By Zach Bye
Nikola Jokic is the MVP of the NBA this season because he simply checked every box there is to check. Look at the raw numbers:
• He averaged more than 26 points per game while being in the top 10 in both rebounds and assists.
• Essentially, he averaged as many assists a game as Luka Doncic and Chris Paul while grabbing more rebounds per game than Joel Embiid and Deandre Ayton.
• The 7-footer also averaged more steals per game than guards like Stephen Curry and Jayson Tatum.
If the raw numbers said it, then the advanced number screamed it.
Player efficiency rating (PER) has become a useful tool when measuring players in an all-encompassing fashion. Much like the QBR in football replaced the quarterback rating, PER has been given more credence today than ever before.
Jokic put together the 10th-best season in NBA history in player efficiency rating. This was a better rating than some MVP seasons — from Michael Jordan to Shaquille O’Neal to David Robinson.
Another huge box that Jokic checked that someone like Curry didn’t is he did it for a winner.
Let’s not look past what being the main card on a winning team means. And they weren’t just a winning team; the Nuggets were 22 games over .500 and the No. 3 seed in a Western Conference.
The MVP award isn’t just a numbers game. Context matters.
They way that Jokic somehow took his game to another level following the Jamal Murray injury adds a natural human element that matters.
The cherry on the top of it all is the guy didn’t miss a game.
This award is the largest accomplishment of any team or individual in Nuggets history, solidifying him as the greatest Nugget of all time and one of the greatest Colorado sports athletes of all time
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