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Nuggets Coach Mike Malone On Nikola Jokic: "If He's Not MVP, Then Who Is?"

Nikola Jokic

One of the NBA's most interesting storylines this season is the unusually wide-open MVP race. While stars like Steph Curry, Kevin Durant, and Giannis Antetokounmpo established themselves as early candidates, their campaign has been compromised for one reason or another.

Meanwhile, in Denver, Nikola Jokic continues putting on an impressive show. This season, without Jamal Murray at his side, Jokic is averaging 25.9 points, 13.9 rebounds, and 7.4 assists per game, which rival his stats from last year's MVP season.

Following Nikola's 49-point masterpiece in a win over the Clippers on Wednesday, head coach Mike Malone got real on what kind of season he thinks the 3x All-Star is having.

“That guy can beat you with his passing, his scoring, his rebounding, and that last pass to Aaron not only wins the game but gives him his 10th assist on the night,” Malone said. “That was an incredible game. You tell me. If Nikola Jokic isn’t the MVP, then who is?”

Of course, alone is not the only one to hold such an opinion. Way back in December, renowned ESPN analyst Zach Lowe shared his shock that Jokic wasn't yet part of the MVP conversation.

"It's beyond stupid that we frame this as a two-man race. Nikola Jokic is averaging 26.5 points, 14 rebounds, 7 assists, 58% shooting 66% on twos. Pick whatever advanced stat you want, he leads the NBA in every single one. He's on pace for the highest player efficiency rating ever. The Nuggets with Nikola Jokic on the floor: +14 per 100 possessions. With Nikol Jokic on the bench, -16. With Nikola Jokic on the floor, the Denver Nuggets are basically the best team ever, off the floor they're the worst team ever and the only reason he's not in the MVP conversation is because the Nuggets, without everybody, are just 14-13."

The biggest thing clouding The Joker's MVP campaign is the team's win-loss record. So far, the Nuggets are just 6th in the West with a 23-20 record overall. That certainly holds Jokic back from being in the same air as guys like Curry and Durant, whose teams are near the top of the standings.

Nevertheless, what's happening in Denver deserves to be recognized. FOr the second straight season, Nikola Jokic is putting on an unreal performance. Without him, who knows how much worse the Nuggets would be?

Love him or hate him, Jokic belongs with the best of them.