'It definitely bothers you' – Nuggets HC Malone frustrated by sole All-Star selection

By Sports Desk February 13, 2023

Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone believes his side should have been rewarded with more than one All-Star selection after building such a commanding lead in the Western Conference.

The Nuggets came into Monday's play at 39-18, owners of a 4.5-game lead atop the West, but their only All-Star is reigning back-to-back league MVP Nikola Jokic.

Jokic, the favourite to win again this year and earn the first three-peat since Larry Bird from 1984-86, was an obvious selection, but the Nuggets had been campaigning for Aaron Gordon's first selection early in the season, before Jamal Murray also found his footing in the past couple months after an injury-impacted start to the campaign.

Gordon has started 49 of his side's 57 games – the same number as Jokic – while functioning as the team's top defender and averaging 17.3 points, 6.9 rebounds and 2.9 assists on career-best efficiency. In fact, his field goal percentage of 58.7 per cent is the fifth highest in the league among players attempting at least 10 shots per game.

Meanwhile, after a slow start, Murray is averaging 25.9 points, 7.5 assists, 4.6 rebounds and 1.2 steals on shooting splits of 49/41/91 across his past 15 games.

Speaking to the media ahead of Monday's game against the Miami Heat, Malone said he would have liked to see the best team get rewarded in the All-Star Game for their dominance.

"It definitely bothers you, when you are in first place in the West by four games and you have the second-best record in the NBA," he said. 

"Yes, Nikola is a great player and he's on his way to potentially winning three MVPs in a row, but we have other great players as well. 

"A guy like Aaron Gordon, like Jamal Murray, you would hope they would be given some respect, if you will.

"But we're not going to focus on that because I know for Aaron, for Jamal, for everybody in that locker room, our goals are much bigger than the All-Star game."

There have already been two replacement All-Stars named in the West after it became clear Zion Williamson and Stephen Curry were not going to be able to participate, but those reserve selections went to Minnesota Timberwolves rising star Anthony Edwards and Sacramento Kings point guard De'Aaron Fox.

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