Nuggets star Nikola Jokić wins third NBA MVP in four seasons, placing him alongside all-time greats

Nikola Jokić beat Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Mavericks star Luka Dončić to win this season's MVP award

Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokić was named NBA MVP for a third time in four seasons Wednesday, further cementing his status among basketball's all-time greats.

The NBA announced Jokić as the winner over Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Dončić, who were both finalists.

With the win, Jokić becomes the ninth player in NBA history to win three or more MVP awards, joining a who's who of the game's elite players. Bill Russell, Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Moses Malone, Larry Bird, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James are the other three-time winners.

This season marked the fourth straight in which Jokić was a finalist for the award. He finished second to Joel Embiid in 2023 and then won Finals MVP while leading the Nuggets to their first NBA championship last season.

Jokić followed that landmark campaign with another confirming his status as basketball's best player. In 79 regular-season games, he averaged 26.4 points, 12.4 rebounds, nine assists, 1.4 steals and 0.9 blocks.

He shot 58.3% from the field and 35.9% on 2.9 3-point attempts per game, earning his sixth consecutive All-Star bid in the process. He did so while leading the Nuggets to a 57-25 record, tied with the Oklahoma City Thunder for best in the Western Conference, and earning a No. 2 seed in the playoffs.

A 6-foot-11 center, Jokić is Denver's top post player and primary offensive facilitator. He consistently presents matchup problems that opposing All-Stars struggle to counter.

Jokić led the Nuggets in points, rebounds and assists and finished in the top 10 in the NBA in each category this season. He led the league in Basketball Reference's win shares (17) for a fourth straight season, beating Gilgeous-Alexander (14.6) and two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo (13.2).

Jokić also led the league in player efficiency rating, a measure that approximates a player's per-minute productivity by quantifying all of his statistical accomplishments, positive and negative. Jokić has led the league in PER for four straight seasons and is now the NBA's all-time leader in the category. Michael Jordan and LeBron James are second and third on the all-time list.

Jokić's dominance has hit a roadblock in the postseason, with the Minnesota Timberwolves putting his quest for a second straight Finals MVP in jeopardy. The Nuggets beat the Los Angeles Lakers 4-1 in the first round but now face an 0-2 deficit against the Timberwolves after losing the first two games of their Western Conference semifinals series at home.

In order to keep their quest for a repeat title alive, the Nuggets will need an MVP-like performance from Jokić when the series shifts to Minnesota for Game 3 on Friday.