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Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić is the 2021-22 NBA MVP, ESPN and the Athletic reported Monday, claiming his second consecutive trophy after carrying the depleted Nuggets to a 48-34 record and having one of the most statistically impressive individual seasons in NBA history—here are some of his most eye-popping stats.
Jokic’s basic box score statistics of 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists are MVP-worthy in and of themselves, but for a season in which fellow MVP candidates— Philadelphia 76ers Center Joel Embiid (30.6 points, 11.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists) and Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (29.9 points, 11.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists)—are also posting historic numbers on teams with slightly better records, several advanced statistics separate Jokić from the field.
Jokić finished the 2021-22 season with a player efficiency rating (PER) of 32.85—the highest single-season mark for the highly-coveted catch-all statistic in NBA history, passing up Hall of Fame center Wilt Chamberlain’s previous record of 32.08 (which has been untouched for 60 years) and ahead of Antetokounmpo and Embiid, who posted the 3rd- and 14th-highest marks in league history this season, respectively.
Jokić’s assist rate—the rate in which he assisted on his teammates’ field goals while he was on the court—of nearly 43% is the highest single-season rate for a center in NBA history, further blurring positional definitions as he essentially acts as the Nuggets’ point guard while also being a 6’11 dominating force in the paint.
As a scorer, Jokić true shooting rate—a metric that factors in 3-point and free throw efficiency—of 66.1% is the highest rate in the league for any player with a usage rate of over 20% (Jokić’s 30.9% usage rate, an estimate of how much of a team’s offense is run through a given player, is the 12th-highest in the league).
Jokić has been criticized for his struggles on defense in the past, but according to RAPTOR, FiveThirtyEight’s model that incorporates player tracking data to approximate a player’s value, Jokić was the second-most valuable defensive player in the league this season, falling behind only Utah Jazz center Rudy Gobert, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year.
Jokić is the only player in NBA history to record 2,000 points, 1,000 rebounds and 500 assists in a single season.
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How many first place votes Jokić receives from the 100 media voters who collectively decide the league’s MVP. The NBA will formally announce voting results later this week, ESPN reported Monday.
Jokić’s efficiency is notable when factoring in the Nuggets’ lack of surrounding talent this year. Just before the start of the 2021 NBA postseason, Jokić’s co-star Jamal Murray tore his ACL, and would go on to miss the entirety of the 2021-22 regular season while recovering from surgery. In December, the Nuggets’ up-and-coming star Michael Porter Jr., whom Denver signed to a maximum contract extension in the offseason, was ruled out for the season after undergoing back surgery. The Nuggets lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Golden State Warriors last month, despite Jokić’s series-leading 31 points per game and 13.2 rebounds per game.
DraftKings Sportsbook gave Jokić 15-1 odds to win his second MVP before the start of the 2021-22 season, presumably factoring in the expected absence of Murray and projecting the Nuggets to have a poor record as a result.