The 27-year-old Serb – who was the 41st pick in the 2014 draft – was named All-Star for the fourth consecutive season after another dominant year from the center position. He edged out Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid and Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo for the award.
Jokic is the 15th player to win the MVP title multiple times and the second in a row to win back-to-back awards after Antetokounmpo in 2018-19 and 2019-20.
Jokic accepted the award while at his stable in Serbia.
Asked by TNT’s Ernie Johnson after winning the award if he ever considered himself a longshot, Jokic agreed, adding: “There’s no way I’m coming to the NBA and playing this city’s basketball. , of this stable, basically, and now I play basketball in the best league in the world and I play at a high level.”
As a young boy, Jokic said he “didn’t think about playing basketball or even lying”.
“I was here in the stable,” he said. “I cleaned the boxes. I cleaned the horses. At that age, I didn’t think about basketball at all.”
Jokic has improved his overall game from last year’s MVP-winning season, averaging 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists in 74 regular season games this year. Last year, he averaged 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game.
During the regular season, Jokic became the first player in NBA history with 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists in a single season.
He also racked up a league-leading 19 triple-doubles in the regular season, meaning he has 76 in his career, trailing only Wilt Chamberlain (78) among centers.
“To see Nikola become one of the few consecutive MVPs this league has ever seen has been truly amazing,” Denver Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said. “It shows who Nikola is as a person and as a basketball player – hardworking, extremely driven and determined to improve himself and all of his teammates in every way possible.”
The Nuggets faced the Warriors in the playoffs
Jokic’s Nuggets were extremely shorthanded this season. Point guard Jamal Murray has missed the full year with a torn ACL while Michael Porter Jr. has only played nine games due to a back injury.
Yet despite all the adversity in his path, Jokic managed to lead Denver into the playoffs, finishing sixth seed in the Western Conference.
It earned the Nuggets a matchup with the Golden State Warriors where they would end up losing in five games in their best seven-game streak.
In the series, Jokic averaged 31.0 points, 13.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.6 steals and one block per game on 57.5% shooting from the field, almost single-handedly guarding the Nuggets in most games.
All five games included fierce battles with Warriors forward Draymond Green, widely considered one of the best defensive players in the NBA.
After the Warriors secured the series victory in Game 5, Jokic and Green shared an embrace on the half court and exchanged a few words which Green explained in his post-game press conference.
“I told him thank you for making me better. It’s an honor and a pleasure to play against someone so talented. Usually when you have such talented and capable guys, they are sweet. And he is far, far from soft. He’s an absolutely amazing player,” Green said.
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