By Romi Bean

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.

Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets puts up a shot over Jusuf Nurkic #27 of the Portland Trail Blazers in the second quarter during Game Two of their Western Conference first-round playoff series at Ball Arena on May 24, 2021. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)

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.

Nikola Jokic #15 of the Denver Nuggets shoots under coverage by Deandre Ayton #22 of the Phoenix Suns in Game Three of the Western Conference second-round playoff series at Ball Arena on June 11, 2021 in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images)

“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.

Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets walks to the locker room at the conclusion of the second quarter against the Portland Trail Blazers at Ball Arena on Monday, May 24, 2021. (Photo by AAron Ontiveroz/MediaNews Group/The Denver Post via Getty Images)

“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.”

Romi Bean