DENVER — Nikola Jokic was selected with the 41st draft pick when he entered the NBA seven years ago.

Now, by overwhelming consensus, he’s No. 1.

The Nuggets’ big man was revealed Tuesday as the NBA’s Most Valuable Player for 2020-21, making him by far the lowest draft pick ever to win the award. “The Joker” now has his name etched alongside the greatest players in league history, which surely seemed unlikely when he was that unheralded prospect out of Sombor, Serbia in 2014.

“To be honest, I didn’t even think I would be in the NBA,” Jokic said. “My goal when I started to play basketball back home, it was playing in Euroleague because that was kind of the closest top league to my country.”

He did a little more.

Jokic was the runaway winner, getting 91 of the 101 first-place ballots cast – 100 of them from a global panel of sportswriters and broadcasters who cover the league, the other being an aggregate first-place ballot compiled from fan voting.

That fan vote was the outlier: It went to 2011 NBA MVP Derrick Rose of the New York Knicks, the only vote Rose got.

Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid was second, Golden State’s Stephen Curry was third, 2019 and 2020 MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo of Milwaukee was fourth and Phoenix’s Chris Paul was fifth.

The previous record-holders for lowest draft picks who became MVPs were Steve Nash and Giannis Antetokounmpo, who were both chosen 15th overall. Antetokounmpo won the MVP award each of the last two seasons.

The news came in a team meeting Tuesday, with NBA Commissioner Adam Silver appearing on a video screen to deliver the word.

Jokic had a league-high 60 double-doubles and added 16 triple-doubles – second-most in the NBA behind only triple-double king and former MVP Westbrook – this season.

Jokic’s scoring average jumped from 19.9 points per game last season to 26.4. He tied his career high with 10.8 rebounds per game and his average of 8.3 assists was just shy of Wilt Chamberlain’s all-time season average (8.6) for a center.

He shot 56% from the field and 39% from 3-point range.

TUESDAY’S GAME

76ERS 118, HAWKS 102: Joel Embiid had 40 points and 13 rebounds and Shake Milton buried a 32-footer and scored 14 points in an electrifying stretch off the bench to lead Philadelphia over visiting Atlanta to even the Eastern Conference semifinal.

Game 3 is Friday in Atlanta.

Milton was a sixth man who then lost his spot in the rotation and scored only 17 points over spotty action in six playoff games this season. Coach Doc Rivers kept the faith and Shake rattled the Hawks and helped the Sixers roll to a 14-0 run that blew the game open and sent a packed house into a frenzy.

Milton did not play in the first half but buried a long-distance 3 at the horn to send the Sixers into the fourth quarter with a 91-84 lead. He kept it going with a jumper early in the fourth that made it 95-84.

Embiid hopped off the bench and went wild and was the first one to greet Milton heading into a timeout. Milton received a standing ovation not much later when he left the game with the Sixers up 114-97. His 14 minutes were the most valuable of Game 2.

Embiid proved his value all season.

Embiid, Tobias Harris and Seth Curry steadied the top-seeded Sixers a game after they fell behind by 26 and were stunned in a Game 1 defeat.

Trae Young scored 21 points for the Hawks, Danilo Gallinari scored 21 and Kevin Huerter had 20.

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