Jokic is one of the most unique players of all time, and he certainly had another remarkable season.
The Serbia native averaged 27.1 points on 58.3 percent shooting, 13.8 rebounds, and 7.9 assists this season and carried the under-manned Nuggets, who were without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., to a solid 48-34 record and a playoff appearance.
This has been the fourth consecutive season in which Jokic has averaged at least 7.0 assists per game, which is pretty much uncharted territory for NBA centers.
What he has done this season and in recent seasons must be celebrated and appreciated.
But with all due respect to Jokic, he didn’t deserve to win this season’s MVP award.
Does Jokic Truly Make The Impact An MVP Should?
It’s hard to accurately measure Jokic’s impact, given that the Nuggets were very shorthanded this season and weren’t able to give Jokic the type of support that an elite team can.
If the Nuggets were fully healthy this season, perhaps they could’ve challenged for the Western Conference crown, but even that is questionable, especially given the excellence of the Phoenix Suns and Golden State Warriors.
Offensively and on the boards, Jokic is a monster, thanks to his many skills.
But there is a relative weakness in his game: defense.
To be fair, Jokic is not a bad defender, and he actually led the NBA in defensive box plus/minus with 4.5.
But advanced stats and analytics can tell lies or be misleading, and Jokic just isn’t a truly elite defender.
He averaged just 0.9 blocked shots this season and hasn’t been named to the All-Defensive team yet.
According to the good old eye test, Jokic doesn’t seem to impact the game defensive the way that a few other MVP contenders do.
Another indictment of his defense is the fact that the Nuggets haven’t been an elite defensive team under his watch.
In the last three seasons, they have ranked just 16th, 12th, and 15th in defensive rating, which is rather mediocre.
Granted, defense is a team thing, but as Denver’s starting center, the team’s defense reflects more on Jokic than on anyone else.
Who Was Most Deserving Of The MVP, Then?
In this writer’s view, Milwaukee Bucks superstar Giannis Antetokounmpo should’ve been named this season’s MVP.
He is just about Jokic’s equal as a scorer and rebounder (he put up 29.9 points and 11.6 rebounds per game this year), and even if he falls a bit short of Jokic in terms of passing (he averaged 5.8 assists a game), his defense seems head-and-shoulders above that of the Nuggets’ franchise player.
Antetokounmpo was the NBA’s Defensive Player of the Year just two years ago, and he has been named to the All-Defensive team in four of the last five campaigns.
Case in point: his game-winning blocked shot on another prime MVP candidate, Joel Embiid, during an epic battle between the Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers in March.
Giannis with the game-sealing block on Embiid 😱
Refs originally called goaltending… pic.twitter.com/cbteRDvjD0
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) March 30, 2022
Plus, who could forget Antetokounmpo’s clutch blocked shot in last year’s NBA Finals?
Giannis had one of the greatest blocks in NBA Finals history last night, spectacular in the moment of Game 4 and second in magnitude behind only LeBron's Game 7 Block. It was an extraordinary play, and here's a quick breakdown of how Giannis made it happen: pic.twitter.com/itNqgwLf5C
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) July 15, 2021
With apologies to Jokic, who is certainly a phenomenal player in his own right, Antetokounmpo is the best player in the world right now.