Why Nikola Jokic deserves our attention

Published January 21, 2022, 10:50 AMRenee Ticzon

Despite consistently putting up monster numbers, reigning MVP Nikola Jokic continues to fly under everyone's radar. But that shouldn't be the case.

Nikola Jokic is averaging 25.9 points (57% FG), 13.9 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game this season.

Let’s set the scene.

The game is tied with 26.4 seconds on the clock, Nuggets with possession. Nikola Jokic receives the ball beyond the arc on the right side of the court. He gets double-teamed, but being the master passer that he is, spots a wide-open Aaron Gordon standing in the left corner and whips a cross-court pass with two seconds on the shot clock. Gordon makes the 3, Denver wins the game.

The entire Nuggets bench runs to Gordon to hug him, while the MVP just walks off with a smile. Gordon was named Best Player for his clutch 3 that helped the Nuggets beat the LA Clippers in overtime on Wednesday. In the post-game interview, though, Gordon put the spotlight back on the guy who made it possible.

“Big fella, big clutch. All season long. He’s a beast, he makes the right play every time,” he said of Jokic. 


Jokic ended the game with a line of 49 points, 14 rebounds, and 10 assists—his 10th triple-double of the season. Everyone knows these triple-double lines aren’t a rare occurrence for the Nuggets star. He has consistently delivered and could single-handedly take the Denver Nuggets to the postseason if he continues to deliver the goods.

Some people would argue that Jokic just had one great game. Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and other stars have had a series of great games this season to put them at the forefront of the MVP race. But if you’ve been following the Nuggets’ journey this season, there’s so much more to the way Jokic is playing than you would think. There’s an actual case for Jokic this year to repeat as MVP, and here’s why.

Three things that are often associated with the MVP award are: great stats, an interesting narrative, and a great team standing.

If you want to talk about stats, Jokic has the numbers. Compared to his MVP season, Jokic’s stats this year (25.3 points, 13.9 rebounds, and 7.8 assists) are pretty much the same. 

He worked on his weight and conditioning in the offseason and improved on defense, which has been his weakness since he entered the league. He went from a 112.6 defensive rating last year to a 104.7 rating this season.

Stats, check.

The Nuggets have had to rely on Jokic more this season because of their injuries. Star guard Jamal Murray has been sidelined since April 2021 due to an ACL injury with no clear timetable for his return. To add insult to injury (pun intended), Michael Porter Jr. is out indefinitely with a back injury.

With two of their three best players out, the bulk of the work has fallen onto Jokic’s shoulders. He does get help from Gordon and Will Barton on some occasions but both players are averaging below 20 points. The Nuggets don’t have another guy who can put up consistent numbers, someone who Jokic can defer to when he’s having an off-day.

But that’s just how great Jokic is—the Nuggets can survive with just one superstar.

In their OT win against the Clippers, Jokic scored 37 points in the second half and overtime period. His triple-double put him at the top of the leaderboard for most triple-doubles this season. Undoubtedly, Jokic is single-handedly keeping the Nuggets’ playoffs hopes alive. 

Narrative, check.

The Nuggets have managed to stay afloat even with all the injuries. They are currently in sixth place in the West with a record of 23-20. They also have a decent home record with 12-8 and are 6-4 in their last 10 games.

So yes, Jokic ticks all the boxes: stats, narrative, team standing. He is one of the most gifted offensive centers the game has ever seen. And for some reason, I believe that a guy this talented deserves back-to-back MVP trophies especially if the Nuggets make the playoffs.

He doesn’t get the spotlight as much as the other superstars in the league unless he makes a flashy play or two. Nobody takes Jokic seriously. But it’s about time we should.