NUGGETS

Nikola Jokic is the runaway MVP favorite in a new very accurate poll

Feb 16, 2023, 12:02 PM | Updated: 12:07 pm

If you had put $100 down on Nikola Jokic to win the MVP in 2021, put the winnings on Jokic going back-to-back in 2022 and then placed those winnings on him to three-peat, you would stand to win $405,000.

If you’re the crazy Denver Nuggets homer who did this, we’ve got good news for you. You could be just weeks away from nearly half a million dollars.

According to ESPN’s latest Straw Poll run by Tim Bontemps, Jokic has separated from the pack and is now a clear favorite to win his third straight Michael Jordan National Basketball Association Most Valuable Player Award. No player, including the award’s namesake, has accomplished the feat since Larry Bird pulled off a three-peat from 1984 to 1986. Wilt Chamberlain and Bill Russell are the only other two players in league history to win three MVP awards in a row.

The feat is one of the most historic and rare accomplishments even among basketball’s greatest players. And Jokic has put himself in that upper echelon with his season. Jokic is averaging a triple-double 24.7 points, 11.5 rebounds and 10.1 assists, which has only been done by two players for a season in NBA history, Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook. All the while Jokic is leading the Nuggets to the best record in the west and third-best in the NBA heading into the All-Star Break.

Those stats combined with Jokic’s efficiency—shooting 63.2% from the field, 39.1% from deep and 82.2% from the line—and a significantly weakened by injuries to MVP contenders, has put the Nuggets center easily in front of the race.

The second edition of ESPN’s NBA MVP Straw Poll of this season tallies 77 out of 100 first-place votes and 913 total points for Jokic.

Following Jokic are five players who also got at least one first-place MVP vote, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Jayson Tatum and Luka Doncic.

Jokic was only fourth in December’s same poll. But four significant injuries to the top nine vying for the trophy has narrowed down the pool.

Last season Jokic was also fourth in the first poll, second in the second poll and was in the lead in the final poll. Two years ago he was third in the first poll and and was in the lead for the final poll of the shortened season.

Since this poll asks many NBA MVP voters for their current take, it is normally the most accurate tool in assessing the race.

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