Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic says he doesn’t care about NBA MVP award, but will likely win anyway

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As the 2020-21 NBA regular season draws to a close, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic has emerged as one of the favorites for the NBA’s most prestigious individual award – MVP. Jokic is the consensus leader among members of the media for the honor at the moment, ahead of other contenders like Joel Embiid, Chris Paul and Giannis Antetokounmpo and he is the favorite among punters. If Jokic were to win the award, he would be the first center to do so since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000 and the first Nuggets player to win it.

Despite the hype, Jokic doesn’t focus on the price. Or at least he doesn’t admit it publicly. After helping propel Denver to a recent 110-104 win over the Los Angeles Clippers, Jokic denied that the Maurice Podoloff Trophy provided him with any additional motivation.

“I never play basketball to win individual prizes,” Jokic said. “So MVP is just something that people and the media try to tell about. So if it happens, it happens. I don’t play for that. Like I said, as long as we win, I’m happy. ”

These comments echo comments Jokic made during a recent onset on ESPN’s The Jump.

“I never think about [the MVP Award] to be honest, “Jokic said.” I didn’t come here to want to be a league MVP. I always think someone is better than me. I want to compete to beat him. Just by this mentality, I will always be an outsider. “

Jokic’s nonchalant approach differs from that of other suitors. When asked if he should be in the MVP conversation, Knicks forward Julius Randle responded: “Of course, I’m not going to shy away from it.” Last month, Embiid, who is never shy around a mic, proclaimed that there was “no doubt” that he was the MVP.

“There is no doubt [I’m MVP]”Said Embiid.” The main thing I always focus on is winning. When you win, everyone on that team wins. If you don’t win, these things won’t come. My goal is always to win the championship, and with winning comes rewards. I’ve been dominant all season, I feel like every time I have the ball they send me three guys, and I’m always able to do what I do best. When you look at our rankings and my numbers, I think I should be part of the All-Defensive team as well, because I can do it on both sides. “

Jokic might not be as loud about his candidacy as others, and he might not care at all, but he’s probably going to win the award anyway. No one has been as good, as consistently, as Jokic has been this season. Damian Lillard faded a bit after a good start. Steph Curry has grown extremely strong in recent weeks, but the fact that his Warriors are heading into the play-in tournament could be held against him. Chris Paul was instrumental in turning the Suns into a legitimate contender, but his numbers are a bit small for an MVP. As for Antetokounmpo, voters are unlikely to pick him for a third straight season, especially since the Bucks have failed in the playoffs for the past two seasons.

Injury issues have left LeBron James and James Harden out of the conversation, and they’re also the biggest flaw in Embiid’s resume. Embiid has been downright dominant this season, and if he had played the same number of games as Jokic there is a good chance he would be the favorite, given that he is the top defender. But while Embiid missed 19 games for the Sixers due to injuries and league health and safety protocols, Jokic has played in every game for Denver. Fair or not, voters are likely to use this standard of differentiation. On a Nuggets show last month, Reggie Miller was discussing Jokic’s MVP candidacy and he had this to say:

“[Jokic] has played in every game this season. All the other MVP pioneers, Joel Embiid, LeBron James, James Harden, all of these guys missed a lot of time … You have to give credit to someone who has played in every game and display those numbers as well. . “

Unfortunately for Embiid, a number of other people, including award voters, are likely to share this view. The fact that Jokic was in better health than the other suitors certainly helped his case, and it’s good to admit that. That doesn’t take anything away from what he did on the pitch. But let’s not act like Jokic winning the award is just the result of attrition. His season numbers – 26.3 points, 10.9 rebounds, 8.5 assists and 1.4 steals per performance – are stellar, and he has the Nuggets near the top of the competitive Western Conference playoff table. . Denver will most likely finish third or fourth in the West this season, despite losing Jamal Murray to a knee injury that ended the season in April. In fact, the fact that Jokic was able to get the Nuggets out without Murray (they went 9-2 since his injury) will help strengthen his case.

There often seems to be varying criteria for the MVP award, but Jokic’s value for the Nuggets is unmistakable regardless of the metrics used. He’s had a season for the ages, and he’ll likely be rewarded with the material to commemorate him – though he’s indifferent about it.

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