Nuggets' Jokic wins 2020-21 NBA MVP award

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Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic was named the NBA MVP for the 2020-21 season and becomes the first player in franchise history to win the Maurice Podoloff trophy.

Voting was conducted from a global panel of 100 sports journalists, broadcasters, and the NBA provided fans an opportunity to vote for the 12th consecutive season for a total of 101 ballots. Independent accounting firm Ernst & Young LLP tabulated the results, and complete ballots for each voter will be posted at after the announcement of all end-of-season awards.

Players received 10 points for each first-place vote, seven points for each second-place vote, five points for each third-place vote, three points for each fourth-place vote and one point for each fifth-place vote.

Jokic received 91 first-place votes for a total of 971 points and is the first center since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000 to win the award.

“I’m so happy and respect so much the hard work and dedication that he’s put in to reach this point,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said in a statement. “I’ve been lucky enough to coach Nikola his entire career, and to see his growth from a second-round pick trying to learn the NBA to a perennial All-Star and now the MVP is truly extraordinary. He deserves this honor, and I don’t take for granted getting to coach a player, and more importantly a person, like Nikola.”

Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid finished as the runner-up with 586 points, and Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry finished in third place with 453 points. Milwaukee Bucks forward Antetokounmpo took fourth place with 348 points, and Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul finished in fifth place with 139 points.

Jokic was one of just 11 players to play in all 72 regular-season games this pandemic-shortened season, making him the first MVP to play in every game since Kobe Bryant won in 2008.

The three-time All-Star achieved career-best averages of 26.4 points and 8.3 assists and matched a career-high 10.8 rebounds per game due to his performance and consistency throughout the season.

“What an amazing accomplishment for an amazing individual. Nikola has worked tirelessly to become the player that he is and we are unbelievably lucky to have him leading our franchise,” Nuggets president of basketball operations Tim Connelly said in a statement. “He is an elite individual on and off the court who is surrounded by a loving and supportive family that have helped make this day possible.”

Jokic, 26, was a second-round pick selected 41st overall by Denver in the 2014 NBA Draft and has played all six of his NBA seasons with the Nuggets, averaging 18.5 points, 9.8 rebounds and 6.0 assists in 453 career games.