Rookie center Nikola Jokic is arguably the biggest surprise of the Nuggets‘ preseason, and the young big man will be called upon early in the season to produce with projected starter Jusuf Nurkic out until November, Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post writes. “Nikola Jokic, he’s a young kid and I’m not saying he’s ready, but he does things every practice that make you say ‘Wow, this kid has a chance to be a [heck of a] player,’” coach Michael Malone said. “For him to be that young and that skilled is really exciting to see. The fact that he’s gotten so much better even from summer league.“
Here’s what else is happening in the Northwest:
- Thunder forward Steve Novak downplayed teammate Enes Kanter‘s feud with the Jazz organization, and suggested that the situation between the two sides was blown out of proportion last season, writes Anthony Slater of The Oklahoman. “I’m not really sure what went on there, but Enes is a great guy and Utah is a great organization,” Novak said. “I was here [Utah] with Enes. There was never any big incidents. I think it became a little bit bigger than it was. And I know Enes played to it and got a little bit of what he deserved.” Novak, when asked if he thought Kanter would do things differently with the benefit of hindsight, Novak responded, “I doubt it. He had to get something out and he got it out. He felt good about it. And then he probably felt bad about it and now it’s over with…Enes is very happy and Utah is doing great, so it’s over.”
- Jazz point guard Dante Exum credits a month of grueling prehab work in Utah for helping prepare him for his ACL surgery, and he’s making excellent progress in his recovery as a result, Jody Genessy of The Deseret News writes. “The prehab — as much as I hated it, it was really good for me,” Exum told Genessy. “I saw the results coming out of the surgery. I was still able to lift my leg up on its own. The strength was still there as much as I’d lost. That was the biggest thing. It’s helped me to be able to walk sooner, get off the crutches and out of the brace, just because of that.”
- Damian Lillard is excited about being paired alongside Maurice Harkless, and he believes the two of them give the Blazers a formidable backcourt, Mike Richman of The Oregonian relays. Portland acquired Harkless from the Magic this summer in exchange for a protected 2020 second round pick.