As any Basketball writer or talking head will tell you, the MVP race is as much about narrative as it is on-court stats. Nikola Jokic is certainly putting up stats that should get him in the conversation. There are guys out there putting up numbers that beat Nikola’s, not many, but there are some. However, few have a narrative to match what Jokic has the chance to put forward.
The Nuggets have been plagued by injuries all season, some of it was by their own design. They drafted two guys they knew weren’t healthy because of their potential and then went and signed Isaiah Thomas who was still recovering from surgery. Those three guys have been out all year, but halfway through game 2 of the regular season, they also lost Will Barton to a groin immediately breaking up what could be a special starting lineup.
Gary Harris has been fighting through injuries for much of the season (and career), and finally succumbing to one in Toronto. Two games later Paul Millsap breaks a toe on a freak play putting him out for a month or more. In the games since, Jokic has put up 25, 13, and 7 along with 2+ steals leading the Nuggets to a 3-1 record. If he continues to play like this and the Nuggets continue to put together wins despite their depleted rotation, no one has a better narrative for MVP than Jokic.
With the Nuggets on pace for 55 wins (far exceeding preseason expectations) and eying home court in the Playoffs, voters will have to look at the team and ask why. Well, the answer is Nikola Jokic. So for the first time possibly ever, Nuggets fans can start cheering MVP at Pepsi center and have a legitimate case. This young center is something special and he’s getting a great opportunity to prove it to the rest of the league.
The Veteran Point Guard
The Nuggets have been a revolving door of veteran backup point guards for years. First it was Randy Foye, then it was Jameer Nelson, followed by DJ Augustin, and finally tried out Devin Harris last season. Denver even signed Isaiah Thomas to the role this season only to see him sidelined after an offseason surgery (he’s had some great bench-reactions though).
Little did we know all the team had to do to find a veteran point guard, and turned to the 23-year-old with 24 NBA minutes. Monte Morris has been the best backup point guard in the league this season and I’m not sure there’s an argument. He dropped a casual 14 points, 6 assists and 2 steals with no turnovers against the Thunder and continues to hit big shots and make big plays. If Jokic is the MVP, Monte is everything else for this team and is a big reason the Nuggets bench has been one of the best in the league. It’s frustrating that Morris played 24 minutes last season making him ineligable for Rookie of the Year this season. Morris’ stats would have him in that conversation.
What is Trey Lyles’ trade value?
It’s that time of the year and no Nugget should be in this conversation more than Trey Lyles. He was huge for the Nuggets last season, but his game is very inconsistent and doesn’t really fit with the rest of the roster. Unfortunately, I believe his value has tanked and it may be hard for the Nuggets to recover much value for him before the February trade deadline.
His 3pt shot has disappeared and that’s where most of his value came from. That said the NBA trade market is a strange place and the Nuggets may be able to find a buyer and might even be able to pick up another role player who can stem the bleeding until this team gets healthy. It’s time to start looking for value bigs or defensive wings.
The Nuggets face off against an impressive Dallas Mavericks team tonight. It should be a fun game. Make sure to follow The All Around on Twitter for updates on all things Denver Nuggets.
Header Image Credit: (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)