Thursday, January 27 2022
jokic.jpg
USATSI

The Denver Nuggets are too dependent on the reigning MVP. After their 108-106 loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday, coach Michael Malone lamented how they’ve played without Nikola Jokic on the court. 

“Every time he comes out, everything just falls apart,” Malone said. “It’s every night.”

In the first half against the Grizzlies, it looked like the story would be different — Denver’s starters fell down 17-5 less than five minutes into the game, and Jokic was on the bench for most of the 25-7 run that followed. With Jokic on the bench late in the third quarter, though, Memphis got off to an 18-3 run that stretched into the fourth. It all happened in less than four minutes, and it prompted Malone to put Jokic back in the game sooner than he’d planned. 

“I went to him in the fourth quarter and I called his name and he looked at me kind of like, ‘Already?'” Malone said. “And I feel for him.”

Jokic scored 13 points on 5-for-7 shooting in the fourth quarter, but missed a contested shot that could have forced overtime. 

“Nikola’s going to be worn down by Christmas at this rate,” Malone said. “And that’s unfortunate. So I have to do my job to try to figure it out. Try to help that unit. mix and match, try different guys, whatever it is, but we just have to be better when Nikola Jokic is not on the floor.”

The Nuggets are 4-4, but when Jokic has been on the court, they’ve outscored opponents by 14.2 points per 100 possessions, per Cleaning The Glass, which filters out heaves and garbage time. This is largely thanks to much stingier defense. 

With Jokic off the court, though, Denver has been a mess on both ends. The early-season numbers are gross: 

Nuggets Offensive rating Defensive rating Net rating

Jokic on

108.7 94.5 +14.2

Jokic off

94.5 119.9 -25.4

The Nuggets are dead-last in aggregate net bench rating, per NBA.com. Free-agent addition Jeff Green has not found his footing yet, and lineups featuring him and JaMychal Green together have been outscored by 36.8 points per 100 possessions, per CTG. Generally speaking, small-sample-size lineup data (136 possessions, in this case) shouldn’t be trusted, but when the trend is this extreme, it is alarming. 

Malone split up the Greens on Wednesday, and he had already tweaked his rotation. Austin Rivers hasn’t played in the last two games, and rookie Bones Hyland logged 21 minutes on Wednesday after receiving DNP-CDs at the beginning of the season. If Denver’s second unit can’t get its act together soon, perhaps something more drastic will have to be done. Everybody knows Jokic is one of those special players who makes his teammates better, but his powers are limited to the minutes in which he’s on the floor. 

Source: CBSSports.com

Previous

Way-too-early look at MLB's 2022 World Series contenders

Next

Heat vs. Celtics odds, line, spread: 2021 NBA picks, Nov. 4 predictions from proven computer model

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Check Also

Pro Sports Media

Trending Now

PHT Morning Skate: Flyers’ want to ‘aggressively retool’; Lundqvist on Fallon

Welcome to the PHT Morning Skate, a collection of links from the NHL and around the hockey world. Have a link you want to submit? Email us at phtblog@nbcsports. • It’s more of plan to “aggressively retool” than a rebuild for the Flyers. [NBC Sports Philadelphia] • Jeff Carter signs a two-year extension with the […]

Read More

Anthony Davis injury update: Lakers star upgraded to ‘questionable’ for Sunday’s game vs. Heat

The Los Angeles Lakers could be getting a major piece back very soon. All-Star forward Anthony Davis has been officially upgraded to questionable for the Lakers contest against the Heat in Miami on Sunday. His final status will be determined prior to tip time, according to Lakers reporter Mike Trudell. Davis has been out of the […]

Read More

Why Titans will be a different team vs. Bengals if Derrick Henry plays, plus Troy Aikman isn’t wrong

Getty Images Happy Thursday morning, all. I hope this newsletter finds you well. Let’s get right to it. This is the article version of the CBS Sports HQ AM morning newsletter. To sign up and get this in your inbox, fill out the information below. Please check the opt-in box to acknowledge that you would […]

Read More