Denver Nuggets head coach Michael Malone joined Gil Whiteley to discuss the revelation of Nikola Jokic as well as Emmanuel Mudiay‘s improved play throughout the year.

“I’d be lying if I said he would be first team all-rookie,” Malone said about Jokic, who came in third for Rookie of the Year voting.

Although he showed Malone he could be a solid player during the Las Vegas Summer League last July, he did not think Jokic would be the player he has become.

Malone complemented him on his “high, high basketball IQ,” and discussed how young European players have a stronger skill set compared to Americans who come up the AAU system.

Malone also said he was proud of the improvements Mudiay made throughout the season. He specifically complimented his growth as a three-point shooter and ability to finish at the rim.

GIL WHITELEY LIVE STREAM“The thing that jumped out to me was his ability to make three-point jump shots,” Malone said. “Shooting was a big concern for us as a team, in general. Most of the year, teams made Emmanuel a jump shooter, and in the months of March and April he shot above 35 percent from the three-point line, which is a marked improvement from where he was at the beginning of the year.”

Malone was optimistic about the team as a whole, and there’s no question that Jokic and Mudiay will be large factors in the Nuggets’ future.

With a strong young core, valuable draft assets and several players returning from injury, things are looking up for the team.

Or as Malone says, “put all of that together and you have cause for excitement.”

To listen to Coach Malone’s thoughts on the Nuggets possible draft night options as well as the Conference Finals, click on the podcast below …

Catch Gil Whiteley every weekday from 11a-1p on Mile High Sports AM 1340 or FM 104.7, or stream live any time for the best local coverage of Colorado sports from Denver’s biggest sports talk lineup.