NBA MVP Race: Does Jokic’s Historic Night Move Him To No. 1?

Denver Nuggets, NBA
NBA Analysis Network

What makes a player in the NBA an MVP caliber player? Is it the fact that they stuff the stat sheets or is it that they do something miraculous every single game to help will their team to victory? 

For Nikola Jokic, it is all of the above and then some! 

The reigning league-MVP and the Denver Nuggets took on the New Orleans Pelicans on Sunday night in Denver in a game that could have heavy implications on the Western Conference playoff picture. Jokic’s Nuggets have had to deal with injuries all season long and as a result, they have been hanging on to the 6-seed for quite some time now, looking to avoid the play-in tournament all together. 

Picking up a 138-130 overtime win over the Pelicans on Sunday was not only huge in the sense that the Nuggets created a little separation between them and the 7-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves, but because this could be the game we look back on and say that this is the moment that Nikola Jokic won back-to-back MVPs. 

LATEST NBA NEWS: Pelicans vs Nuggets Recap: Jokic Makes True MVP Impact In Win

Twelve players in NBA history have won back-to-back MVPs, some of which did so more than once, and this list includes some of the greatest players of All-Time in: Michael Jordan, Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Moses Malone, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, LeBron James, Stephen Curry and Giannis Antetokounmpo. 

Nikola Jokic is looking to make it thirteen players in NBA history that have won back-to-back league-MVP awards and his performance on Sunday night was special. 

Entering the fourth quarter with 16 points and his team trailing the Pelicans by 10 points, Nikola Jokic put on a show, scoring 23 of his team’s 40 points in the fourth to tie the game and force overtime, in which Jokic scored another 7 points to give the Nuggets the 138-130 overtime victory. 

Willing his team to victory, Nikola Jokic recorded a total of 46 points on 16-22 shooting, 12 rebounds, 11 assists, 3 steals and 4 blocks. This was his league-leading 17th triple-double of the season and Nikola Jokic made history with his statline on Sunday night.

LATEST NBA NEWS: Pelicans vs Nuggets Recap: Jokic Makes True MVP Impact In Win

Not only did Jokic become just the second player in NBA history with a 45-point triple-double on 70% shooting, joining the legendary Wilt Chamberlain, but he recorded the first 40/10/10/3/3 game in NBA history, according to StatMuse.

Getting it done on both ends of the floor, Nikola Jokic has had to find ways to carry the Nuggets to victories this season and what is most impressive about his season compared to last year is that he has helped his team win games without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. 

Currently 38-26 on the season, the Nuggets are now just one full game behind the Dallas Mavericks for the 5-seed in the Western Conference and when comparing them to Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers, they almost have identical records, as the 76ers are 39-24 on the year. 

The MVP conversation is heating up heading down the stretch-run of the regular season and while guys like DeMar DeRozan and Ja Morant deserve consideration, this is really a two-man race between Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic. 

LATEST NBA NEWS: Pelicans vs Nuggets Recap: Jokic Makes True MVP Impact In Win

If you ask the Nuggets and some of their players on who should win the award though, Nikola Jokic seems like the clear-cut answer at this time: 

After the game, Aaron Gordon also spoke about his team’s MVP and what his performance against the Pelicans meant as a whole. 

“Phenomenal. Different. He’s just different,” Gordon told reporters. “That’s just not something that you see often. He took over, 30 points in the fourth quarter and overtime; that’s just sick. That was just an amazing game. He’s an amazing ballplayer.”

Nuggets’ head coach Michael Malone also talked about Jokic’s performance in his post-game conference, stating that this was “just another reason, example, exhibition of why Nikola’s the MVP.” 

LATEST NBA NEWS: Pelicans vs Nuggets Recap: Jokic Makes True MVP Impact In Win

Right now, the MVP race between Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic is extremely tight and you could really make an argument for either player. 

Whether it is the eye-test, season stats or anything else, the MVP voters this season are going to have an extremely difficult time picking between two of the league’s most dominant big men. Nikola Jokic has stepped up his game to an even higher level than he did a season ago when he won the award, which is why he has a really strong chance to become the thirteenth player in NBA history to win back-to-back MVP awards.

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