Damian Lillard said that he believes that Nikola Jokic deserves to be the MVP for this season, noting that his health and excellent performance earned him the award over other competitors.
“I think when you really look at it, and you see that Jokic has played in every game and he’s dominated the way he has, they’ve had injuries with so many guys out and missed games and he’s kept them rolling,” Lillard told The Athletic’s Sam Amick. “He’s kept them where they are.”
Lillard said that Joel Embiid missed too much of the season to win the MVP, even though he was widely considered the favorite for the first half of the season.
Jokic has clearly established himself as the favorite for the award, as he has averaged 26.4 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 8.3 assists for the season while leading the Nuggets to the third seed in the Western Conference despite Jamal Murray tearing his ACL in April.
The Nuggets and Trail Blazers will face off in the first round of the playoffs and Lillard acknowledged that eliminating Jokic and Denver will not be an easy task for Portland.
“But yeah, I’m not going into the series worried about injuries or nothing,” Lillard said. “They’re still a great team. We’re going to have our hands full either way.”