February 26, 2024
Nikola Jokic named 2021 NBA Most Valuable Player

Nikola Jokic named 2021 NBA Most Valuable Player

The NBA announced on Tuesday that the Serbian big man had received the award for the first time in his career, becoming the first Nuggets player to earn the honor.

Drafted with the 41st pick in the 2014 NBA draft, Jokic becomes the lowest-drafted player to ever win the award, the previous lowest being Steve Nash and next closest being Giannis Antetokounmpo with the 15th pick.

“To be honest, I didn’t even think about being in the NBA,” Jokic said on TNT’s “Inside The NBA” show after winning the award.

“My goal when I started to play basketball back home was to play in the EuroLeague because that was the closest top league to my country. I could play in some big clubs in Serbia and grind my way up. But then the Denver Nuggets drafted me, and it was an opportunity for me to become an NBA player.”

Jokic shoots the ball against the Phoenix Suns.

Jokic, nicknamed ‘The Joker’, joins Dirk Nowitzki and Antetokounmpo as MVP winners from Europe.

The MVP award is voted on by a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters, as well as one fan vote, making for 101 ballots.

Jokic received 91 first-place votes, earning 971 total points. Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid finished in second place with 586 points, followed by Golden State Warriors guard Steph Curry in third place with 453 points.

Players received 10 points for each first-place vote, seven points for each second-place vote, five points for each third-place vote, three points for each fourth-place vote and one point for each fifth-place vote.

In a shortened season because of the disruption the coronavirus pandemic had on the previous campaign, Jokic has been ever present.

While other players have rested or missed time through injury, Jokic has played in all 72 games for the Nuggets, leading his team to a 47-25 record and the third seed in the Western Conference for the playoffs.

Over the 72 games, the 26-year-old averaged a career-high 26.4 points, 10.9 rebounds, a career-high 8.4 assists and 1.32 steals. He became the third player in NBA history to average at least 26.0 points, 10.0 rebounds and 8.0 assists in a season, joining Hall of Famer Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook.

Jokic throws a no-look pass to Monte Morris as Robert Covington  of the Portland Trail Blazers defends.
Jokic received the news of the award from NBA commissioner Adam Silver during a team meeting at the Nuggets’ hotel ahead of Game Two of their second-round series with the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.
“It’s a big accomplishment,” Jokic said. “But it’s something that, like I said to the guys, it’s not just me. I couldn’t do it by myself. It’s something that it is an individual award but it’s the effort of everybody who is part of the Denver Nuggets organization.”

He also became the first center since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000 to win the league’s top individual honor.

Jokic will need to keep up his excellent form if the Nuggets have any hopes of advancing in the playoffs, having lost Game One of their series with the Suns already.