Who Should be the 2022 NBA MVP?

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This season’s MVP race has been closer than ever. Throughout the season the MVP ladder has had Nikola Jokic, Joel Embiid, and Giannis Antetokoumpo near or at the top. All three have elevated their teams and have performed phenomenally in the regular season and led their teams into strong playoff performances so far. Devin Booker, Luka Doncic, and Jayson Tatum have also earned their spots on the ladder through incredible performances this year. They also have had outstanding playoff performances so far, especially Tatum who led the Celtics to sweep the Nets. However, all the focus is on Jokic, Embiid, and Giannis since they have been announced to be the MVP finalists.

Jokic, the No. 1 ranked MVP contender and last year’s MVP has had a great season and even improved since last year. Jokic is an unstoppable force on offense. His strength and finishing ability are incredible and he is a force to be reckoned with in the paint. Jokic is able to shoot effectively from midrange, especially through his Sombor Shuffle, making him an effective offensive player in all aspects. Jokic’s scoring ability is not the only reason he earned his spot as a top 3 MVP contender. Jokic was an incredible passer in his MVP season and has continued to be this season, averaging 7.9 assists per game. Not only has his offensive game continued to be strong, but his improved scoring ability also makes teams have to deal with him, often happening to double him, which is where his passing game comes in. Jokic has increased his points per game from 26.4 in his MVP season to 27.1 ppg, in addition to 13.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists.

His stats speak for themselves, but the fact that Jokic’s stats have never been hit by any player in the NBA makes his ranking as the top MVP contender undisputable. Although Jokic’s stats make him seem like the perfect all-around player, some say his defense last year, in his MVP season, was lacking. His defense and athleticism are inferior to that of Giannis and Embiid, however, his defense has improved.

Despite a lack of strength and athleticism in his defensive game, he makes up for that through his awareness. He is able to make big defensive plays early with his awareness, and he uses his defensive IQ to get steals and blocks in big moments on defense, having three game-saving blocks in the regular season. He is undoubtedly the best offensive player in the NBA right now, and the improvements he has made this season definitely earn him his spot and the ladder and possibly the MVP. Jokic stats speak for themselves, however, stats are not everything in the MVP race.

Giannis and Embiid have led phenomenal seasons, been very impactful, and have had great stats throughout the season, but another thing that sets Jokic apart is his roster. The talent on the Nuggets’ roster is far less than that of the Bucks or the 76ers. Embiid has James Harden, Tobias Harris, Tyrese Maxey, Giannis has Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday, which are all in the top 75 in the NBA for scoring, meanwhile the only other player on the Nuggets’ roster, other than Jokic, is Aaron Gordon. The impact Jokic has on the Nuggets is also seen through their record in the 8 games that Jokic was out this season, which was 2-6. Without Jokic, the Nuggets only managed to beat the Rockets and the Pacers. The Rockets have the worst record in the NBA and the Pacers have the 5th worst. The Jokic-less Nuggets lost to teams whose record was far worse than their own such as the Trailblazers with a record of 27-55 and the Lakers with a record of 33-49, and, without Jokic, the Nuggets were not able to defeat a single team that made it to the playoffs. The Nuggets are far worse without the Joker than the Bucks are without Giannis and 76er are without Embiid. The Bucks without Giannis went 6-9 this season, beating two playoff teams, the Heat, currently the highest-ranked team in the East, and the Raptors, the 5th seed in the East. The 76ers went 6-8 without Joel Embiid and beat the Heat and the Grizzlies, the 2 seed in the West.

The fact that the Sixers and the Bucks were able to beat playoff teams without their star players, while the Nuggets were barely able to beat some of the worst teams in the league without Jokic shows how the Joker has much more of an impact than Giannis or Embiid, who have more talented players on their respective rosters than Jokic. If Giannis and Embiid are removed from their teams, both the Bucks and 76ers would be way more talented than a Jokic-less Nuggets, yet the Nuggets are 48-34, just slightly lower than the Bucks and 76ers at 51-31, therefore Jokic is more impactful to his team.

Jokic is statistically the most valuable player and best offensive player this season and his team has much less talent than the teams of other MVP candidates. Because of his impact on the Nuggets through carrying them to playoffs, his offensive talent and defensive improvement, and his scoring numbers close to and even greater than the MVP seasons of NBA legends like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Tim Duncan, Dirk Nowitzki, Moses Malone, and Wilt Chamberlain, Nikola Jokic deserves to win MVP for the 2021-2022 season.

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