Denver Nuggets’ center player Nikola Jokic has been named NBA’s Most Valuable Player for 2021. 

The basketball player received 91 first-place votes and earned 971 total points from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters. The 26-year old also ranked first in fan votes for the title. 

Photo from NBA’s Official Website

Jokic is the first player from the Nuggets to receive the MVP award. He is also the first Serbian player to be selected for the honor.

He now joins fellow NBA players Dirk Nowitzki (Germany) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece) as MVP winners who hail from Europe. 

Other players who were in the running for the 2020-2021 season MVP Award include Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid who finished in second place, Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry in third place, Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo in fourth place, and Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul in fifth place.

In his sixth and current season, Jokic displayed a significant improvement in his game, averaging a career-high 26.4 points, 10.9 rebounds, a career-high 8.4 assists, and 1.32 steals in 34.8 minutes.  

He’s the third player in the history of the NBA to average at least 26.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 8.0 assists in a season, which places him alongside legendary players Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook.

Jokic entered the NBA League in 2014 after being drafted by the Denver Nuggets as the 41st all-over all pick of the season. Since his draft, he’s been with the team throughout his NBA career. 

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Image credit: Matthew Stockman via Getty Images