Rest the big man! Why is Nikola Jokic playing while dealing with an injury?

Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets
Minnesota Timberwolves v Denver Nuggets / Matthew Stockman/GettyImages

The Nuggets got blown out at home on Friday night in their marquee matchup with the Timberwolves, falling 111-98 and trailing by as many as 26. The loss drops Denver to 51-23 on the season, dropping half a game below the Wolves and Thunder (both 51-22) for the Western Conference lead.

Jamal Murray was absent from this one, as he missed his fourth straight game with ankle and knee injuries. But the rest of the starters were out there and just didn’t have much fight. The Nuggets beat the Wolves just over a week ago in Minnesota but this looked like two different teams.

Denver has now lost back-to-back games, both at home, and they’ve failed to reach 100 points in either game. They’ve also fallen to third place in the conference.

Nikola Jokic dealing with an injury

Obviously missing Jamal is crucial, but that wasn’t the only issue. Nikola Jokic finished with a solid stat line, but he didn’t look himself out there. He had been listed on the injury report with back and hip issues, but it was the wrist that became the center of attention Friday night.

He was seen getting the wrist looked at and treated by trainers multiple times during the game, then after the game, Michael Malone said that he was surprised Jokic even played, considering the injury.

"“I was surprised he played tonight, to be quite honest…His wrist has really been giving him a lot of trouble, and Nikola is a guy who plays through a lot of things that most guys wouldn’t play through.”"

Michael Malone

This begs the question, why is he playing? If that quote from Malone is the truth, having Jokic on the court is insane. This team has won a championship and proven they can win anywhere. There is no reason to risk the health of the best player in the league if it’s already compromised. 

These are regular season games, and losing the one seed isn’t going to kill this team. Malone even went on to say,

""I have complete confidence that our group, regardless of seed, can beat anybody, anywhere when we're healthy, because we've done it.""

So then why risk Jokic’s health? He’s saying out loud what most people already know. The Nuggets are the best team and the West is theirs to lose. One of the only ways they actually can lose it is an injury absence for a starter, specifically Jokic and Murray.

The team is already holding Murray out for his own injuries, and they should do the same with Jokic. The team has put out two pathetic performances in a row. It’s not like they are playing inspired basketball and chasing the one seed.

If anything, it looks like they could use some rest. They are either running out of gas or they are coasting towards the playoffs at this point. Either way, that’s a good reason to get the big superstar some rest. Throw in the injury concerns, and this should be a no-brainer.