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NBA MVP race isn’t close

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The field for the 2024 NBA MVP has been the same throughout the season.

A handful of players have stood out above everybody else all year long, really making the All-NBA vote a formality too. The first-team should feature Luka Doncic, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Jayson Tatum, Giannis Antetoukoumpo and Nikola Jokic.

I’ve seen people try to talk themselves into a number of players, all of whom have strong cases for the League’s top individual honor. It hasn’t been a question for me, though.

Jokic this spring should walk away with his third MVP award. The Denver Nuggets superstar has been the best player in the NBA for the better part of the last four years. Watch any Nuggets game and it’s clear: Jokic is the sun in Denver’s orbit.

It often feels like the Nuggets are toying with a lot of teams considered to be in the same class. Denver fell behind big in Boston in January before getting serious and coming back to earn a 2-point win. The Nuggets won a March 7 rematch in Denver and led for much of the game. In the two games against the Celtics, Jokic was unreal. He averaged a 33/12/10 on .61/.50/100 shooting splits.

Jokic this season averages at least 25 points a game against 20 of the 30 NBA teams. He’s averaged a triple double against nine teams. The only team he doesn’t average double figure points against is the lowly Detroit Pistons, but it looked like Jokic was just trying different things in those contests.

No matter how topsy turvy the West gets — with Denver, Oklahoma City and Minnesota playing musical chairs for the top three spots — Denver is still clearly the favorite in the conference, and the League.

Jokic this season ranks ninth in points per game, fourth in rebounds per game and third in assists per game. He does everything on offense and has turned into a decent defender.

A win would put Jokic in some rare air.

Only eight players have won at least three MVPs and they’re eight of the 12-13 best players of all time:

Bill Russell
Wilt Chamberlain
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar
Moses Malone
Larry Bird
Magic Johnson
Michael Jordan
LeBron James

Jokic the last handful of seasons has been beating down the door to get into the same room as those guys and a few other players. He’s just about got it off the hinges.

Three MVPs and a second straight Finals win and Finals MVP would put the Serbian center in the mix. And I think he’s going to do it.

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