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#pounditThursday, February 22, 2024

Mike Malone takes shot at Nikola Jokic MVP critics

Michael Malone smiling

Feb 5, 2020; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone reacts during the fourth quarter against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Jeffrey Swinger-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Nuggets coach Mike Malone has waded into the debate over Nikola Jokic’s MVP candidacy.

Jokic has been a flashpoint in some NBA circles over whether he deserves a third consecutive MVP award at the expense of the likes of Joel Embiid and Giannis Antetokounmpo. Jokic appears to be the favorite for the honor right now, though critics have focused on his absence from the top ten in points per game as one reason to prefer someone like Embiid.

Malone took a shot at those critics on Thursday, suggesting that they are resentful of a “non-athletic player from Sombor, Serbia who continues to kick everybody’s ass.”

That is a pretty strong comeback from Malone. It could also be seen as a jab at Kendrick Perkins, who made headlines for accusing Jokic of “stat-padding” and then doubling down in an absurd way.

Embiid is averaging 33 points and 10.4 rebounds per game and is undoubtedly elite. However, Jokic is the best player on the West’s best team and is averaging a triple-double as a seven-footer. Diminishing that is just silly.

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