Jokić becomes first Denver Nugget and first second round pick to win MVP in Modern NBA History
Denver, June 8, 2021 – It was announced today that Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić has been named the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for the 2020-21 season. The end of season awards were voted on by members of the media.
Jokić, 26, caps off his historic season by becoming the first second round draft pick in modern NBA history to win the award and the first Denver Nugget in the team’s NBA history to be named MVP. Jokić earned his third consecutive All-Star nomination this year, his first being voted as an All-Star Starter. He was named Western Conference Player of the Month twice (Dec./Jan. and March) and Western Conference Player of the Week three times (Jan. 25, Feb. 1, Mar. 22).
“Nikola’s journey from the 41st pick in the draft to MVP is one of the most remarkable individual stories we have witnessed in sports,” said Chairman E. Stanley Kroenke. “His hard work, commitment and dedication to his craft, team and community are second to none. We couldn’t be more proud and fortunate to have him with us in Denver.”
“The only thing better than Nikola Jokić the basketball player is Nikola Jokić the person,” stated Vice Chairman Josh Kroenke. “His skill and IQ combine for beautiful basketball, and there isn’t a more deserving person for such a prestigious award.”
The Joker averaged career-highs across the board with 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists in 34.6 minutes per game. He also shot career-high percentages from the field (.566), behind the arc (.388) and from the free-throw line (.868) while adding 1.32 steals per game. He registered 60 double-doubles and 16 triple-doubles this season, surpassing Dikembe Mutombo for most double-doubles in Nuggets history and passing Fat Lever for most career-triple doubles as well as tying him for most triple-doubles in a single season.
“What an amazing accomplishment for an amazing individual. Nikola has worked tirelessly to become the player that he is and we are unbelievably lucky to have him leading our franchise,” said President of Basketball Operations Tim Connelly. “He is an elite individual on and off the court who is surrounded by a loving and supportive family that have helped make this day possible.”
“I’m so happy and respect so much the hard work and dedication that he’s put in to reach this point,” stated Head Coach Michael Malone. “I’ve been lucky enough to coach Nikola his entire career, and to see his growth from a second-round pick trying to learn the NBA to a perennial All-Star and now the MVP is truly extraordinary. He deserves this honor and I don’t take for granted getting to coach a player, and more importantly a person like Nikola.”
The Sombor, Serbia native was the only All-Star and one of just seven players overall to appear in all 72 games this year. He led the NBA in PER (Player Efficiency Rating), finished third in total points (12th in ppg), fifth in total rebounds (9th in rpg), third in total assists (6th in apg) and 11th in total steals. Jokić becomes the third player in NBA history (Elgin Baylor, Wilt Chamberlain) to finish a season ranked top-five in total points, rebounds and assists. He also joins Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook as the only players in NBA history to average 26+ points, 10+ rebounds and 8+ assists for an entire season.
Jokić was originally drafted by Denver with the 41st pick of the 2014 NBA Draft. The previous lowest draft position to win the MVP was 15th overall (Nash, Antetokounmpo). He is the first center to win MVP since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000 and just the sixth center to win the award since the three-point line was introduced in 1979-80. Jokić also led the league in Win Shares (15.6), Offensive Win Shared (12.2), Box Plus/Minus (11.7), Offensive Box Plus/Minus (9.2) and Value Over Replacement Player (8.6). Lastly, Jokić led the Nuggets in total points, rebounds and assists for the fourth consecutive season, becoming the first player in NBA history to accomplish this feat.