Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets has been named the 2021-22 NBA Most Valuable Player (NBA), ESPN reported on Monday.
Jokic has joined Giannis Antetokounmpo to become the second player to win the NBA top award in two straight seasons. Antetokounmpo, who did it right before Jokic, was a finalist of the race together with Joel Embiid of the Philadelphia 76ers.
ESPN said that a formal announcement will be released by the league later this week.
Having made 74 appearances, Jokic has averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds, 7.9 assists and 1.5 steals. He is the first one in league history to get at least 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists in one season.
Some may question why Jokic can win back-to-back MVP while his team is ranking only sixth in the Western Conference with a 48-34 record. However, Antetokounmpo who has Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday, two All-Star players, as his teammates. Embiid worked on his own for several months, but former MVP James Harden joined the 76ers in February.
By contrast, Jokic missed both of his star teammates, Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., for almost the whole season. Porter Jr. played only nine games before he had to be ruled out because of back injury.
Murray spent the whole season trying to recover from a torn ACL. Even with the very limited help he could get, Jokic still led the Nuggets to win only three fewer games than Antetokounmpo and Embiid.
Jokic still has one year left of his five-year, $147.7 million contract he signed with the Nuggets back in 2018. He can sign a five-year extension that can be worth $255 million or even $273 million with the team this summer. The Nuggets have never won the NBA Championship. If they want to break that awkward record, they should keep Jokic.