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Quin Snyder is a big fan of the Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic. He just doesn’t like scouting him

Denver visits Salt Lake City on Tuesday night, along with their MVP big man extraordinaire

SHARE Quin Snyder is a big fan of the Nuggets’ Nikola Jokic. He just doesn’t like scouting him
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Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic (15) drives to the rim as Jazz guard Donovan Mitchell (45) and center Rudy Gobert (27) defend during game Sunday, Jan. 31, 2021, in Denver. The two teams square off Tuesday night at Vivint Arena.

David Zalubowski, Associated Press

Utah Jazz coach Quin Snyder is a big fan of Denver Nuggets center Nikola Jokic.

Who wouldn’t be? He’s the reigning MVP and one of the most dynamic passing bigs the game has ever seen.

“What makes his skillset so unique is his size — he basically plays like a point guard, he can score like a wing, he’s got post moves and counters and when he shoots his turnaround it’s nearly unblockable,” Snyder said on Monday. “I love ... I mean I don’t know if you’re allowed to have a favorite player as a coach, and there’s probably a few of them, but he’s one of the guys that I really enjoy watching.”

Jokic is a joy to watch play basketball but he’s also the kind of player that gives opposing teams fits because there’s no real way to scheme against him.

“I don’t enjoy scouting him as much as I do watching him,” Snyder said with a laugh.

Jokic is a 6-foot-11 brute with a body of a traditional post player, but he’s smart with the ball in his hands and arguably the best passer in the NBA. The phrase “threading the needle” is as close of a comparison as you can get because even on replay it’s hard to understand how he’s able to make some of these passes that look like they defy space and time.

“What makes his skillset so unique is his size — he basically plays like a point guard, he can score like a wing, he’s got post moves and counters and when he shoots his turnaround it’s nearly unblockable. I love ... I mean I don’t know if you’re allowed to have a favorite player as a coach, and there’s probably a few of them, but he’s one of the guys that I really enjoy watching.” — Jazz coach Quin Snyder

Since Jokic is so good at seeing the court and thinking two, three, four steps ahead, throwing double-teams at him is a dangerous game because he’s big enough to see over a double and savvy enough to find an open cutter or shooter.

But even when he’s not passing the ball he can back down into the post and hit hook shots, has a light and efficient touch around the basket and if you pull him out of the paint he can hit a jumper over the top of you with a high release from any point on the court.

Jokic being named MVP last season was, as Rudy Gobert sees it, well-deserved. Gobert said that Jokic had his vote because he carried the Nuggets and made the team better, even after losing guard Jamal Murray to a season-ending injury.

So, when the Nuggets are in Salt Lake City on Tuesday night, the Jazz are clearly going to have their hands full with Jokic leading the attack. But the Jazz have handled this team before.

In their most recent meeting on May 7, near the end of the 2020-21 season, the two Western Conference powerhouses faced off without their lead guards with Murray sidelined and Donovan Mitchell watching from the bench with a sprained ankle. Even so, everyone knew that the game was going to be a must watch event.

“There’s obviously some games where you know there’s a little (something )extra,” Gobert said. “Denver is one of those teams. We know that at the end of the season it’s those games that could be the difference between being first or second or maybe being fourth or fifth.”

On that night in May, not only were teams still jockeying for position in the West, but the Jazz would need one of Bojan Bogdanovic’s best games in order for them to win.

“You just reminded me, I completely forgot. But yeah, I had a career-high on them,” Bogdanovic said. “It’s going to be a fun game, fun matchup. We always have great games and great battles against them.”

This time around Mitchell will be playing so they won’t need a career-high 48 points from Bogdanovic, but they’re going to need to be more focused than ever on the defensive end.

The Jazz are going to throw as many defensive looks as they can against Jokic to try to make things as tough as possible for him and hope that they can slow him down enough to gain the upper hand, and even then it might not be enough. That’s why the games between the Jazz and Nuggets are so good. No matter the outcome, you’re almost guaranteed a good show.

MVP vs. DPOY is a pretty good matchup for a Tuesday night.