DROP THE MIKE

Now that he’s won another MVP, the real work begins for Nikola Jokic

May 13, 2022, 6:50 AM
Nikola Jokic...
Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Nikola Jokic won the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award this week. It was the second-straight season in which the Nuggets center earned that honor.

Thoughts on “The Joker” going back-to-back…

• Say whatever you want about whether Jokic deserved to win the MVP again, but his riding up to receive the award in his horse drawn buggy was awesome! Not many NBA MVP awards have ever been handed out better than that.

• Of course, it is probably something else his critics will jump on as to why they hate him winning it. “Look at that, so goofy.” Whatever dudes.

• Ah, those critics. What is their problem with Jokic? I know they respect his game. So what’s the beef? Couple thoughts. One, the perception Jokic keeps winning MVPs because he’s the darling of the analytic nerds. Well, the numbers don’t lie. They do point to his dominance. Plus, that complaint annoys me. Watch the game. Watch the way he plays. I don’t base my appreciation for Jokic based on PER. The eye test is what matters to me and my eyes see a guy who plays the game the right way, makes everyone around him better, comes through in the clutch and puts up crazy numbers.

• The other problem with Jokic is he’s not good for TV. And he’s Euro. And he’s white. Let me pick that apart. The white, Euro argument is weak. NBA media loved Dirk Nowitzki. They adore Luka Doncic. If Doncic was the presumptive MVP, they’d have no issues. I believe the bigger issue is Jokic isn’t TV friendly and he plays in Denver. Trust me, if Jokic had these last two years in L.A., New York or any other big NBA market, the guys over at ESPN would love the Joker.

• For all the Nick Wrights of the world who are beside themselves with Jokic going back to back, open yourself up to the idea of a three-peat. When Jokic won last year, he received 91 first place votes to Joel Embiid’s one. The overall vote points total was massive as well – 971-586. This year, it was 65-26 over Embiid in first place votes and 875-706 overall. Yes, the margin closed, but it wasn’t razor thin. There’s still a healthy margin there which Jokic brings into next season. We know the voters love him. We strongly suspect his game is going to stay at a very high level. That means whoever is going to supplant him as MVP has to have a truly incredible season.

• So what’s next for Jokic? Actually the really hard work starts now. Now, it’s about making these back-to-back MVPs really matter. That means Jokic has to win an NBA title. Of all the back-to-back MVP winners, only Steve Nash didn’t win a title. And not coincidentally, Nash is regarded as the “weakest” of all the back-to-back winners. Jokic doesn’t want to be associated with Nash.

• Then, there’s his own town. Jokic has made history as being the first Denver athlete to win back-to-back MVPs. But championships carry more weight. So Jokic still trails behind Elway, Sakic, Manning. But if Jokic can deliver a title? Woo, watch out. Then the debate gets juicy. Now, it comes down to Joker and Elway, mano y mano. I don’t think anyone will ever knock Elway off the pedestal. He’s an MVP, a two-time SB winner, a SB MVP, he dragged three other Broncos teams to Super Bowls they had no business being in, and oh yeah, he only put Denver, Colorado on the map! That would be tough to top. But if Jokic could do it?

• Please let that happen so the debate can rage!

***

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Now that he’s won another MVP, the real work begins for Nikola Jokic