Based On The Latest MVP Polling, Nikola Jokic Is On Pace To Become The First Player To Win 3 Straight MVPs Since Larry Bird
Two months ago to the day, ESPN put out the initial NBA MVP Straw Poll as we were around 30ish games into the season. Not a gigantic sample, but large enough to where we had an initial idea of how things were shaping up this season. When those results came out, they were somewhat surprising
At this time, the Celts were atop the East with a record of 22-8, the Bucks weren't far behind at 20-8, the Mavs and Warriors were in the Play In but both Steph and Luka were off to some rather insane statistical starts.
The surprising part were obviously names like Jokic being 5th and Embiid all the way in 10th, despite those two being in the top 2 in each of the previous 2 seasons.
Fast forward to today, and we have our next wave of results for this same poll. Let's have a look
As you can see, things have changed quite a bit outside of Giannis staying in the #2 spot. As of today, the Celts still sit atop the NBA at 42-17, the Bucks aren't far behind at 40-16, and the Nuggets own the best record in the West at 41-18. The only thing I might adjust from these current results is I could see the argument for Embiid being #2 on this list. If we're going from that 12/16 date when the first poll came out, only the Nuggets have more wins than Embiid's Sixers. Even if the Bucks win tonight, they'll still trail by 1 win. I get that the Bucks are on a 11 game winning streak since Giannis returned and he has been incredible during that stretch, but the same is also true of Joel Embiid, who is playing on a team that technically has been more successful over the last 20+ games.
Over that span, Embiid has played 26 games to Giannis 22, so it's not some sort of giant gap if you care about games played.
The biggest takeaway though is that while many Sixers fans declared the MVP race over when Embiid outplayed Jokic head to head a few weeks ago, it appears that is not the case. In fact, based on these results, we're in line to see something in the league that hasn't been done in over 37 years. The last man to win 3 straight MVPs? None other than the Legend himself
Is this entire blog just an excuse for me to play that video? Maybe. It's arguably one of the best videos on the internet, I apologize for nothing.
Of course, as you can imagine, once certain fanbases (cough cough MIL and PHI) saw this result, the crying once again started. This time, it's less about weirdos complaining about advanced analytics and more about voter fatigue. So far, it does not seem like Jokic is suffering from the same sort of voter fatigue we've seen with previous winners.
I do find it interesting that I'm not sure we heard Bucks fans crying about voter fatigue when Giannis won his during the Harden run. The idea of voter fatigue has been around for forever, and I hate it. If a guy is good enough to win the MVP, then he's the MVP. It shouldn't matter what happened in previous years, it's about this current year. That's true for MJ, LeBron, Steph, Giannis, Jokic etc.
Unfortunately, that's now how it works. Guys have definitely been penalized for previously winning the MVP, and my guess is even if it doesn't happen with Jokic this year, it'll happen again to another two time winner down the road.
The reality though, is Jokic's case is about as solid as you could ask for an MVP candidate. He has the team success, he has the individual production, he's doing shit the league has never seen before (again), and not to mention he's about as humble as it gets. What's annoying about this award is fanbases simply refuse to acknowledge that anyone else in the league could possibly be the MVP over "their" guy. That's so lame. I'm someone who would love to see Tatum win the MVP. He's the best player on the best team and has some solid production to go along with it.
But I can't sit here and tell you he has the best case for MVP given what's happening around him with other players. For some reason, if you look at the discourse going on with Bucks and Sixers fans, it's the exact opposite. It's as if they are incapable of admitting that this dude
is arguably the best player in the league this season.
Instead of appreciating greatness, just like these fanbases want us to do with Giannis and Embiid, they can't bring themselves to do the same for Jokic. Why? He's without a doubt one of the most fun players to watch in the NBA, his team is a legit contender, and he does things that shouldn't be possible at his position.
In his previous two MVPs, people cried about advanced analytics, all because they didn't point to the guy they wanted to win. Well, even if you go by the normal counting stats, how do you argue that 24.7/11.5/101 on 63/39% for the best team in the West isn't a worthy MVP leader? There is no other All Star or All NBA player on the Nuggets. Jamal Murray and MPJ have missed time, and the Nuggets are where they are because Nikola Jokic exists.
The good news is there's still plenty of time left. If the Bucks finish strong and end the year with the best record in the NBA, chances are he has a good shot of passing Jokic, especially if the Nuggets blow their 1 seed lead. That might be unrealistic, so even if it doesn't happen, who cares? No matter how you slice it, whether it's Jokic, Giannis, Embiid, Tatum etc, all have a legit case to the award. None of those guys are currently doing what Jokic is accomplishing on a nightly basis on the court, whether you care about advanced analytics or normal counting stats. Those are just the facts.
So here's an idea. Instead of being big babies and crying that your favorite player might not win the MVP, maybe grow up and just appreciate the fact that we are witnessing one of the greatest players to ever play in the league. It won't hurt, I promise.