Denver Nuggets

Nikola Jokic making strong early MVP case after breaking Nuggets' triple-double record

That's three triple-doubles in the first four games of the 2020-21 season for Nikola Jokic.

With his most recent one in Sacramento where he finished with 26 points, 12 assists, and 11 rebounds - the 44th triple-double of his career - the Serbian center passed Fat Lever for the most in Denver Nuggets franchise history and 9th on the league's all-time leaderboard.

Through four games, he's averaging stellar numbers of 24.5 points, 13.5 assists, and 11.8 rebounds. In fact, he's just been one rebound shy of recording a triple-double in all of the four games.

However, despite his spectacular start, Denver - last year's Conference Finalists - are only 1-3 in their first four games.

"We are not focused," Jokic said after the road loss in Sacramento. The Nuggets' lone win of the season came against a shorthanded Houston Rockets squad where Jokic dished out a career-high 18 assists.

Too small a sample size to react or a sign of how the Nuggets' season will unfold? Surely, it's got to be the former.

Of the three losses, the one on opening night against the Kings came off a tip-in at the buzzer in overtime. And in the return leg of that game, the Nuggets lost by 10 (125-115) in Sacramento with Jamal Murray not suiting up. Only the game on Christmas Day against the LA Clippers were the Nuggets thoroughly outplayed.

Their major issues - effort and defence - seem to be ones that can be fixed with more games. After four games, they rank 29th in defensive rating and allow the fourth-most points off turnovers (21.3). With time, the wins will come as the talented roster develops or regains its floor chemistry, but through their early struggles, Jokic is looking like the steady All-Star, who will deliver every game irrespective of the opponent and arena.

His impact on the squad is tremendous. Through four games, the Nuggets have a +1.6 net rating in the 153 minutes he's been on the floor but in the 44 minutes that he's been on the bench, they have a net rating of -20.6.

At the end of seven gamedays, Denver is 14th in the West but Jokic ranks in the Top 10 on ESPN's Player Efficiency Rating and NBA.com's Player Imapct Estimate, and tied-third in Win Shares as per Basketball-Reference.

Prior to the season, he ranked 10th in MVP odds but If the Nuggets start stacking up the wins, watch for Jokic rising on the league's MVP leaderboard.

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