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MX News Update 2024

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Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic wins NBA MVP for the third time in four seasons

Denver Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic continued to add to his legacy as one of the best NBA players ever on Wednesday by winning his third Most Valuable Player trophy.

Jokic won the award for the third time in four seasons, succeeding last season’s MVP, Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid. He defeated Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of the Oklahoma City Thunder and Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks, who finished second and third, respectively, in the voting.

“It has to start with the teammates. Without them I can’t do anything,” Jokic told TNT on Wednesday after receiving the award. “Coaches, players, organization, medical staff, strength coaches, development coaches. It’s all one big circle. But without them I can’t be who I am.”

Jokic’s third MVP win wasn’t close. He received 79 first-place votes and a total of 926 points. Gilgeous-Alexander received 15 first-place votes and 640 points. Doncic received four first-place votes and 566 points. Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks finished fourth and New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson finished fifth in the voting.

“There are a lot of players who deserve it,” Jokic said of the MVP race. “It’s probably the details and the little things (that determine it).”

Jokic is the first center in six decades to win three MVPs in four seasons; Kareem Abdul-Jabbar did it from 1973-74 to 1976-77.

“It’s hard to separate greatness from greatness from greatness,” Denver head coach Michael Malone said in early April about how Jokic has improved from previous MVP seasons. “And that’s what he’s been doing for several years now. I know over the last six years we’ve had by far the best record in the Western Conference and only second place in the NBA behind me, I think in Milwaukee in that time.”

In his ninth season, Jokic played 79 games, his most since he played 80 games during the 2018-19 season. According to research from ESPN Stats & Information, he joined Wilt Chamberlain as the only players in NBA history to finish in the top five in total points (fifth), rebounds (third) and assists (second). Elgin Baylor is the only other player to have done this once.

Jokic is also the second player to record 2,000 points, 900 rebounds and 600 assists in a single season, joining Oscar Robertson.

Jokic averaged 26.4 points, 12.4 rebounds and 9.0 assists – all in the top 10 in every statistical category. He had 25 triple-doubles, second only to Sacramento’s Domantas Sabonis (26), while shooting an average of 58.3% from the field and 35.9% from behind the arc.

Powered by Jokic, Denver finished the season fifth in offensive efficiency, eighth in defensive efficiency and fourth in net rating. The Nuggets were one of four teams to finish in the top 10 in all three, along with the Celtics, Knicks and Thunder.

Even though Denver had the best starting five in the league, Jokic’s value to Denver was undeniable. The Nuggets posted a net efficiency of plus-11.8 when Jokic was on the court, but minus-8.6 when he was off. Jokic led the NBA with a plus-682 plus-minus. The Nuggets were minus-251 with their franchise player off the field.

Of course, the modest Jokic often says that he doesn’t care so much about winning individual honors as he does about the championship. Jokic is trying to lead the Nuggets to a repeat as world champions.

Should he do so, the Nuggets big man will have put together a four-year run that only four other all-time greats have ever done. LeBron James, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Bill Russell are the only players to win three regular-season MVPs and two titles in four years.

“Nikola has matured, his ability to continue to make everyone around him better,” Malone said. “And when you win a championship, and we’re going to run it back, but instead of Bruce (Brown) and Jeff (Green), we’re going to try to use young players and the fact that we have a better record than last year.

“And Jamal Murray has missed games (23). It speaks to Nikola that it’s still my responsibility as a great player to help (the younger role players) and all the other guys understand what their roles are, how to play on both sides of the floor, and most importantly, to make those guys better.”

ESPN statistics and information contributed to this report.