DENVER (CBS4)– As the Denver Nuggets sort through their offseason to-do list, load management for Nikola Jokic is a topic they’ll spend plenty of time discussing.
Jokic was one of only a handful of players to play all 72 games in the 2020-2021 season. His availability contributed to his winning the NBA MVP award, but it wasn’t the only factor.
“Nikola never likes to sit. I think this year, him playing all 72 games played a small part in him winning MVP. I still think if he had missed 5 games, he still should have won MVP,” Coach Michael Malone said.
As impressive as Jokic’s availability was, it ended up being detrimental to the Nuggets in the postseason. By the second round, Jokic’s fatigue was evident and without a supporting cast to shoulder the load, the Nuggets were swept by the Suns.
“That’s a discussion we’ll continue to have. How can we help him so at the end of the season, we get out of the first round and he’s not completely shot,” Malone said.
In his end-of-the-year news conference, Malone said one thought is to schedule a few nights off before the start of the season instead of trying to do it while the season is in progress.
“I think we almost have to do it ahead of time to take the emotion out of it. Because what happens is this: we’re getting ready to play a game that maybe Nikola can sit. But then we lose a game we were supposed to win and then we say, we can’t have Nikola sit, we have to win this next game. You want to avoid that. I think taking the emotion out and doing it ahead of time.”