Northwest Notes: Jokic, Brewer, Millsap, Butler

Nikola Jokic‘s offensive production has dropped dramatically over the last three games, coinciding with the return of Paul Millsap from a wrist injury. Nuggets coach Michael Malone told reporters, including the Denver Post’s Gina Mizell, that his offense still revolves around his center. Jokic has averaged 12 PPG and while committing 12 turnovers over the last three games. “Nikola is still the focal point of our offense,” Malone said. “I don’t want Nikola thinking that he has to play second fiddle to anyone. … I want him to shoot the ball more and be more aggressive.”

In other developments around the Northwest Division:

  • Playing time, and the possibility of a starting role, led to Corey Brewer‘s decision to join the Thunder, Eric Horne of the The Oklahoman reports. “I didn’t feel like I could really pass that up,” Brewer told Horne.  Brewer played 12 scoreless minutes in his Oklahoma City debut on Saturday after being bought out by the Lakers and agreeing to terms with the Thunder. He reportedly also drew interest from the Wizards, Cavaliers and Bucks. The Thunder have sought help at shooting guard since Andre Roberson went down with a season-ending knee injury in late January.
  • Millsap hasn’t played more than 27 minutes in his first three games back but Malone said his workload will increase very soon, Chris Dempsey of Nuggets.com tweets. Millsap scored 11 points in 26 minutes against the Cavaliers on Saturday.
  • The Timberwolves are 2-2 in the first four games without Jimmy Butler and their defense, in particular, has suffered without him, as Chris Hine of the Minneapolis Star Tribune details. Metrics show that the Timberwolves have the 11th-best defensive rating with Butler on the court. When he’s not playing, their defensive rating is the worst in the league. Butler is recovering from knee surgery.  “Jimmy always guards the best perimeter player,” veteran guard Jamal Crawford noted to Hine.
  • There was skepticism when the Jazz signed Joe Ingles a four-year, $52MM contract last summer but it’s proving to be a bargain, according to Tim MacMahon of ESPN. Advanced metrics rate Ingles as one of the league’s top 10 small forwards this season and the intangibles he brings add to his value, as coach Quin Snyder told MacMahon. “There just hasn’t been anything that he’s not willing to do for the team,” Snyder said. “That’s where he’s found his game. He’s found his game making the team better when he’s on the floor.”

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