For the second season in a row, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is the NBA MVP, a person confirmed to USA TODAY Sports.
The person requested anonymity because they were not authorized to speak publicly about the award until it was officially announced.
Jokic edged Joel Embiid of Philadelphia and Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee for the award. Based on the voters who made their ballot public, it began to become clear that Jokic was headed for his second MVP honor.
An official announcement is expected later this week. Although the results were not released, a tight competition was expected between the three players.
There will be hand twists on this season’s winner. There is a contingent of voters and fans who believe Embiid should have been awarded their first MVP this season. And there are good reasons for Antetokounmpo to win his third MVP. But Embiid and the Sixers have been the most vocal on his case.
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The Nuggets were 48-34 and ranked sixth in the West, but played most of the season without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr., and Jokic still led them to 48 wins.
Jokic averaged 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists while shooting 58.3 percent from the field. The Nuggets have been terrific offensively with Jokic on the court scoring 117.3 points per 100 possessions and steady defensively allowing 108.9 points per 100 possessions. Jokic also posted the highest player efficiency rating — a measure of a player’s positive and negative contributions — in league history at 32.85, according to basketball-reference.com.
The Sixers were 51-31, played a season in turmoil with the Ben Simmons situation, and Embiid averaged a league-best 30.6 points, 11.7 rebounds, 4.2 assists , 1.5 blocks and 1.1 interceptions while shooting 49.9% from the field and 37.7% on 3-pointers. The Sixers scored 115.6 points and allowed 107.8 points per 100 possessions with Embiid on the court, and his PER was 31.2.
The Bucks were also 51-31 and Antetokounmpo averaged 29.9 points, 11.6 rebounds, 5.8 assists, 1.4 blocks and 1.1 steals while shooting 55.3% from the field. . The Bucks scored 115.9 points and allowed 107.9 points per 100 possessions with Antetokounmpo on the court, and his PER was 32.1.
ESPN broke the news for the first time.