Is Nikola Jokic leading the way-too-early MVP race?

Nearly one month into the strangely-developing (and perhaps soon halting?) 2020-21 NBA season, and the Denver Nuggets’ center Nikola Jokic might be the frontrunner in the MVP race.

Nikola Jokic
Via Denver Nuggets on Facebook

Almost four weeks into this COVID-19 influenced season, the Denver Nuggets, like quite a lot of preseason would-be juggernauts, are struggling at 6-6 (outside the top 8 in the West, although with a play-in tournament, maybe it’s not that important). The offense is doing well (3rd in the league at 116.2 points per 100 possessions) but the defense is lagging (24th, giving up 112.8 points per 100 possessions).

Jokic, whether it’s fantasy basketball or just standard stats, is doing extremely well. He’s averaging a career high 24.2 points per game, along with 56.9% from the field, 36.8% from three (hitting 1.2 of them a game), 11.2 rebounds and an NBA-best 10.4 assists.

And when you dive into the advanced numbers, he’s ahead of the pack as well.

He leads the NBA in PER (30.6) in a season that so far has only two guards (Luka Doncic and Bradley Beal in the top 10; He’s 13th in True Shooting (65.7%); leads the NBA in win shares per 48 minutes (.296); in box plus/minus (10.7, well ahead of Nikola Vucevic); and in VORP (with 1.3); and all with only the 29th usage rating (27.7%) in the league.

It’s still early, and we’ve seen Jokic go into slumps through strong seasons before. The Nuggets have things to figure out if this season continues without some sort of beak. But Jokic might be making another stride in his remarkable career. Towards superstardom despite the market he’s in, and perhaps even becoming the first ever Nuggets player to win the regular season MVP.

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