Nikola Jokic takes narrow lead over Joel Embiid in the race for the MVP Award

Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets has moved ahead of Philadelphia 76ers' Joel Embiid to emerge as the top pick for the MVP Award in a straw poll conducted by ESPN.

Jokic won the MVP Award last season off the back of significant improvements in his ability to score, pass and rebound the ball.

This season, the 27-year-old has become even more active on the boards, as he hauls in nearly three more rebounds per game this season than he did in his last campaign.

Advanced stats back up the notion that star center Jokic should repeat as the MVP this season, as he's putting up the best true shooting percentage of 65.9 per cent among other big men who have averaged at least 20 points per game throughout the history of the league.

His all-around stats also blow away the other people on that list, with his rebounding and assist numbers being significantly better than his competition.

It's not like the Serbia superstar is the most multi-faceted scorer either.

While he possesses the ability to shoot the three, that's not a shot he goes to very often.

Instead, he uses his bulldozing abilities to bully opposing defenders for easy looks at the rim and relies heavily on his mid-range jumper.

The four-time NBA All-Star currently converts nearly 65 per cent of his 2-point attempts.

Among big men who have averaged at least 20 points per game in NBA history, only Wilt Chamberlain converted a higher percentage of his 2-point looks.

'The Joker' has such an awkward game that it plays very well into his nickname.

There's nothing flashy about his game save for the occasional pass that leaves everybody watching absolutely speechless about what they just saw.

How Jokic has carried the Nuggets this season

The Denver Nuggets have dealt with a huge dose of adversity this season, as Jamal Murray has been missing all season long and they have been without Michael Porter Jr. as well.

However, they still find themselves in the sixth spot in the Western Conference due to the strong play of Jokic.

Jokic has embraced having the offense run through him each and every possession, which shifts the focus of opposing defenses towards him no matter where he's at on the floor.

In those instances, he's either met with the option of hitting a pull-up jumper in the mid-range or utilising the 3-point weapons he has available to him in the flow of the offense.

The two-time Serbian Player of the Year is the type of player that lets the game come to him rather than forcing the action, but he somehow still comes away with triple-doubles on a pretty common basis.

With the burden Jokic has had to carry this year combined with his gaudy numbers, he is clearly a favourite to win the MVP Award yet again.

READ MORE: Ranking the top 10 players in NBA history - find out if your pick makes the cut

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