Week 21 NBA MVP Ladder: 1. Nikola Jokic
Off EPM / Def EPM: +7.4/+1.3
Nikola Jokic remains atop the MVP ladder thanks to his virtuosic performance Sunday night against the New Orleans Pelicans. Jokic had an absurd 30 points in the fourth quarter and OT and continues to be the best crunch-time player this side of Chris Paul.
Jokic is an impossible problem for defenses to solve. Double-teaming him is death. He uses his size to brutalize smaller players who switch onto him for easy post buckets, and he’s far too quick and clever for the oversized behemoths who can match him pound-for-pound. The Joker is equally capable of dropping in rainbows from behind the three-point line or tipping in a teammate’s miss with his off-hand.
He makes an impact on both sides, too. Jokic would’ve added a game-winning steal to his highlight reel of game-clinching blocks this season if Jeff Green hadn’t rushed the bunny layup as time expired against New Orleans.
At this point, there might not be another player who’s better at the end of games. Even Paul essentially has one (extremely effective) move to get himself an open look. The problem with Jokic is that he can do anything, from anywhere, at any time.
And for all the applause Embiid is getting for carrying the Philadelphia 76ers to the two-seed in the East, the Nuggets are just 1.5 games worse despite a significantly weaker supporting cast!
Jokic will need to finish strong, but as of now, he is the MVP.