Northwest Notes: Diallo, KAT/D-Lo, MPJ, Lillard

Thunder wing Hamidou Diallo has displayed such improvement this season that he could be a leading candidate for Most Improved Player honors, argues Jenni Carlson of the Oklahoman.

Diallo’s output has dramatically increased across the board. The third-year swingman out of Kentucky is averaging career-highs in points (12.7), rebounds (5.5), assists (2.4), field goal percentage (48.9%) and minutes (24.2) for a chippy Thunder squad. “I would say the biggest thing is just opportunity,” he said of his progress this year. “Sometimes, when you have opportunity and you have people around you that believe in you, it just makes the game much easier.”

There’s more out of the Northwest Division:

  • A variety of health and injury problems have conspired to limit marquee Timberwolves players Karl-Anthony Towns and D’Angelo Russell to just five games together since Minnesota acquired Russell last season. Towns recently vented his frustration, as Chris Hine of the Star Tribune details. “Obviously we want to play with each other,” Towns said. “I finally come back [from a COVID-19 absence] and now he’s out [with a knee injury], so he was emotional too because it’s been bothering him, wanting to play together.” Britt Robson of The Athletic wonders if the Towns-Russell tandem, light on defense, will live up to fan expectations once it finally does appear more consistently.
  • Nuggets forward Michael Porter Jr. has shown off his impressive scoring abilities this season, but his defensive flaws (especially at the rim) are clear too, writes Michael Pina of Sports Illustrated. Porter, 22, is averaging 13.6 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.1 APG, 1.2 BPG and 1.0 SPG this season. He is also shooting well, with a slash line of .475/.379/.786.
  • Trail Blazers point guard Damian Lillard is set to compete three-point shooting contest at this year’s Atlanta All-Star Game, sources tell Chris Haynes of Yahoo Sports. Haynes notes that Lillard currently ranks third in the league when it comes to made three-pointers this season. Lillard’s 105 made triples rank behind only Buddy Hield (106) and Stephen Curry (140).
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