Now, by overwhelming consensus, Denver Nuggets Center Nikola Jokic Is No. 1. The Nuggets’ big man was revealed Tuesday as the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for 2020-21, therefore making him by far the lowest draft pick ever to win the award. He also became the first true center to be named MVP since Shaquille O’Neal in 2000.
Jokic has now gotten his name written alongside the greatest players in league history, which surely seemed unlikely when he was that unheralded prospect out of Sombor, Serbia in 2014.
“To be honest, I didn’t even think I would be in the NBA,” Jokic said. “My goal when I started to play basketball back home, it was playing in EuroLeague because that was kind of the closest top league to my country.”
However, Jokic was the runaway winner, getting 91 of the 101 first-place ballots cast, 100 of them from a global panel of sportswriters and broadcasters who cover the league, the other being an aggregate first-place ballot compiled from fan voting.
That fan vote was the outlier: It went to 2011 NBA MVP Derrick Rose of the New York Knicks, the only vote Rose got.
Following him was Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid, who was second, Golden State’s Stephen Curry was third, 2019 and 2020 MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee was fourth and Phoenix’s Chris Paul was fifth.