We should maintain the simplicity of Nikola Jokic’s argument for a third consecutive MVP.


Usually, the simplest solution turns out to be the correct one.

The MVP debate in the NBA is never completely neutral. That is how discourse that aims to identify the best of the best operates. However, this season’s top contenders are more closely linked than usual.

John Jokic. Embiid Joel. Antetokounmpo Giannis.

That would be my personal finishing order with a few weeks left to play — with the caveat that this race is tight enough to hinge on a few games, particularly the Philly-Denver game on March 27 and the Philly-Milwaukee game on April 2. Despite this, I don’t vote, thus this isn’t how I envision the outcome of the election. Embiid would be my choice if I were to place a bet right now.

The argument for Embiid is strong: runner-up the previous two years. The backbone of a top-six defense and the league’s top scorer. now in the midst of a scoring streak of 10 games that has only been matched twice in this century. With the same amount of victories as Jokic’s Nuggets heading into Tuesday’s game, he has the Sixers competing for the No. 2 spot.

The fact that Antetokounmpo and Jokic have already won two MVP awards may have the biggest impact. Nobody has won three straight games since Larry Bird in the middle of the 1980s, but Jokic has won two straight games. Voter drowsiness is a genuine issue. It might be that easy in a close race. It appears to be Embiid’s moment.

To keep things straightforward, though, we should all refrain from straying too far from the topic at hand. Who has the highest market value? We should all be able to agree that the question we are ultimately asking is this: Which player has meant the most to whatever success his team has experienced this season? Reasonable minds can and do disagree on the specifics of value and what ultimately constitutes its definition.

This isn’t a player of the year honor.

This serves as a gauge of worth.

Thus, the context of the team should be important. When a game is this close, it becomes challenging, if not downright dishonest, to argue that a player whose team completely collapses when he leaves the field isn’t inherently more valuable than a player whose team maintains a positive net worth even in his absence. You’ll frequently hear arguments suggesting that a player shouldn’t be penalized for having a strong supporting cast, and while I somewhat agree with that, in this situation.

Who is the least disposable, to put it another way? A considerably sharper view and hence a strong candidate are shown through this prism. This is Jokic. Always Jokic, it seems.

Of course, Jokic’s on-and-off-court statistics have been praised endlessly. Here, I’m not offering anything novel. But this contributes to the issue. The same way that people weary of the same answer, they tire of the same proof.

It is important to reiterate that the Nuggets outscore their opponents by 13.3 points per 100 possessions when Jokic is on the court, according to CTG. His absence causes the Nuggets to score 13.8 points less per 100 possessions. In other words, the Nuggets are by far the best team in the league when Jokic is there and by far the worst team in the league when he isn’t.

You could argue that these numbers more accurately represent Denver’s poor bench, but in the context of his situation, that’s precisely why Jokic is so valuable. Denver would be lost without him. While Giannis is sidelined, the Bucks continue to be a net-positive team.

Until you do the math for Denver and realize the Nuggets lose more than 27 points per 100 possessions without Jokic, you might think the Sixers losing 10.4 points per 100 possessions without Embiid is significant.

We love to use the words “floor” and “ceiling” when it comes to draft time. Without Jokic, Denver is without a floor. If you take him out of the picture, the Nuggets disappear into thin air. He is also the biggest ceiling raiser, though.

The Nuggets have a greater net rating when Jokic is on the court than Philadelphia when Embiid and Harden are playing together and Milwaukee when Antetokounmpo, Jrue Holiday, and Brook Lopez are on the court, as long as Jokic is there.

As long as Jokic is active, the Nuggets still qualify as a more statistically powerful team than the Bucks or Sixers even if you remove his two best colleagues, Aaron Gordon and Jamal Murray, at +11.4 per 100.

Once more, individuals may become confused by the phrase “statistically” at this point. They’re sick of all the complicated math. They’ll claim that basketball isn’t played on a spreadsheet. the games to watch! I would concur with this. You can observe the Nuggets both with and without Jokic without the need for a spreadsheet.

However, if you disregard, or even downplay, these figures because you don’t watch the Nuggets or watch them less frequently than the Sixers and/or Bucks, you are acting willfully stupid. No one is lying. Furthermore, they are not intended to minimize the significant accomplishments of Embiid or Antetokounmpo.

That component always taints these discussions. We end up dismantling the other cases in an effort to advance one. These three players are all at the MVP level and are having MVP-caliber seasons. In fact, this season, no fewer than 10 players fit the bill for that assertion. perhaps more. There has never been a larger pool of elite talent.

This is why these discussions get so complex. We’re attempting to separate the very finest hairs. But the ideal strategy for doing so, wherever possible, is to break things down into their simplest forms whenever you’re trying to figure out something complicated.

That will result in Jokic winning. Again. The easiest response is him. Additionally, in my experience, the simplest solution is frequently the best one.