Former Wizards star gives an interesting take on Nikola Jokic

Gilbert Arenas doesn't believe Jokic can be trusted in clutch moments
Denver Nuggets v Minnesota Timberwolves - Game Three
Denver Nuggets v Minnesota Timberwolves - Game Three / David Berding/GettyImages

As the NBA world already knows, Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic is now a three-time Most Valuable Player award winner. The season he had was remarkable, finishing with averages of 26.4 points, 12.4 rebounds, 9.0 assists, and 1.4 steals per game.

But, just like every year, there is some controversy surrounding the MVP voting outcome. Although Jokic received a total of 926 votes and 79 first-place ones, there are a good amount of pundits who disagree with the decision.

One of those individuals being former Washington Wizards star Gilbert Arenas.

During a Thursday episode of Shannon Sharpe and Chad Johnson’s podcast Nightcap, Arenas sounded off on the Serbia native, saying Oklahoma City Thunder guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander deserved the award more due to his clutch gene.

Gilbert Arenas weighs in on the league's MVP choice

"Are we going to ignore the fact that [Jokic] is not the go-to guy when it counts? Are we going to ignore the fact that what SGA does at the end of the game, he’s a clutch player...that ball goes to Murray at the end of the game. He is the guy who Jokic relies on to hit those buckets. He becomes the number one option when the game is on the line. So you’re giving the MVP to a guy who, when it counts, has to give it to another guy."

Gilbert Arenas

Arenas might have a strong point. Based off the NBA’s prime definition, clutch plays occur during the last five minutes of a game or in overtime if the score is within five points. Even though Golden State Warriors superstar Stephen Curry won the Clutch Player of the Year honor, Gilgeous-Alexander finished in third place for the voting with 160 votes while Jokic finished fourth with only 85 votes.

The Nuggets’ performance in this year’s playoffs also strengthens Arenas’ case, mainly in the first round against the Los Angeles Lakers. Jokic still played to his standard, averaging 28.2 points, 16.2 rebounds, 9.8 assists and 1.2 steals. However, it was Murray who Denver counted on to close games out. In Game 2, he hit a fadeaway game-winning buzzer-beater to secure a 101-99 win. Three games later, he scored a game-winning shot to eliminate the Lakers.

Arenas has been in Murray's situation countless times

Some might hear Arenas’ take and discredit him but he was a player who was a go-to guy for the Wizards for years. For most of his tenure in the Nation’s Capital, he was known for taking over in close games and even sealing a few deals, such as the one in 2007 against the Utah Jazz.

However, his best clutch moments always came in the postseason. With a 2-2 tied series in the first round of the 2005 playoffs, the Wizards visited the Chicago Bulls with high hopes. With the game clock winding down and both teams tied, Arenas hit a buzzer-beating midrange jump shot over Kirk Hinrich to secure a much-needed win, putting them in great position to win the series in Game 6, which they did.

Another one took place the following year against the LeBron James-led Cleveland Cavaliers. But, this time, the situation was a bit different. The Cavaliers held a 3-2 series lead and were just five seconds away from winning it. However, Arenas took an inbound pass to knock down a long-distance 3-pointer over Ronald Murray, sending the game into overtime. Although the Cavaliers held on to win, it proved that the Wizards trusted Arenas.

Like Murray, Arenas never won an MVP award, despite being the franchise’s go-to guy. Considering he was in MVP talks throughout his run with the Wizards, he could be making a valid point regarding Jokic's impact.

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