5 stats that explain Nikola Jokic’s MVP 2021-22 season

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Nikola Jokic is the NBA’s 2021-22 regular season MVP, beating out both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid to capture his second most valuable player award. The 27-year old becomes just the fourteenth player to win multiple MVPs in a career.

Both Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. were sidelined with injuries all year long, and it was Jokic who was left to pick up the pieces. His herculean effort during the 21-22 season kept Denver out of the lottery and firmly in the in the West. Again and again Jokic kept the Nuggets afloat and at times thriving.

The highlight reel passes and heroic clutch performances only tell part of the story. Nikola Jokic’s 2021-22 regular season statistics help underscore how dominant his MVP run really was. Let’s explore some of the most telling stats from Jokic this year.

27.1 points per game

On any given night during the 21-22 season, Jokic was busy lighting up the scoreboard. His inside out game and unbelievable passing skills are a major reason for Denver’s unexpected success this season. The Joker had to do it all to keep the Nuggets in the mix, and he more than rose to the occasion.

Jokic ended the year averaging 27.1 points per game – a career best. Likewise, he grabbed 13.8 rebounds per game – also a career high and good for second in the NBA behind Rudy Gobert. Denver finished the season tenth in points scored and ninth in defensive rebounds.

As we’ll discuss, these weren’t empty calorie stats for a bad team. Instead, Jokic really was that dominant. In 21-22, he was one of the premier offensive weapons in the NBA while using his sides and instincts on the glass as well.

7.9 assists per game

Where Jokic differentiates himself from other high-volume scorers in the Association is his ability to pass. Usually operating at or around the nail, Jokic’s uses his unique vision and the natural gravity he creates on the floor to quarterback some really beautiful offense.

The Nuggets were third in assists per game and owned the sixth best offensive rating in the NBA. And Jokic’s 7.9 assists per game are a huge part of this story – good for the eighth best average in the NBA just behind Luka Doncic and ahead of LaMelo Ball.

Watching Denver play, it’s clear why Jokic is so valuable. Though his usage rate isn’t among the highest in the league, he is still the undisputed focal point of what that Nuggets do on offense. Reintegrating Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. should elevate Jokic’s assist numbers even further next season.

48 wins

A key – and contentious – element of Jokic’s MVP award is Denver’s regular season record. The Nuggets won 48 games in 21-22, winning a solid but not spectacular 58.5% of games.

By some measures, this is on the low side. NBA MVPs have historically come from the league’s top teams, and rarely from a club with a more pedestrian record. For some, this is a glaring issue. (Twice the MVP has been awarded to players on teams with losing records, however.)

For others, that Denver won as many games as it did is the real story. The Nuggets weren’t a powerhouse this season, but were unquestionably one of the toughest teams in the league all year long. Jokic deserves huge credit here, especially given the circumstances.

19 triple-doubles

Nikola Jokic logged 2004 regular season points, 1019 rebounds, and 584 assists during the 2021-22 campaign. He’s the first player in league history to reach these benchmarks collectively. Unsurprisingly, Jokic put up nineteen triple-doubles this year.

Importantly, it never felt as if Jokic was hunting triple-doubles or padding his stats. These were hard-earned and reflective of his impact on the game, rather than his ability to actively fill up a box score. He ended the regular season with the thirteenth most regular season triple-doubles in NBA history.

32.85 Player Efficiency Rating

Player efficiency rating is a common metric to try and quantify an individual’s overall impact. Like any statistic, it has its limitations, but PER is a good way to assess how dominant a player has been throughout a longer stretch of time. In 21-22, Joel Embiid posted the fourteenth best regular-season PER in NBA history. Giannis Antetokounmpo posted the third best.

In 2021-22, Nikola Jokic posted the highest regular season PER in Association history. His 32.85 PER puts him ahead of players like Wilt Chamberlain, LeBron James, and Michael Jordan. That he did so while his peers in the MVP race also had historic years only sweetens the deal.

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