Nikola Jokic won the 2021-22 NBA MVP award, earning the league’s highest individual honor for the second year in a row, the league announced Wednesday night. Jokic received 65 out of a possible 100 votes for first place and received a total of 875 points, surpassing Joel Embiid’s 706 total points and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 595 total points. Jokic’s back-to-back MVP awards match the feat achieved by fellow runner-up Giannis Antetokounmpo during the 2018-19 and 19-20 seasons. The third runner-up, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid, never won the award.
Assists aside, Jokic has managed to improve his averages per game in all major statistical categories in the regular season. I finished with career highs in points (27.1), rebounds (13.8), blocks (0.9) and steals (1.5) per game. He also had a career-high 58.3% of his field goals, and while he didn’t match his career-high in free throws or 3-point percentage, he did set highs in total free throws (379) and 3 points (97) made.
The race between Jokic, Embiid and Antetokounmpo was fierce. Embiid won the scoring title with an average of 30.6 points. Antetokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks finished with the highest seed of the three, finishing third in the Eastern Conference with a 51-31 record. The Embiid 76ers had the same record but finished fourth due to tiebreakers. Jokic’s Nuggets were a No. 6 seed in the West despite winning just three fewer games and being ousted in the first round by the Golden State Warriors.
All three MVP finalists had to overcome significant adversity to get their teams to where they did. Embiid played the first half of the season without Ben Simmons, who was out due to trade demand, and Antetokounmpo had to play out of center position due to an injury to Brook Lopez. But Lopez eventually returned, and the 76ers traded Simmons for James Harden. Jokic didn’t have such relief. His star teammate Jamal Murray hasn’t played a game this season, and No. 3 option Michael Porter Jr. has only played nine games. Jokic’s side might have had a worse record than the other two, but their ability to keep the Nuggets afloat without their second- and third-best players likely earned them that trophy.
Jokic is the 15th player to win multiple MVP awards, joining Bob Pettit, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Moses Malone, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Karl Malone, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Antetokounpo. He is the only Nugget to have won an NBA MVP award, although Spencer Haywood won an ABA MVP award when the team was still known as the Denver Rockets.
With Murray and Porter injured, Denver never had a realistic chance of winning a championship this season, but Jokic managed to lead them to the playoffs in a way no other player likely could have. He’s not a traditional MVP in terms of style or ranking, but voters have spoken and they’ve determined he’s the most valuable player of the 2021-22 NBA season.
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Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic Wins NBA MVP For Second Consecutive Season