Nikola Jokic has been playing at an MVP-level to start the season: 24.6 points and 13.6 rebounds a game, a ridiculous 66.8 true shooting percentage (including 41% on 3-pointers), plus he leads the league in several advanced stats such as win share, boxscore +/-, VORP and PER. Put simply, Jokic is playing at a higher, more efficient level this season than last season when he won MVP.
Which is why it is bad news for the Nuggets that Jokic was in street clothes with a wrist injury Friday night in a loss to the Bulls. Jokic injured his wrist against the 76ers and was in a brace on Friday. When Nuggets coach Mike Malone was asked when Jokic would return, he gave a very vague answer, via Mike Singer of the Denver Post:
“He’s got a sore wrist,” Malone said after the Nuggets fell 114-108 to Chicago. “He was out tonight. He’s gotten X-rays, he’s gotten MRI’s, talking to the doctors. I don’t think it’s going to be a long-term thing at all, but at the same time, I don’t want to put him out there if he can only play with one hand. Unfair to ask him to do that. When he’s ready to play, he’ll play. That could be against Phoenix [on Sunday], that could be in a week. There’s no timeline at this point.”
It was evident how much the Nuggets missed him — the Bulls had 17 offensive rebounds (36.5% of their missed shots the Bulls got a second chance), and the Denver offense fell apart in critical possessions.
For the season, the Nuggets outscore opponents by 12.5 points per 100 possessions when Jokic is on the court, but get outscored by 11.1 per 100 when he sits. That’s a massive swing.