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Nikola Jokic Could Be The 5th Of 66 MVPs To Get Eliminated In The First Round Of Their Respective Playoffs

Nikola Jokic Expected To Accept 5-Year, $254 Million Super-Max Extension In Offseason

The Denver Nuggets aren't in a pleasant position right now, as they trail the Golden State Warriors 2-0 in the first round of the 2022 NBA playoffs. The team was looking to at least get one win at Chase Center, but the Dubs look too strong in front of Nikola Jokic and co. 

It's well known that Denver didn't have the best roster this season due to injuries, and Jokic did as much as he could to take them to the playoffs. His performances this season could grant him the 2022 MVP award, making him the second back-to-back MVP winner after Giannis Antetokounmpo won two straight in 2019 and 2020. 

Even though that award is coveted by many players around the league, Nikola isn't that stunned about it. With this potential MVP, Jokic could suffer a big loss, which hasn't happened to many MVP winners in league history. Sam Amick of The Athletic writes that he could be the third MVP to go winless in the playoffs and the fifth to get eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. 

There are occasionally times in sports when the outcome is so extreme that the nuance simply doesn’t matter anymore. And if the Nuggets get swept, with Jokic (assuming he wins) thereby becoming just the third of 66 MVPs to go out without a playoff win and the fifth to lose in the first round, then no one will care about how he didn’t have Jamal Murray or Michael Porter Jr. alongside him. Infamy awaits, it seems, and it doesn’t look like there’s much he can do about it.

Somehow, someway, MVPs have typically managed to avoid the kind of early playoff defeat that leaves this kind of reputational mark. No matter how many times we remind the masses that it’s a regular-season award, there’s an inevitable and understandable discussion about whether the latest winner was truly worthy of the honor based on how the postseason turns out.

But in the interest of contextualizing the conversation that looks likely to come, I spent much of the second half diving into the Basketball-Reference.com annals to get a better sense of the situation here. The following is a breakdown of playoff finishes for all of the league’s 66 MVPs:

Won the championship: 23

Lost in The Finals: Nine

Lost in the conference/division finals: 20

Lost in the conference semifinals: Eight

Lost in the first round: Five

Didn’t make the playoffs: One

The Nuggets' supporting cast must step up if they want to overcome this bad moment. The Warriors look very solid right now, and nothing points out that will change. Besides Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green, they have found a gem in Jordan Poole, who has exceeded during the first two games of this series. 

The job looks incredibly hard for Denver, and this season could end with Jokic winning his second MVP award while unable to make a real impact on the postseason.