By Emre Asikci
ISTANBUL (AA) – Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic has won the NBA Most Valuable Player (MVP) award, the NBA announced on Wednesday.
"With the first Kia NBA MVP Award of his career, Jokic becomes the first player to earn the honor as a member of the Nuggets," the NBA said in a statement.
“He is also the first player from Serbia to be selected as the NBA MVP and joins Dirk Nowitzki (Germany) and Giannis Antetokounmpo (Greece) as MVP winners from Europe.”
It added: "Jokic received 91 first-place votes and earned 971 total points from a global panel of 100 sportswriters and broadcasters as well as the Kia NBA Most Valuable Player Award fan vote, making for 101 ballots.”
Philadelphia 76ers center Joel Embiid (586 points) came in second place, followed by Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry (453 points) in third, Milwaukee Bucks forward Antetokounmpo (348 points) in fourth, and Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (139 points) in fifth place.
In his sixth season for the Nuggets, Jokic played all 72 games and averaged a career-high 26.4 points, 10.9 rebounds, a career-high 8.4 assists, and 1.32 steals in 34.8 minutes.
With his season averages, the Serbian center ranked 12th in the NBA in points, ninth in rebounds, sixth in assists, and 22nd in steals.
The 26-year-old is the third player in NBA history to average at least 26.0 points, 10.0 rebounds, and 8.0 assists in a season, joining the legendary Oscar Robertson and Russell Westbrook.
Jokic's Nuggets finished the regular season 47-25, good enough for the 3rd spot in the Western Conference.