Western Notes: Thunder, Daniels, Bjelica

The Thunder are staying calm despite two devastating early-season injuries, reports Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News. A hurt hand cost Russell Westbrook the first month of the season, and foot and ankle injuries have limited Kevin Durant to just nine games this season.  “We want to get our guys healthy,” said coach Scott Brooks. “Until then, we want to keep improving so that when the guys come back, we’re a better team. These are great opportunities to build our team and our bench when Kevin comes back.”

There was more on Sunday from the Western Conference:

  • Troy Daniels is quickly finding a home with the Timberwolves, writes Jerry Zgoda of The Star Tribune. After being acquired from the Rockets in the December 19th trade that sent Corey Brewer to Houston, Daniels has impressed with his three-point shooting touch. He hit four from long distance in the fourth quarter of Saturday’s loss to the Warriors and wound up with 14 points in less than 9 minutes of action. “That’s my job,” Daniels said. “I always stay ready and shoot the ball when I’m open.” Daniels is in the first year of a two-year guaranteed contract for the minimum salary.
  • Wolves draft-and-stash prospect Nemanja Bjelica offers hope for ex-GM David Kahn‘s 2010 draft class, writes Zgoda.  He’s currently in the midst of a season that has caught the eye of team president/coach Flip Saunders. “He has proven it this year,” Saunders said. “He has taken his game to another step up, to where he’s ready to come over here. He has potential because he’s 6’10” or 6’11”, but he’s very skilled. He’s a guy we’ll definitely follow.
  • Nuggets rookie Jusuf Nurkic is impressing early on in his NBA career, writes Christopher Dempsey of The Denver Post.  “He’s my type of player,” Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried said. “He likes to bang. He likes to rebound.” Nurkic, a 6’11” big man, has earned more playing time of late, seeing 16.1 minutes per contest in his last eight games.

Zach Links contributed to this post.

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