Northwest Notes: Nuggets, Blazers, Wolves

Nuggets rookie center Nikola Jokic is emerging as one of the biggest surprises of Denver’s season, Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post writes. “I did not expect Nikola Jokic to be our starting center 14 games into the season. But he has earned it. … He’s a guy who was wearing a pink uniform and playing in the Adriatic League last year. Now he is in the NBA, starting and doing great things,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. Jokic, who is averaging 7.8 points per game and five rebounds per game, signed a four-year deal worth $5.5MM in July after sitting out last season as a  draft-and-stash prospect

Here’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • Malone believes it is important to keep Wilson Chandler, who is out for the season, around the team as the small forward begins his rehab, Christopher Dempsey of the Denver Post relays. “That was one thing that I felt very strongly about,” Malone said. “Make sure he feels a part of it, still. So once he starts traveling, we’ll have him travel with us the whole time. I might even give him a clipboard so he can be one of our coaches.”
  • Karl-Anthony Towns‘ lack of playing time recently in the fourth quarter for the Wolves is the result of reserve Gorgui Dieng being a more experienced defensive player, Jerry Zgoda of the Star Tribune details.
  • Noah Vonleh, with whom the Blazers exercised their rookie scale team option for the 2016/17 season, is experiencing foul trouble while making five starts at power forward as Meyers Leonard recovers from a dislocated left shoulder, Jason Quick of writes. Vonleh has struggled to make an impact because fouls have forced him back to the bench, Quick adds.
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