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Nuggets HC: Nikola Jokić Shouldn't Be Penalized in MVP Race for Winning Last 2

Paul KasabianFeatured Columnist IIJanuary 2, 2023

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022, in Denver. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)
AP Photo/David Zalubowski

Denver Nuggets head coach Mike Malone offered his honest assessment of any NBA MVP voter who may not choose star center Nikola Jokić to avoid giving him the award for the third straight year.

Mike Singer @msinger

Michael Malone: If people's reason for not giving Nikola a third MVP is because he's already won two in a row, "that's lazy."

A player winning three straight MVP awards would not be unprecedented in NBA history. Bill Russell (1961-1963), Wilt Chamberlain (1966-1968) and Larry Bird (1984-1986) all accomplished the feat.

Jokić could be next. Per Basketball Reference, the big man leads the NBA in win shares per 48 minutes (.302) and box plus/minus (12.1). He's second in player efficiency rating (31.9) behind Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Dončić (32.5).

Most importantly, Jokić spearheads a 24-12 Nuggets team that currently leads the Western Conference. Denver is also on fire of late with a 10-2 record in its last 12 games. Nine of the team's next 11 games are also at home, where the Nuggets have gone 14-3.

If the Nuggets continue their midseason roll, then the clamors for Jokić winning his third straight MVP should only get louder.

However, Jokić has plenty of competition, including Dončić, Boston Celtics forward Jayson Tatum, Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid.

But Jokić excelled against one of those players and teams on Sunday hours after Malone made his remarks.

The 27-year-old Serbian strengthened his MVP case with 30 points, 12 rebounds and 12 assists in a 123-111 win against Tatum and the Celtics, who sport the NBA's best record at 26-11.