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Jokic joins elite company with third NBA MVP award

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Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic was named the 2023-24 NBA Most Valuable Player, earning his third MVP in four years. The award places him in elite company alongside only eight other players in league history who have won the award three times: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Bill Russell, Michael Jordan, LeBron James, Wilt Chamberlain, Magic Johnson, Larry Bird and Moses Malone.

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Jokic averaged 26.4 points, 9.0 assists and 12.4 rebounds per game in the 2023-24 season. The 29-year-old finished among the NBA's top five overall in these three categories, becoming the first player to do so since Chamberlain in the 1960s. Jokic also finished in the top 10 in steals.

Given the numbers above, it's no surprise that Jokic also led the league in Box Plus/Minus (BPM), an all-in-one player metric based solely on box score statistics. The NBA leader in BPM has won MVP in 13 of the last 16 seasons, with Joel Embiid's win over Jokic last year being one of the few exceptions. That's a change from earlier times in NBA history, when this advanced statistic would have predicted fewer than half of MVP winners.

Denver outscored its opponents by 12.6 points per 100 possessions this season with Jokic in the game, but was ahead by 11.1 points per 100 possessions with Jokic on the bench. This difference of 23.7 is the largest for any player who has played at least 1,000 minutes, according to Cleaning the Glass. Jokic has led the league in this regard in each of the last three seasons.

The Serbian's third win means the last six MVPs have gone to international players, up from just four in NBA history before 2018. This year, the three finalists were all born outside the United States.

Jokic's Nuggets trail the Minnesota Timberwolves 2-0 in the second round after losing Games 1 and 2 at home. If they lose the series, it would be the fifth straight season in which the league's MVP failed to advance to the conference finals, having only done so five times in the previous 29 seasons.

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