By Kyle Brandon
November 12, 2021
There's been plenty of headlines and discussion about the altercation between Nikola Jokic and Markieff Morris. It's been the topic of discussion on all the hot take tv shows, and podcasts alike. A lot of people are talking but not much has been said. But what's not being talked about is the dominating streak that Jokic has continued on since winning last year's MVP award.
With Jamal Murray out for the season, and Michael Porter Jr. missing time Nikola's top two options turn into Will Barton and Monte Morris. A tandem that isn't exactly ideal for a team that had championship aspirations going into this season. It would be understandable, and borderline expected, for this team to pack up for the first half of the season and coast until their young stars return, but Jokic wont let them. Not only statistically leading the team in all categories, but his mentality has been huge for this diminished Nuggets team.
When Jokic went down with a knee contusion in the first half of the Utah matchup, he headed to the locker room as Nuggets fans held their breaths. He tested out the knee at halftime but Nuggets Coach Malone held him out until they got further testing. Just like that, Nikola Jokic took the court during their next game against the Mavericks.
The Nuggets are half a game back from second place in the division and 4th place in point differential. The Nuggets have shed their image as an offensive yet soft team. This season they currently hold the 23rd ranked offense in the league per Cleaning the Glass. Mixing Jokic's offensive efficiency and Denver's defensive improvements makes for a scary combination. They have held eight of their eleven opponents under 100 points this season, which is impressive in today's NBA.
Jokic's defense was on full display during hi game winning block against Houston in the final seconds to come out on top by 1 point. He's having games this year where he leads his team in points, rebounds, and assists. Just like last season, he is top 20 in all three categories amongst all league leaders. An impressive task that not even Giannis or Harden could do in their historic MVP seasons. These aren't the only MVP qualities that Jokic has shown this season.
The last 6 MVPs have all been #1 in PER. Jokic is currently #1.
The last 6 MVPs have all been top 2 in Value over Replacement. Jokic is currently #1.
The last 6 MVPs have all been top 2 in Box Plus/Minus. Jokic is currently #1.
The last 4 MVPs have all been #1 in Win Shares per 48 minutes. Jokic is currently #1.
The last 6 MVPs have all been top 5 in Win shares. Jokic is currently #1.
Previously the highest PER in a season was 31. This was only achieved by a few of the best to ever play the game: Jordan, LeBron, Wilt, Steph, Giannis, and Jokic last year. This year he's on pace for a Player Efficiency Rating of 35. Last year's MVP race wasn't the most clear cut choice, and this season Jokic doesn't seem to be in the lead in the eyes of many. It might be time to change that.