Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic wins MVP award

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·4 min read

Denver Nuggets star Nikola Jokic won the league’s top award.

Jokic beat out Stephen Curry and Joel Embiid on Tuesday afternoon to take home the 2020-21 MVP award, the league announced.

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"It doesn't affect me that much, to be honest," Jokic said, via the Washington Post's Ben Golliver. "When I see the list, of course there's great names. It's an honor. I never thought I would be on the list. It's a surprise. 

"I'd rather win a championship than MVP."

Jokic averaged 26.4 points and 10.8 rebounds per game this season, both career highs, while leading the Nuggets to the third seed in the Western Conference playoffs.

The 26-year-old is wrapping up his sixth season with Denver, which selected him with the No. 41 overall pick in 2014. Jokic is now the lowest draft pick in NBA history to take home that award, and the only player in Nuggets history to win the MVP award.

Jokic was actually selected during a Taco Bell commercial during the draft that year, and then didn't make the trek over from Serbia until 2015.

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“I didn’t even think about being in the NBA [as a kid],” he said on TNT. “My goal, when I started to play basketball back home, was playing in the EuroLeague, because that was the closest top league to my country. … Then the Nuggets drafted me, it was an opportunity for me to become an NBA player. I think I did a good job of using that opportunity.”

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Jokic played in all 72 games for Denver this season, too, making him the first MVP to play in every single game since Kobe Bryant won in 2008.

Jokic was one of three finalists named for the award, alongside Curry and Embiid. Curry won the league scoring title this season while averaging 32 points per game and averaging a career-high 5.3 made 3-pointers per contest with the Golden State Warriors. Embiid put up a career-best 28.5 points and 10.6 rebounds with the Philadelphia 76ers. 

Embiid came in second in the voting, and Curry came in third. Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo — who is coming off back-to-back MVP wins — came in fourth, and Suns guard Chris Paul rounded out the top five.

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The Nuggets are currently in the middle of their second-round playoff series with the Phoenix Suns. Denver lost Game 1 on Monday night by 17 points, though Jokic dropped 22 points and nine rebounds. He's averaged better than 31 points and 10 rebounds throughout the postseason so far.

Why did Derrick Rose get a first-place vote?

Though almost all of the voting made sense, there was one that left fans very puzzled.

New York Knicks guard Derrick Rose received a single first-place vote.

Though the former MVP has had a solid season since landing with the Knicks midway through the season — he averaged 14.9 points and 4.2 assists per game — it wasn’t anywhere near MVP-caliber worthy.

He also played all but three of his 35 games for the Knicks off the bench.

Rose’s lone first-place vote, however, wasn’t from a media member. Instead, it came as the cumulative fan vote.

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Though that can leave other questions about why fans opted to pick Rose as their MVP, it at least explains how Rose was among the six who received a first-place vote.

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