Inside The Nba Mvp Race: Jokic's Consistency Was Key, And No. 1 Picks Were Denied The Trophy Again

Dallas Mavericks' Luka Doncic, left, congratulates teammate Kyrie Irving as Irving speaks to the media after beating the Los Angeles Clippers 114-101 in Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Friday, May 3, 2024, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)
Dallas Mavericks' Luka Doncic, left, congratulates teammate Kyrie Irving as Irving speaks to the media after beating the Los Angeles Clippers 114-101 in Game 6 of an NBA basketball first-round playoff series Friday, May 3, 2024, in Dallas. (AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter)
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A look at some notes and numbers surrounding the NBA's MVP race this season:



Denver's Nikola Jokic was the only player in the league to rank among the top 10 in points (10th), rebounds (4th) and assists (3rd) per game this season, which surely went a long way toward voters giving him the MVP award for the third time in four years.

There were only three other players who ranked among top 10 in two of those categories.

Dallas' Luka Doncic won the scoring title and was second in assists per game. Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo was second in points and sixth in rebounds per game, and Sacramento's Domantas Sabonis led the league in rebounds per game while ranking sixth in assists per contest.


There's a reasonable chance that Victor Wembanyama — the No. 1 pick in last year's draft by San Antonio, along with the rookie of the year winner and runner-up to Minnesota's Rudy Gobert for defensive player of the year this season — wins the MVP award one day.

But Nikola Jokic's win this year extended an unusual streak.

For the 11th straight year, the MVP award was claimed by someone who wasn't a No. 1 overall draft pick. That's the longest such run in NBA history; the last No. 1 to win was LeBron James, then of Miami, in 2013.


Nikola Jokic is the fifth player in NBA history to finish first or second in the MVP balloting in at least four consecutive seasons. He won the award in 2021, 2022 and this year, and was second to Philadelphia's Joel Embiid in 2023.

Boston Celtics greats Bill Russell and Larry Bird each were first or second in the balloting in six consecutive seasons. Russell won in 1958, 1961, 1962 and 1963, while finishing second in 1959 and 1960; Bird was second in 1981, 1982 and 1983 before winning in 1984, 1985 and 1986.

Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1971-74) and Tim Duncan (2001-04) are the other players with four straight top-two finishes.


Dallas’ Luka Doncic averaged 33.9 points, 9.2 rebounds and 9.8 assists per game this season. There had never been a season in NBA history in which someone finished with all those averages.

And he still didn’t win MVP.

There were 14 previous instances of someone averaging at least 33 points and nine rebounds; those stats were enough to MVP five times (Joel Embiid in 2023, Bob McAdoo in 1975, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1972, Wilt Chamberlain in 1960 and 1966).

Of course, it should be noted that Chamberlain had some years when he was even more dominant and didn’t win MVP — including five consecutive seasons in which he averaged at least 34 points and 22 rebounds but didn't get the trophy in any of them. Elgin Baylor averaged at least 34 points and 14 rebounds in three seasons when he wasn’t MVP, and Rick Barry had a 35.6-point, 9.2-rebound year that didn’t get him the award, either.

Before Doncic this year, there was just one season in which a player averaged at least 33 points and nine assists. That was 1972-73 when Tiny Archibald averaged 34 points and 11.4 assists for Kansas City. He was third in the MVP voting that season.


Nikola Jokic’s win means a player who is listed at 6-foot-10 or taller — Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2019 and 2020, Jokic in 2021, 2022 and now 2024, and Joel Embiid in 2023 — has won the MVP award in six consecutive seasons.

That’s a first for the NBA. But that doesn’t mean this is the first dominant stretch for big men. Far from it.

There was a 16-year stretch from 1964-65 through 1979-80 when players generally considered to be centers or at least power forwards won the award each year. Not all were at least 6-10, but all were considered big men.

The last guard to win the MVP award was James Harden, then of Houston, in 2018.


Milwaukee's Giannis Antetokounmpo got one first-place vote. It mattered.

Antetokounmpo has now gotten at least one first-place MVP vote in six consecutive seasons, extending the longest such streak in the league.

It's the longest first-place-vote streak since LeBron James got a first-place vote in eight consecutive years from 2008 through 2015. That run ended when Golden State's Stephen Curry became the first — and still only — unanimous MVP in 2016.

Denver's Nikola Jokic has gotten a first-place vote in each of the last four years. Philadelphia's Joel Embiid had first-place votes in each of the previous three seasons but was ineligible for consideration this year because of the league's new rule mandating that players must appear in a certain number of games before getting onto the ballot.


LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers didn't get a vote in the MVP balloting this season. It's only the second time in his 21-year career that has happened; the other was last season, ending an unprecedented 19-year streak of getting at least one vote. (The panel of reporters and broadcasters who vote on awards rank their top five MVP choices on their ballots.)

He is the only player in NBA history to appear in the MVP results in 19 different seasons. When the All-NBA team is revealed later this month, James could make a 20th appearance, which would extend his record.

No other player has more than 15 All-NBA nods.


Here's a wrapup of all the NBA awards that have been announced to this point:

Most Valuable Player, Nikola Jokic, Denver.

Most Improved Player, Tyrese Maxey, Philadelphia.

Rookie of the Year, Victor Wembanyama, San Antonio.

Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert, Minnesota.

Sixth Man of the Year, Naz Reid, Minnesota.

Clutch Player of the Year, Stephen Curry, Golden State.

Coach of the Year, Mark Daigneault, Oklahoma City.

Twyman-Stokes Teammate of the Year, Mike Conley, Minnesota.

Executive of the Year, Brad Stevens, Boston.