Tuesday saw Nuggets superstar Nikola Jokic win the NBA MVP after averaging 26 points, 11 rebounds, and 8 assists while guiding the Nuggets to the 3rd seed in the west. Fellow big man Joel Embiid was Jokic’s closest competition in the MVP race. Sixers coach Doc Rivers praised Jokic for his play this year in what he called a “two-man race” between the Nuggets’ center and Embiid.
Embiid posed the only competition in the way of Jokic’s MVP hopes as he racked up an impressive 62 second-place votes. This came after he averaged 28 and 10 on the season. Not to mention that he simultaneously guided the Sixers to the 1st seed in the east. However, Jokic had an astounding 91 first-place votes. For reference, Embiid only received 1.
Steph Curry had the second-most first-place votes, and even then, the Warriors star only had 5. This makes Jokic’s voting numbers all more impressive.
Rivers was quick to point out that the amount of games played most likely played a major part in the voters’ thinking.
“I do think probably the deciding factor was games played. I think that that helped, for sure, but even if they both played a lot of games, it still would have been a very difficult choice.”Doc Rivers
Embiid is notorious for his unfortunate injury history and played only 51 games in the 72-game adjusted season. On the other hand, Jokic featured in all 72 of the Nuggets’ regular-season games this year.
Both of the big men look to guide their respective teams to the finals this season after impressive regular seasons. Both the Nuggets and 76ers have very realistic shots at a title in the current playoff picture. Currently, the Nuggets are looking to bounce back after going down 1-0 in a tightly contested series with the Suns. In the east, the Sixers find themselves in a 1-1 series against Trae Young and the Atlanta Hawks.