Los Angeles, June 9: Nikola Jokic is the NBA MVP for 2020-21 after earning 91 first-place votes and 971 total points.
Jokic had previously been confirmed as a finalist alongside Philadelphia 76ers big man Joel Embiid and Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry but was long considered the clear favourite.
During a season in which a number of other superstars faced stretches on the sidelines with injuries, Jokic started all 72 games for the Denver Nuggets.
Embiid sustained a knee injury in March and Los Angeles Lakers great LeBron James went down with a high ankle sprain just eight days later.
Fitness issues robbed Brooklyn Nets guard James Harden of an unlikely run, too, while Curry saw off a tailbone concern but could only lift the Warriors to ninth in the west, as they lost consecutive play-in games to the Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies.
Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić is the recipient of the Maurice Podoloff Trophy as the 2020-21 Kia NBA Most Valuable Player. pic.twitter.com/KCskaEotGR— NBA Communications (@NBAPR) June 8, 2021
The Nuggets finished third and have since advanced to the Western Conference semi-finals, although they trail the Phoenix Suns after Game 1.
In the regular season, Jokic averaged 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds and 8.3 assists per game – the combined total of 45.5 leading the NBA alongside triple-double king Russell Westbrook.
The Denver center shot 56.6 per cent from the field, 38.8 per cent from beyond the arc and 86.8 per cent from the free-throw line. No player to attempt 30 or more field goals across a season in NBA history has topped Jokic in all three metrics.
Jokic – the first MVP from Serbia – had only once previously scored more than 20 points per game in a campaign since he was selected 41st overall in the 2014 NBA Draft.
Behind the Serbian, Embiid came second with 586 points, as Curry received 453 points.