For the defending National Basketball Association (NBA) champion Denver Nuggets, Nikola Jokic hasn’t changed. The NBA’s “guard-like center” recorded a triple-double in the opening game as he looks to reclaim the Most Valuable Player (MVP) crown from Joel Embiid and win his second straight league title. Just as 카지노사이트 LeBron James reigned as the league’s best player for two years in a row after missing out on the MVP honor for three consecutive years, Jokic has taken the first steps to follow suit.
The Nuggets earned their first win of the season on Friday, defeating the Los Angeles Lakers 119-107 in the opening game at the Mile High City’s Ball Arena in Denver, Colorado. It wasn’t a difficult victory, with the lead reaching 12 points. Jokic was on fire. In game one, Jokic recorded a triple-double with 29 points, 13 rebounds, and 11 assists. Jokic also knocked down three 3-pointers and wreaked havoc on the Lakers’ defense. Jermaine Murray added 21 points and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope chipped in with 20 points.
James, in his 21st season, had a solid game with 21 points but couldn’t keep Denver at bay. The Lakers, who went 0-4 in the conference finals last season, got off to a dismal start to the season as they were swept by Denver from the opening tip.
This is a great start for Jokic, who is once again on his way to MVP honors. After winning the MVP in 2020-2021 and 2021-22, Jokic lost the title to Embiid last season. The bar for a third consecutive MVP is high. Only Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, and Larry Bird have ever won three consecutive MVPs.
James was up for the challenge. The MVP of the 2008-2009 and 2009-2010 seasons, James finished just short of MVP honors for the third straight season. In those years, James averaged 26.7 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 7.0 assists per game. However, the MVP honors went to Derrick Rose of the Chicago Bulls. Rose amassed 25.0 points, 3.4 rebounds, and 7.7 assists on the season. Rose outperformed James by 0.7 assists per game, 0.02 percentage points in field goal percentage, and 9.9 percentage points in free throw percentage. The only reason James didn’t win MVP for the third year in a row was because of his team’s performance: Chicago was 62-20 and in first place in the Eastern Conference, while the Cleveland Cavaliers relied solely on James, and the team was 19-63 and in last place in the Eastern Conference.
But the Nuggets were different. Last season, Denver finished first in the Western Conference with a 53-29 record, while Philadelphia finished third in the Eastern Conference with a 54-28 record. Jokic wasn’t lacking in individual production either. Jokic averaged 24.5 points, 11.8 rebounds, and 9.8 assists last season. However, he lacked the “impact” to win the MVP award for the third year in a row, as he was 0.2 assists shy of averaging a triple-double. That honor went to Embiid, who averaged 33.1 points, 10.2 rebounds, and 4.2 assists. Embiid dominated Jokic in scoring average, and Philadelphia won more games than Denver. Add to that the fact that he was the first non-American player in NBA history to lead the league in scoring.