Final MVP check-in of the season: can Nikola Jokic hang on?

Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets
Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages

The 2023-24 NBA regular season is just about in the books, as it will wrap up on Sunday with every single team in the league in action. There’s still a lot at stake, as the seedings and playoff matchups are almost entirely unsettled going into game 82.

But at this point, most regular season individual awards and honors should be largely determined. Players will have one last chance to make their case and send a message on the season’s final day, but these things should be decided based on one’s overall body of work. With 81 of 82 games in the bag, those bodies of work should be just about complete.

The biggest award of them all, and one that we’ve been monitoring all season, is the Kia MVP award. Michael C. Wright of releases his MVP ladder each week of the season, and he delivered this year’s final edition early on Saturday morning.

Nikola Jokic the MVP favorite

Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic ended up exactly where he’s been ranked for several weeks, first place. Jokic reigns supreme atop the rankings and appears favored and poised to take home his third league MVP award in four seasons.

This is the 10th week in a row that Jokic has been at the top of the MVP ladder, and he’s now led the charge for 14 of a possible 22 ladders. Joel Embiid is the only other player to lead the rankings this season, as he was on top of the ladder for eight weeks before suffering a meniscus injury.

The rest of the top 5

There was some movement in the final ladder. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Thunder came in second place after returning from a four-game absence this week. Luka Doncic of the Mavericks fell from second to third in the ladder. Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Bucks stayed in fourth place, and Jayson Tatum of the Celtics remained in fifth.

This ladder isn’t quite gospel, but it’s a very good indicator of where things stand. The fact that Jokic has been dominating this race for almost the entire season bodes extremely well for his chances of bringing home the award. 

It’s obviously not the main prize for Jokic and the Nuggets, but winning a third MVP trophy would put the Joker in rarified air and elite company. It would go a long way toward cementing his legacy as one of the best players the NBA has ever seen.