Nikola Jokic dominates final ESPN MVP straw poll, closing in on 3rd award in 4 years

Apr 2, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) before the game against
Apr 2, 2024; Denver, Colorado, USA; Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) before the game against / Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

For years now, Tim Bontemps of ESPN has been conducting straw polls for the NBA’s MVP Award. He’ll reach out to 100 prospective voters and media members within the industry, having them fill out a mock ballot at different points throughout the season.

Botemps conducted his third and final straw poll of the season recently, publishing the results on Wednesday. And the results confirmed what most of us had already assumed; Nikola Jokic is lapping the field.

Jokic dominating the MVP race

Not only is the Joker leading the way in the polls, but he’s also doing so in a dominating fashion, and he’s expanded his lead since the last poll. Jokic received 85 of the 100 first-place votes in the poll, receiving 14 second-place votes, and one third-place votes.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Thunder came in second place with 10 first-place votes and no other player had more than two. Jokic and SGA were the only two players to appear on all 100 ballots.

In the previous poll, which was conducted in mid-February, Jokic led the way, but received just 69 first-place votes and 889 points overall, compared to SGA who was in second with 24 first-place votes and 709 points. In the latest version, Jokic received 953 points to just 626 for Shai.

Jokic joining elite company in NBA history

Since the NBA adopted this voting and points format for MVP in 2016, only one MVP has won the award by more than 300 points; Jokic in 2021. His 953 points in this poll were also the most points anyone has had in one of Bontemps’ straw polls since Jokic got 969 in the final poll of that 2021 season.

This poll isn’t a 100% guarantee, but it is an extremely good indicator. Barring a near miracle, Jokic will win his third NBA MVP Award in four years. He’ll join an incredible group featuring only eight other players - eight of the best to ever play the game.

It’s time for people to accept the Joker into the top level of the pantheon. He is among the elite of the elite, and only adding to his legacy. Only 29 years old, when it’s all said and done, Nikola will likely be able to stack his resume up against almost anyone in NBA history. Appreciate the greatness we get to see on a nightly basis.