Can Nikola Jokic secure a 2nd MVP in a row?
By Darin Sepelj
Denver Nuggets centre Nikola Jokic returned to action on Monday night after missing 4 games due to injury. The Serb dropped 24 points, 15 rebounds and 7 assists against the Miami Heat in a 120-111 victory, almost achieving a triple double which he is famously known for doing. He was the standout performer against the team with whom he had an altercation with last month, due to bodychecking Markieff Morris onto the floor after having been elbowed in the ribs. The Heat were looking to gain their revenge, but the reigning MVP proved too hot to handle.
The question is, can the Joker secure the title of MVP once again this season? In my personal opinion I believe it is very possible, but it will also be very difficult. This is because of one man. Steph Curry. Curry has had an unbelievable start to this NBA season, averaging 28.6 ppg and leading the Warriors to the best record in the league of 18-2. He has also scored the most points in a game with 50 points against the Hawks (alongside 10 assists and 7 rebounds) and is the player with the most made three pointers with 105 currently. The point guard who has won MVP twice is looking to get his third and is looking the most likely to take Jokic’s crown.
Jokic definitely has his work cut out for him if he is to retain his title but there are still over 60 games left in the regular season to play. And it’s not like Jokic has been below par, if anything he has been continuing his MVP form and carrying the Nuggets. He is averaging 26.2 ppg, 13.7 rpg and 6.4 apg. In my opinion no player is more important to a team than Jokic, this is evident with how bad the Nuggets are without him on the court. These are very impressive stats, but the one stat that the Joker stands out in is Player Efficiency Rating (PER or Efficiency per game). PER according to its inventor Hollinger “strives to measure a player's per-minute performance, while adjusting for pace. A league-average PER is always 15.00, which permits comparisons of player performance across seasons. PER takes into account accomplishments, such as field goals, free throws, 3-pointers, assists, rebounds, blocks and steals, and negative results, such as missed shots, turnovers and personal fouls. The formula adds positive stats and subtracts negative ones through a statistical point value system. The rating for each player is then adjusted to a per-minute basis so that, for example, substitutes can be compared with starters in playing time debates. It is also adjusted for the team's pace. In the end, one number sums up the players' statistical accomplishments for that season”. Hollinger also stated that if a player has a PER rating of 35+ it means that they are having an all-time great season. Jokic finished with a PER of 35.9 last season, which is the best rating for any player in the history of the NBA. According to this, Jokic had the best season of any NBA player ever. What is his current PER rating for this season after 15 games? 37.0. Yes. 37.0. He is currently doing better than last season, which is incredible to think, and if he keeps it up then he should easily win another MVP. Despite the Player Efficiency Rating having some tiny flaws, this is quite remarkable from Nikola Jokic. Although he is clearly the most efficient player and the most valuable to his team, his performances do often go under the radar and he is not as popular as other big players in the league, which could hinder his chances when it goes to the MVP vote.
To conclude, I believe that the MVP race as of now is between Steph Curry and Nikola Jokic. Who will win? Only time will tell, but what is certain is that both players are set to have a sensational season of basketball.