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Nets coach Steve Nash: “Clearly, Jokic is the MVP this year”

Brooklyn Nets coach Steve Nash believes it’s time to end the NBA’s Most Valuable Player debate.

It’s the Joker’s award to lose.

“Clearly, (Nikola) Jokic is the MVP this year,” Nash said pregame Saturday at Ball Arena. “He’s kind of gone wire-to-wire at this high level. He makes his teammates better and everything go. They lose Jamal Murray and they haven’t really skipped a beat. That shows how good he is.”

Nash, a two-time MVP winner with the Suns (2005-06), expanded on why Jokic has now earned the distinction.

“He’s such a willing and contagious passer,” Nash said. “He can make the assist, but he can also make the right read. It becomes the hockey assist where the ball moves to one or two guys down the line, and they get open shots. He facilitates that style of play and that willingness to pass. He’s able to knock down that first domino.”

Jokic is currently the oddsmaker’s favorite to win MVP (-1400 per BetMGM). The Serbian center regularly declines to bolster his own candidacy for the award. But Nuggets coach Michael Malone might be his strongest spokesman.

“My argument of why Nikola is the MVP, for us to do what we have done, with all the injuries — especially to your second-best player (Jamal Murray) — really speaks to the impact that Nikola has in every facet of the game,” Malone said. “Offense, defense, leadership, culture, or whatever you want to call it. We’ve been able to weather the storm because of how well Nikola has played and his ability to make everyone around him better.”