Now that 2019 is here, it’s time to start thinking about the NBA’s Most Valuable Player award. The usual suspects are on the list of early candidates: James Harden, Steph Curry, LeBron James, Kawhi Leonard, etc. Then there are few newcomers, too, like Paul George and Giannis Antetokounmpo. It’s an unsurprisingly stacked field early in the season that will thin out as the year goes on.
However, in the general conversation, one name that absolutely needs to be thrown around has missing: Nuggets big man Nikola Jokic.
He’s, of course, getting his due praise in the city of Denver. He gets chants, Nuggets fans go to war for him on the internet, and he’s putting up some pretty insane numbers going for 18 points, 9.9 rebounds, and 7.6 assists per game. Perhaps even more important than that is the team success, because while it would be one thing if Jokic was doing this for a mediocre team, the Nuggets surprisingly sit atop the Western Conference. Team success is a huge factor in the MVP award, and Jokic has spearheaded his team’s success.
So where is his push? Jokic rang in the new year with a 115-108 victory over the Knicks, a game in which he had 19 points, 15 assists, and 14 rebounds. The home fans gave him praise, and everyone spoke about his performance like it was nothing special, because anyone who watches him would know this is what Jokic just does.
“Another day at the office,” Harris said. “That’s what he does.”
“You cannot not hear that,” Jokic said. “I like (it) loud. I appreciate it. But let’s just go step-by-step.”
“The game just came to me,” Jokic said. “In the first quarter I didn’t score that much, in the first half I kind of find of my teammates. … I really don’t know. Everything is not that hard.”