the imminent news that Nikola Jokić will receive his second consecutive MVP award has sent the NBA community into a border war formation between respect for analysis and eye testing. Jokic’s consecutive wins it’s a resounding victory for the NBA’s math athlete contingency. This is not a tirade against the existence of advanced analytics, just against its overuse. I’m also not saying he doesn’t have a place in basketball analysis or that Jokic isn’t a key player of MVP caliber.
Jokić’s counting statistics are almost identical to his averages from the 2020-2021 MVP season. Last season, Jokić posted averages of 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, 8.3 assists per game. In 2021-22, he posted 27.1 points, 13.8 rebounds and 7.9 assists on 58.8 percent shooting. And now Jokic will be recorded in the official history of the NBA since only the 13 player to win back-to-back MVPs, but the timing couldn’t be worse. His win over Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid comes as Embiid has turned the tide of Philadelphia’s series against the No. 1 seed in the East.
Jokić won the MVP over Embiid for the second year in a row, even as his partner spent most of his season struggling while his star tag team partner was shelved. In the absence of Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray, the Nuggets finished sixth in the Western Conference and their .585 winning percentage is the sixth-worst in league history for an MVP. Jokić led the NBA in winning percentage, winning percentage per 48 minutes, Defensive Box Plus/Minus, narrowly surpassing Giannis Antetokounmpo for NBA leadership in Player Efficiency Rating, he finished in the top four in assist percentage and VORP.
VORP was one of the most popular advanced stats exposed in the 2022 MVP debate. VORP measures “one boxEstimated scoring of points per 100 team possessions a player contributed over a replacement-level player translated to an average team and prorated to an 82-game season. Michael Jordan and LeBron James own seven of the highest VORP seasons since the 1973-74 season. Jokic’s VORP of 9.87 is the 14th-highest in NBA history.
Jokić led the league in VORP by a chasm that would lead you to believe Antetokounmpo, who finished second, was his subordinate. If voters got their heads out of the sand long enough, they would have realized that Antetokounmpo leveled up down the stretch and staked out the best basketball player on the planet, while Jokic was barely enough to take Denver to the postseason.
Jokić was overtaken in the twilight of the season by one of his MVP candidates. In February, March and April, when MVPs are really won, Jokic’s game tanked and Denver almost slumped in the P.placement teetournament while Antetokounmpo leveled up and Embiid raised. However, Antetokounmpo, the previous player to win back-to-back MVPs, never became a serious contender. Meanwhile, Jokić led Embiid in an opinion poll between February 17 and March 29. even though Embiid played neck-and-neck, if not better than Jokić in specific metrics during that stretch. Jokić’s supporters claim that he He played with a lesser supporting cast, but in the first half of the season, Embiid kept the Sixers afloat with Tyrese Maxey and Seth Curry.
Embiid’s advanced defensive acumen didn’t weigh in this run, either. based on RAPTOR Defensive Stat by FiveThirtyEightJokić had a bigger impact on the defensive end this season than Utah’s Rudy Governor. Alternatively, Real-Plus ESPN’s Least Defensive considers Gobert the best defender in the NBA, Jokić ranks 6th, Embiid 15th, and Antetokounmpo 98th. Once the NBA’s flawed defensive stats created a narrative that Jokic was a defender on par with Gobert and Embiid , the race for the 2022 MVP was broken. The MVP Trophy has always been a regular event.award of the season, but it has meaning for the NBA community. The framework of Jokić’s case for NBA MVP has legitimacy, but the stat-laden narrative was soulless. That is a parody for him and the award.