With a formal announcement expected later in the week, Denver Nuggets center, Nikola Jokic has been voted the Most Valuable Player of the NBA’s 2021-22 regular season, clinching it a second time, back to back.
The Serbian warded off stiff competition for the individual honor from Philadelphia 76ers’ Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.
With the duo of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. sidelined with injuries all year long, it was Jokic who was left to pick up the pieces, with herculean efforts, keeping Denver out of the lottery and firmly in the West, ensuring the Nuggets afloat and at times thriving.
Let us take a cursory look at some of the statistics that underscore how dominant his MVP run really was:
A divisive and contentious element of Jokic’s MVP award is Denver’s regular season record. The Nuggets won only 48 games; not bad, but equally not spectacular 58.5% winning rate.
Historically, NBA MVPs come from top teams of the league, and rarely from a club with a pedestrian record. For some, this is a glaring issue.
On the flipside, that Denver won as many games as it did is the real story. The Nuggets were not a powerhouse this season, but were unquestionably one of the toughest teams in the league and Jokic deserves huge credit here, especially given the circumstances.
32.85 Player Efficiency Rating
In 2021-22, Nikola Jokic posted the highest regular season PER(Player Efficiency Rating) in Association history. His 32.85 PER puts him ahead of players like Wilt Chamberlain, LeBron James, and Michael Jordan. That he did so while his peers in the MVP race also had historic years only sweetens the deal.
PER is a metric used to quantify an individual’s overall impact, and like any statistic, it has its limitations, but it is a good way to assess how dominant a player has been throughout a period of time. In the season under review, Giannis Antetokounmpo posted the third best regular season PER in NBA history, while Joel Embiid posted the fourteenth best.
First 2000/1000/500 season ever.— StatMuse (@statmuse) May 9, 2022
First to average 25/13/6 in a season ever (he’s averaging 27/14/8).
First player in top 10 PPG, RPG, APG, FG% in last 50 seasons.
Highest PER ever.
A worthy MVP. pic.twitter.com/Me2ZLSoQuF
27.1 Points Per Game
On any given night during the 21-22 season, Jokic was busy lighting up the scoreboard. His inside-out game and unbelievable passing skills are a major reason for Denver’s unexpected success this season. The Joker had to do it all to keep the Nuggets in the mix, and he more than rose to the occasion.
Jokic ended the year averaging 27.1 points per game – a career best. Likewise, he grabbed 13.8 rebounds per game – also a career high and good for second in the NBA behind Rudy Gobert. Denver finished the season tenth in points scored and ninth in defensive rebounds.
7.9 Assists Per Game
The Nuggets were third in assists per game and owned the sixth best offensive rating in the NBA. And Jokic’s 7.9 assists per game are a huge part of this story – good for the eighth best average in the NBA just behind Luka Doncic and ahead of LaMelo Ball.
The MVP is staying in the Mile High City for the second straight year.🏆— The Athletic (@TheAthletic) May 9, 2022
Nikola Jokić is the 2021-22 NBA MVP, a source confirmed to The Athletic.
◽️ 27.1 PPG
◽️ 13.8 RPG
◽️ 7.9 APG pic.twitter.com/cS9tu6AxGR
Watching Denver play, it’s clear why Jokic is so valuable. Though his usage rate isn’t among the highest in the league, he is still the undisputed focal point of what that Nuggets do on offense. Reintegrating Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. should elevate Jokic’s assist numbers even further next season.
Nikola Jokic logged 2004 regular season points, 1019 rebounds, and 584 assists during the 2021-22 campaign. He’s the first player in league history to reach these benchmarks collectively. Unsurprisingly, Jokic put up nineteen triple-doubles this year.
The Serbian Towers Above Rivals
The reality is anyone of Jokic, Embiid and Antetokounmpo would have thoroughly deserved it if they won, as it turned out to be one of the most keenly contested MVP race in recent times.
So in the end, it was a good choice, and it is no affront on the other two finalists. Embiid missed the most games of the three finalists, Giannis was dominant all season but really turned the heat in the final few weeks, especially against the Nets and 76ers, but as a two-time back-to-back MVP, the odds were stacked against him as regards emotional voting.
Hence, there is absolutely no qualms with Jokic winning MVP.