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Nuggets Nikola Jokic Wins NBA MVP

Written by:
C Costigan
Published on:
Jun/10/2021

Serbian-born Nikola Jokic has been announced as the winner of the 2020-2021 NBA MVP award. Jokic joins Giannis Antetokounmpo and Dirk Nowitzki as the three Europeans to win the award. Two other foreign-born players have also won in the past - Hakeem Olajuwon and Steve Nash.

The MVP award is largely reserved for players with high expectations from the get-go, with Antetokounmpo and Nash, both 15th overall draft picks, sharing the distinction of being the lowest drafted players to ever win. Jokic was the 41st overall pick in the 2014 NBA Draft, so he has now shattered that record and become the most unlikely winner in NBA history.

So unlikely in fact that when he was drafted in 2014 the NBA Draft was actually at a commercial break. The biggest moment of the young Serbian’s life was lost behind a Taco Bell commercial.

Now he has been recognized as the best player in the world.

The Rise of Jokic

NBA stars are largely predetermined. From his high school days, everyone was already waiting for LeBron James to enter the NBA. Zion Williamson was practically given a place in the basketball Hall of Fame before the end of freshman season at Duke.

Jokic was an afterthought as a draft pick. He was unathletic, struggled defensively, and managed to play just 21 minutes a game as a rookie, averaging 10 points and 7 rebounds. Jokic didn’t receive a single vote for rookie of the year, losing out to Karl-Anthony Towns.

But Jokic could pass, and that kept him in the lineup. And the rest of his game developed. As a rookie, he recorded zero triple-doubles. This season he had 16. As a rookie, he took 516 shots. This season he made 640 of his shots. Jokic played in every game and carried the team to a 13-5 regular season record after Jamal Murray tore his ACL. And he has the Nuggets in the Western Conference Semifinals.

Jokic Win Means Bettor’s Payday

If you placed a wager on Jokic to win the MVP award at the beginning of the season you got +2900 odds. Back when the season began Giannis was the favorite, paying +465. Steph Curry followed him at +825.

By March Jokic was the favorite, and when the regular season ended in May a bet on Jokic was paying -925.

Jokic received 91 of the 101 possible first-place votes. Steph Curry, in a resurgent season, got five first-place votes. Chris Paul with the Suns got two votes. The three other players who got one vote each are Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Derrick Rose.

The consensus fan vote is how Rose received a first-place vote. No other voter ranked him in the top five, nor should they have.

Steph Curry Thinking About Olympic Play

Warriors great Steph Curry would obviously prefer to be in the playoffs, instead of at home and watching. But there may be one silver lining to Golden State’s loss in the play-in tournament, and that is that Curry is now resting, and thinking about playing in the upcoming Summer Olympics in Japan.

Because of the delay at the start of the season and the longer playoffs, the layoff between the end of the NBA Finals and the start of the Olympic basketball tournament is just a handful of days. So the players that make it to the end are likely out as far as Team USA is concerned.

LeBron James and Anthony Davis have already said no to the Olympics. If the Nets keep winning, that would eliminate Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. Kawhi Leonard is still playing with the Clippers.

If Curry were to say yes, at least one big-name would be on the team. And as of right now Curry is reportedly 50-50 on deciding to participate. He won a gold medal at the World Cup in 2010 and 2014 but has never participated in the Olympic Games.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is the Team USA head coach, with Warriors coach Steve Kerr serving as an Olympic team assistant coach. And the odds that Kerr is placing daily phone calls to Curry, begging him to play, is right around 100%.

The U.S. is posted on the early odds board as the prohibitive favorites to win the gold medal at -525, their next closest competitor being Spain at +900.

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