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Will Barton makes case for Nuggets star Nikola Jokic as MVP

Nikola Jokic, Nuggets

Denver Nuggets swingman Will Barton made a strong case for teammate Nikola Jokic as the Most Valuable Player of the league, after the big man trotted out a near triple-double to escape with a narrow 116-113 win at home over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Jokic put up 40 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, playing without the team’s best defender in the lineups in Gary Harris.

The Nuggets have been decimated by a plethora of injuries, but ‘The Joker’ has been the only constant card in Mike Malone’s deck, as he has played in all 42 games this season — all while posting career-bests in scoring (19.7), assists (7.5) and steals per game (1.4).

“I think it’s a no brainer that he should be in that conversation,” said Barton, according to Harrison Wind of BSN Denver. “A team that wasn’t in the playoffs last year, to have the best record in the West, one of the best records in the NBA, our original starting five has barely seen the floor together. Guys have been in and out of the lineup, key players. And what he’s doing, I mean, how can you not say he’s an MVP candidate?”

The Nuggets have been leading the Western Conference standings for nearly a month now, as Jokic has managed to keep their ship afloat, despite the constant absences in the lineup.

Malone has made the case for his center’s MVP chances multiple times this season, but the West has fallen in love with James Harden’s resurgent season after the Rockets fell into 14th place, rather than seeing the huge improvement from a non-playoff team into the first seed of the conference.