Despite back-to-back MVPs, ESPN names Nikola Jokic No. 2 NBA player

Sigh.

Nikola Jokic was named the best NBA player in the world the last two years, winning back-to-back MVP awards. Apparently, that’s not good enough for ESPN. The “worldwide leader” released its top-5 NBA rankings on Friday, and Jokic is not No. 1. The Nuggets center finished second, trailing Giannis Antetokounmpo of the Milwaukee Bucks.

Despite the fact that Jokic should be ranked at the top, there are some good things here. First, he moved up four spots, from No. 6 a year ago. Second, he’s ahead of Joel Embiid. That’s critical, considering the national media loves to put Embiid ahead of Jokic, even though “The Joker” is clearly a better player.

And let’s be honest, Antetokounmpo is unreal. He also has two MVPs and is a scary, scary player. If Jokic was going to trail anyone, “The Greek Freak” is a worthy man. Here’s part of what ESPN had to say about Jokic and why he checked in at No. 2 on the list:

How did Jokic follow up an MVP season? He got better. Jokic became just the 13th player in NBA history to win back-to-back MVP awards and did so with a historic campaign. He’s the first player to average 25 points, 13 rebounds and 7 assists in a season and the first to lead his team in points, rebounds, assists, steals, blocks and field goal percentage.

The article goes on to mention Jokic led the Nuggets to one more win than the previous year, despite playing without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. – that’s just how special he is.

ESPN’s full top-100 was released over the last several days, and the Nuggets have four players on the list. Aaron Gordon is No. 83, Porter is No. 72 and Murray checked in at No. 50. That’s pretty darn good for two guys who played a combined nine games in Porter and Murray a season ago. Gordon is a great defender, who’s still evolving on offense.

What’s it all mean for Jokic and Denver? It’s go time. And with health finally on the Nuggets side, anything short of a deep playoff run will be wildly disappointing.

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