Joel Embiid and LeBron James were neck and neck for MVP for much of the season. Unfortunately for us, they’re now both sidelined with leg injuries. Fortunately for Nikola Jokić, his path to becoming MVP is as open as it’s ever been. Hakeem Olajuwon, Steve Nash, Dirk Nowitzki, and Giannis Antetokounmpo are the only foreign NBA players in league history to win MVP. If Jokić were to win it this year, he’d join an elite class as the first Serbian-born NBA MVP.

Like the Heat, the Nuggets were disappointing at the start of the season. Through 10 games, the Nuggets were 5-5 and did not resemble the team that came back down 3-1 twice in the NBA bubble. As of now, the Nuggets are ranked sixth in the west. Coming off a close loss to the Pelicans, they now have an easy next three games. With the seventh easiest remaining schedule, Nikola Jokić and the Nuggets could be primed for takeoff.

Fair or not, LeBron and Embiid are out of sight and therefore, out of mind. So with Nikola Jokić having the best season of his career, there’s not much that can stop him from winning the MVP.

The “Joker’s” Season

Denver isn’t a huge market that garners the spotlight. If you’ve been sleeping on the Joker’s season, it’s time to wake the hell up!

Nikola Jokić is averaging career highs across the board.

Points: 27 Rebounds: 11.2 Assists: 8.6 Field Goal Percent: 56.6 3pt Percent: 41.6 Steals: 1.6

Oh, and by the way… he’s a Center.

What Nikola Jokić has accomplished this season is unprecedented for a Center. Russell Westbrook and Oscar Robertson are the only players in NBA history to average a triple-double for a season. The difference between Jokić and the others is his efficiency. Not only is he shooting close to 57 percent from the field, but he’s shooting almost 42 percent from three. Good enough to tie for 27th in the league.

The Nuggets wouldn’t be the team they are without Nikola Jokić initiating the offense. Per Basketball-Reference, Nikola Jokić is number one in Offensive Win Shares, Win Shares, Win Shares Per 48 Minutes, Box Plus/Minus, Offensive Box Plus/Minus, Field Goals Made, Value Over Replacement Player, and most importantly, Player Efficiency Rating. Not to mention he’s 16th in the league in usage rate. Oh, and if you forgot… he’s a freaking Center!

How many players in the NBA are as valuable as the Joker?

What Can Stop Jokić?

The MVP award isn’t always awarded to the most deserving player. The 2005-2006 NBA MVP was awarded to Steve Nash though LeBron’s season was far more dominant. There were years Michael Jordan should’ve won it, but maybe due to voter fatigue, didn’t. There’s always the chance that LeBron or Embiid come back sooner than later and recapture momentum, but if the award is supposed to go to the most VALUABLE player, Nikola Jokić is a great candidate.

Many will bring up James Harden as another player who deserves MVP consideration. I would agree, but his crime partner is Kyrie Irving. No disrespect to Jamal Murray, but he isn’t Kyrie Irving. Let’s not forget that Kevin Durant will soon return to the Nets, which will also detract from Harden’s case. The odds of the voters giving Giannis a third straight MVP aren’t good, and Damian Lillard never gets that kind of love playing in Portland.

Assuming the Nuggets don’t fall apart and Nikola Jokić continues to dominate, there should be no reason he isn’t a finalist or even the front-runner for MVP. The narrative surrounding a player always plays a huge role in deciding whether or not they win the award. If Russell Westbrook, a Point Guard, can win MVP for averaging a triple-double as a sixth seed, then why can’t Nikola Jokić, a Center, win the MVP for being (arguably) the best player in the league on a playoff team?

Follow me on twitter @KENDRlCKS and check out more NBA related articles by the Belly Up Sports team.

Kendrick Lindsay
About Author

Kendrick Lindsay

Growing up in a single-parent household came with its perks and downsides. Perk, I became very close to my mother. The downside, she wasn't a sports watcher. It wasn't until I was 15 years old that I was introduced to the world of sports/sports media. That's when I truly fell in love with it all. And it wasn't the X's and O's that won me over, it was the deep-rooted stories of the business, the athletes, and the ever so changing nature of sports that intrigued me. As a recent college graduate and Communications major, I hope to put my imprint on the sports media world.

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