NBA MVP Power Rankings Week 2: A new No. 1 emerges

As the NBA season kicks into high gear, we have a new early No. 1 in the MVP race.
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets / Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports
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. Nikola Jokic. player. 73. Center | Nuggets. Previous Rank — 2. 1. 1. . Nikola Jokic

The Denver Nuggets are 7-1 despite a brutal early-season schedule. A potentially extended absence for Jamal Murray looms, but it's clear Denver is right back on top of the NBA power hierarchy. The primary reason is, of course, the best player in the world. There isn't anybody doing what Nikola Jokic is doing right now.

The surface-level stats pop, per usual — 28.4 points, 12.9 rebounds, 8.4 assists on .633/.387/.744 — but Jokic's impact stretches far beyond the box score. He is once again a favorite of catch-all metrics, ranking first in win shares per 48 minutes (.344), box plus-minus (13.5), and VORP (1.1). There is also simple on-court evidence. He's unstoppable, perfectly balancing his individual dominance with a desire to elevate teammates.

Jokic might actually be the best scorer in the NBA, with all due respect to Embiid, Doncic, Tatum, and the like. Jokic's ability to plow through smaller defenders and tip-toe around slower fives is a sight to behold. He plays elite, fundamental basketball, with balletic footwork and feather-soft touch one would more commonly associate with an elite guard finisher. Jokic can shoot over the top with a one-legged fade, use his shoulders to carve out space in the paint, or pop out to the 3-point line and produce at a hearty volume.

He's impossible to defend one-on-one due to his size, strength, and skill combination, but he's also the best in the world at picking apart defenses that commit too much help. Jokic faces a constant stream of double teams, but leave even the slightest sliver of a passing lane open, and he will drill his teammate right in the shooting pocket. Denver has mastered the art of cutting and off-ball movement around Jokic, while his two-man game with Murray might be the most refined set of actions in the NBA.

Jokic is the sun around which the NBA's best offense orbits. He's not a great defender, sure, but he's not bad either. He's back in the saddle at No. 1, no matter how eager we are to crown a new MVP. There's a long season ahead, but don't be shocked if Jokic parades all the way to his third trophy.


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