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Wednesday, May 25, 2022

Associated Press Source: Jokic captures second straight NBA MVP award

DENVER ( Associated Press) — Denver’s Nikola Jokic has won his second consecutive Most Valuable Player award after a season in which he finished with never-before-seen numbers in NBA history, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press. told.

According to a person who spoke to the Associated Press on Monday on condition of anonymity, the NBA was preparing to make an announcement in the coming days, possibly this week because voting results have not been announced.

ESPN, citing sources, previously reported that Jokic would be named MVP again.

The Nuggets’ 7-foot center was the first player in league history to amass 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists in a season. And such dominance of a player nicknamed “Joker” helped convince voters that he should be the 13th player of the NBA’s exclusive MVP back-to-back club.

The other finalists—who would finish second and third in that order—were Philadelphia center Joel Embiid, who led the league in average scoring, and two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of the defending champion Milwaukee Bucks.

Jokic, 27, averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists on a team that missed two maximum players in Jamal Murray (ACL) and Michael Porter Jr. (back). Required to move the load night in and out, Sombor, Serbia’s big man, answered the call and guided the Nuggets to a 48-win season. 6 seed in the West, before losing in five games to the Golden State Warriors in the opening round of the playoffs.

Nuggets coach Michael Malone recently said of Jokic, “What he has done is remarkable.” “I know I am very biased, I accept it wholeheartedly – ​​MVP is not even a competition. There are other great players, I am not saying they are not great players, but Nikola Jokic this year What he has done, with this team, with everything we have gone through, is unbelievable. He was good last year and he is even better this year.”

The award is likely the start of a big off-season for Jokic, who is eligible for a Supermax expansion that could guarantee him nearly $254 million over five seasons starting 2023–24. He would earn $32.4 million the next season.

Nothing is more important than keeping Jokic, Nuggets basketball operations president Tim Connelly said recently.

Jokic joined Rarefied Company to win a second consecutive season. Other players with two consecutive wins include Antetokounmpo, Stephen Curry, LeBron James (twice), Steve Nash, Tim Duncan, Michael Jordan, Magic Johnson, Moses Malone and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (twice). Larry Bird, Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell each won the award in three straight seasons.

Next year, Jokic will also have a chance in the three-peat.

Known for his pinpoint passing as well as his gentle touch, Jokic finished with a league-leading 19 triple-doubles. The 41st pick of the 2014 draft now has 76 in his career, trailing only Chamberlain (78) at centers.

After being knocked out of the playoffs – he averaged 31 points, 13.2 rebounds – Jokic was asked how he could celebrate if he won the MVP.

“Maybe some music, beer, with friends, family around,” he said. “Like how you’re probably supposed to.

“But if I don’t get it, I’m not going to die. I’ll just keep playing, trying to play the right way like I did my whole life.”

There was a time when Jokic was infamous for his game. More specifically, their not being able to defend and jump. His once-tattered frame – as Spurs coach Greg Popovich good-naturedly told him about it – has more power in it.

Ever bothered that his game doesn’t generate the same level of respect as other exceptional players?

“Couldn’t care less, brother,” said Jokic.

He sees the court with the clarity of a point guard and has an arsenal of shots that include smooth baby hooks around the rim and a soft 3-point touch.

Popovich had an appropriate answer when asked whether it was more important to remove Jokic’s shot attempts or passes: “I don’t think anyone has detected that,” he said. “He’s a great one.”

No argument from New York Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau.

“If someone’s jogging, he’s going to pay you for it. If you’re out of position or err on the cut, he’ll pay you for it,” Thibodeau said earlier. “Great player.”

Jokic cares a lot about winning – the game, not the hardware. He’s not a lobbyist on his behalf, just letting his numbers do his thing. When he won last season, he averaged 26.4 points, 10.8 boards and 8.3 assists. This season, he took his game to another level to make his fourth straight All-Star team.

“If it’s enough, it’s enough,” he said. “If not, you can’t control it.”

Funny story about his MVP trophy from a season ago: As his family moves in, he certainly didn’t know where it was.

“It’s here in Denver,” Jokic cracked recently.


Associated Press Basketball Writer Tim Reynolds, Associated Press Sports Writer Ernie Stapleton and freelance writer Michael Kelly contributed to this report.


More Associated Press NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports

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