Editor’s Note: The following article represents the views of the author.
Nikola Jokić is the NBA MVP.
No matter what you hear from national “analysts” and pundits trying to say otherwise. The work to convince you that Jokić is not the MVP is like saying the sky is not blue.
Nikola Jokić is the NBA MVP
The effort to discount and disparage what the Denver Nuggets center is doing this season is just bizarre. And then to do it as a way to boost up Joel Embiid. Embiid is a great player. He’s one of the best in the NBA … when he’s actually on the floor.
But this isn’t about tearing one guy down in order to build another guy up.
That style is tiring and boring.
It’s the tried and true sports talk radio “let’s create controversy” schtick.
Denver had its fair share of that with sports talk radio legend Joe Williams constantly saying John Elway wasn’t a top-tier quarterback in the NFL. Hey, at least Joe was consistent.
But this need to make light of the season Jokić is having is just weird. Whether that’s the intent of the people who are doing this, it’s definitely the result.
For Mile High Basketball fans and those betting on the Nuggets, they know the scoreboard.
There are the stats, and they’re absurd.
There are the triple-doubles, which are so common now they’re seemingly brushed off. But they’re also historic.
This is about the ol’ eye test.
Jokić is the MVP.
Period. Full stop.
No matter how you dice, slice and Ron Popeil your basis for MVP.
ESPN NBA MVP straw poll
We’re here because ESPN did a NBA MVP straw poll of 101 media members as a way to gauge where the race stands. The results were rather startling.
Jokić took 91 of the first-place votes cast in the informal poll.
Embiid is a very, very distant second.
Based on point totals from that poll, Jokić is 568 points ahead of Embiid. As ESPN noted, since the NBA shifted to this current voting format, no MVP winner has finished more than 224 points ahead of second place (when James Harden beat LeBron James in 2018).
NBA MVP betting odds
If you look at the NBA betting odds for MVP, the sportsbooks agree.
Jokić is the huge favorite right now. At DraftKings, he’s at -400. Embiid again is a distant second at +325.
Before the season started, Jokić was +2,500 to win the MVP at DraftKings.
A lot of people seem to think Jokić is the favorite due to injuries to Embiid and James. Both have missed significant amounts of time.
As the saying goes, “The best ability is availability.”
It’s kind of hard to be the MVP when you miss close to 20 games, as is the case with Embiid.
Jokić, on the other hand, has yet to miss a game.
But that’s only part of it. You take Jokić off the floor for the same amount of games Embiid has missed, there is no way Denver is fourth in the Western Conference standings. Meanwhile, the Philadelphia 76ers are the best team in the East. So has Embiid really been the “most valuable” when you could make the argument he isn’t even his own team’s MVP?
Speaking of injuries, since the season-ending injury to Jamal Murray, the Nuggets have won all three games. With Jokić having his “statement” game in the most recent 139-137 double overtime win over the Memphis Grizzlies. The Nuggets big finished with a ho-hum 47 points, 15 rebounds and eight assists.
Silly arguments against Jokić
So if there was any doubt before that win, there is none now. No matter what the skeptics might say.
But instead of just pointing out the obvious that Jokić is having a remarkable season and he’s played every game while Embiid hasn’t, they throw out this argument.
“Hey, basketball is a two-way game.”
When did defense suddenly matter to NBA pundits? And why does it suddenly matter when Jokić is the front-runner for the MVP?
If this is an argument about the style of center that Embiid and Jokić are, that’s a fair discussion. Both are completely different players with unique styles.
But this notion that Jokić doesn’t play defense is also patently false.
According to Ben Dowsett, the curator for Jazz Film Room, on Twitter:
Utah Jazz fans know the line about Rudy Gobert vs guards on defensive switches. Know which other center belongs in the same ‘you really shouldn’t attack him so much in iso’ conversation? Jokic. Only guy with better iso defensive numbers than Gobert vs guards on high volume over the last two years.
Remarkable season from Jokić
Since that argument has been dunked on, what’s next, the altitude argument?
“Just like Coors Field, Ball Arena is an unfair advantage. Jokić doesn’t have to put as much effort into his shots since the air is thinner. That’s why he’s able to make so many one-legged circus shots.”
“The thin altitude allows Jokić to jump higher for more rebounds.”
When it comes to Colorado sports and Colorado sports betting, fans know to expect nonsensical arguments when it comes to its athletes and teams.
Denver Broncos fans know this all too well with linebacker Randy Gradishar and the Orange Crush.
Now we can add the NBA and its MVP to this growing list.
Yet no matter how they try to cut him down, it won’t change the fact Jokić is the MVP. And he’s had a heckuva season to make that happen.
The only question that’s left hanging: Can Jokić play table tennis?