Nikola Jokic became the first Denver Nuggets’ player to win NBA’s Most Valuable Player award; starting all 72 regular-season games and averaging 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists per contest.
The Nuggets’ center was revealed Tuesday as the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for 2020-21, making him by far the lowest draft pick ever to win the award. He also became the first true center to be named MVP since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000.
Jokic said “To be honest, I didn’t even think I would be in the NBA.
“My goal when I started to play basketball back home, it was playing in Euro League because that was kind of the closest top league to my country.”
Nikola Jokic was selected with the 41st draft pick in the second round when he entered the NBA seven years ago.
He was the runaway winner, getting 91 of the 101 first-place ballots cast, 100 of them from a global panel of sportswriters and broadcasters who cover the league, the other being an aggregate first-place ballot compiled from fan voting.
That fan vote was the outlier: It went to 2011 NBA MVP Derrick Rose of the New York Knicks, the only vote Rose got.
Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid was second; Golden State’s Stephen Curry was third; 2019 and 2020 MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee was fourth and Phoenix’s Chris Paul was fifth.
Jokic had a league-high 60 double-doubles and added 16 triple-doubles second-most in the NBA behind only triple-double king and former MVP Westbrook this season. Jokic’s scoring average jumped from 19.9 points per game last season to 26.4. He tied his career high with 10.8 rebounds per game and his average of 8.3 assists was just shy of Wilt Chamberlains all-time season average (8.6) for a center.
He shot 56% from the field and 39% from three-point range.