jokic ramped up his usage. Yet, the increase in field goal attempts didn’t result in a significant drop-off in efficiency. Not only is he in the top 5 in usage rate, but he is also the only player in the NBA who is in the top 5 in points, rebounds, and assists per game. That is simply an unmatched all-around offensive dominance.

Despite losing some depth in the offseason and their second-best player to injury, the Denver Nuggets are taking care of business night in and night out. They are 9-3 for the season and are top-10 in both offensive and defensive ratings. A huge part of this credit rightfully goes to Nikola Jokic.

After leading the league in all on/off metrics last season, Jokic continues to be the best among all MVP candidates so far this season. The Nuggets are 30.2 points per 100 possessions better with him on the floor than off. When Jokic is playing, Denver has a net rating of +13.4, an all-time dominant number. (yet somehow still behind the extremely dominant Boston Celtics this season)

Jokic may join elite company if he wins MVP this season

It’s obviously still very early in the season. A lot of these numbers are subject to change with a larger sample size. However, we have seen this game before. Jokic’s on-court impact is eerily similar to what he has been doing the past few years. If anything, his efficiency should go up when Murray comes back and his three-point shot starts falling.

Joel Embiid, Jayson Tatum, Luka Doncic, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will surely be heard from in this MVP race. Yet, Jokic has a proven track record of being the best regular-season player in the league for the past three seasons. If he stays healthy throughout the season, it’s his award to lose. He may have controversially been snubbed in the MVP voting last season, but he is on track to become the seventh player ever to win three MVPs in four seasons.

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