PHOENIX, AZ — Despite being on the losing end of a 122-105 Game 1 blowout vs. the Phoenix Suns, and being played to a relative draw against DeAndre Ayton, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic scored a tremendous consolation price in being named 2021 NBA MVP.
Jokic, a native of Serbia becomes the first second-rounder to win NBA MVP, as he was taken 41st overall by Denver in the 2014 NBA Draft, the lowest-drafted player to win the ward since Moses Malone, who was undrafted. The 7’1 250-pounder is also the third European joining Giannis Antetukoupo (Greece), Dirk Nowitzki (Germany) and the fifth foreign-born player joining Hakeem Olajuwon (Nigeria) and Steve Nash (Canada) to win the award.
Once a defensive liability due to his inability to stay on the floor, Jokic quickly developed into one of the game’s most gifted passers in becoming the first player in NBA history this season to average at least 26 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists on better than 52 percent shooting, as he made 56.6 percent of his field goals. Thanks to a truly historical season, Jokic also became the first center to join the 50-40-90 club.
Make no mistake, other finalists such as Joel Embiid (586 points), followed by Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (453 points) in third place, Milwaukee Bucks forward Antetokounmpo (348 points) in fourth place and Phoenix Suns point guard Chris Paul (139 points) in fifth place, each had a strong case in being named NBA MVP, as Jokic respectfully, who earned 91 out of 101 first-place ballot votes, per NBA.com proved to be the very embodiment of the award in raising his game following the season-ending ACL injury of fellow Nuggets All-Star Jamal Murray.
While Denver may be down 1-0 to the Suns right now, Jokic will only continue to maintain his already high level of play in making Denver a tough out this postseason.