After sitting at home for over a week, the Denver Nuggets will finally get their first NBA Finals ever underway against the Miami Heat on Thursday. The Western Conference winners are the favorites to win the series, and the team’s star, Nikola Jokic, is the odds-on favorite to win the NBA Finals MVP Award. Here is why a Nikola Jokic MVP win is a forgone conclusion before the series even kicks off.

3. The Nuggets are the far better team

Looking at the Nuggets and the Heat both in terms of record and roster, there is no question who the better team is.

Denver finished an impressive 52-29 this season and won the West with a two-game cushion over the Memphis Grizzlies. On the other side of the bracket, the Heat finished in seventh place in the East, going 44-38, and even lost their first play-in game to the Atlanta Hawks.

In the playoffs, things didn’t change all that much when comparing the Nuggets and Heat.

Miami finally got into the playoffs officially by beating the Chicago Bulls in the final play-in contest. Then the team was impressive for sure, putting upsets in five games over the Milwaukee Bucks, six games over the New York Knicks, and seven games vs. the Boston Celtics. All told the Heat are 12-6 in these NBA playoffs.

For Denver, they’ve made light work of their opponents thus far in the postseason as well. They dispatched the Minnesota Timberwolves in five games, the Phoenix Suns in six, and the Los Angeles Lakers in four. So far, the Nuggets are 12-3 in the postseason.

Why is this important when making the Nikola Jokic MVP case?

Because the NBA Finals MVP almost always (save for Jerry West in 1969) goes to a player on the winning team, and the Nuggets seem likely to be that winning team after the years they and the Heat have had.

2. Bill Simmons’ 42 Club

Love him or hate him, The Ringer's Bill Simmons is an important basketball historian. He literally wrote The Book of Basketball.

Among the light-hearted Simmons takes like the Ewing Theory, the Tyson Zone, and his top (insert random number) NBA players lists, his 42 Club does make a lot of sense when trying to measure and compare historical performances in the NBA playoffs.

The 42 Club is made up of the players whose points, assists, and rebound averages from a given postseason add up to 42 or better.

Heading into the 2023 NBA Finals, the highest totals in league history are Wilt Chamberlin in 1962 (63.2) and 1967 (59.8), Bill Russell in 1961 and 1962 (53.8), Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in 1974 (52.9), Julius Erving in 1975 (52.2), Jerry West in 1965 (51.6), LeBron James in 2018 (50.8), and Elgin Baylor in 1962 (50.7).

These numbers all include the Finals, and Jokic still has four to seven games to go this season, but thus far, Jokic has 29.9 points, 10.3 assists, and 13.3 rebounds to give him the fifth-best total of all time at 53.5.

Even if Jokic’s numbers falter a bit, he should still end up in the top 10, making his 2023 NBA playoffs one of the most dominant postseason runs of all time. And if he takes home the Larry O’Brien trophy as well, a Nikola Jokic MVP win should come with it.

1. Nikola Jokic is the best player in the NBA right now

Only three players in league history (Bill Russell: 1960-63, Wilt Chamberlain: 1965-68, and Larry Bird: 1983-86) have won three-straight MVP awards. Since ’86, no other player has achieved this feat despite Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Tim Duncan, Steve Nash, LeBron James (twice), Stephen Curry, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Jokic all winning back-to-back awards.

However, for almost 40 years, the NBA MVP voters have refused to give out a third straight, even if it seems to many that the reining MVP deserves it. This happened to Jordan, Nash, and James, at least.

In 2023, facing down the chance to join Russell, Chamberlain, and Bird, Jokic got the usual treatment, and the voters gave it to Joel Embiid.

The numbers were close, as Embiid averaged 33.1 points, 4.2 assists, 10.2 rebounds, 1.0 steals, and 1.7 blocks, while Jokic put up 24.5 points, 9.8 assists, 11.8 rebounds, 1.3 steals, and 0.7 blocks. And the 76ers went 54-28 while the Nuggets finished 53-29.

Whether Jokic should have won the award this season, it’s safe to say he’s the best player left in the playoffs by far. All due respect to Jimmy Butler and his two-way greatness, but he doesn’t dominate games right now in the same fashion “The Joker” does.

For those who watched Jokic all season or those who just started getting a taste for his incredible game in the playoffs, a Nikola Jokic NBA Finals MVP seems immanent.