Northwest Notes: Watson, NAW, Saric, Blazers

Nuggets rookie Peyton Watson didn’t play more than 10 minutes in an NBA game until March 31, but he averaged 22.4 MPG in Denver’s last six contests and his teammates were impressed by what they saw, writes Mike Singer of The Denver Post (subscriber link). More importantly, Watson quickly earned the confidence of head coach Michael Malone.

“If I have to use Peyton Watson in a playoff series, I will, if the situation calls upon it,” Malone said. “He’s shown me he can go out there against some really good players and teams and impact the game in a positive light.”

The 30th overall pick last June, Watson scored double-digit points in two of the Nuggets’ last six games and blocked three shots in two separate games. As Singer writes, the 20-year-old presumably won’t be part of Malone’s regular playoff rotation, but could be a fit in certain switchable, defensive-oriented lineups.

Here’s more from around the Northwest:

  • Nickeil Alexander-Walker was something of an afterthought in February’s three-team Mike Conley/D’Angelo Russell/Russell Westbrook blockbuster, but the Timberwolves made his development a priority, writes Jon Krawczynski of The Athletic. As Krawczynski notes, that work paid off in Friday’s play-in game, when Alexander-Walker filled up the box score (12 points, six assists, four rebounds, three steals, two blocks) and helped limit his cousin Shai Gilgeous-Alexander to a 5-of-19 night. Alexander-Walker will be eligible for restricted free agency this July.
  • Asked on Saturday about his impending free agency, Thunder forward Dario Saric said he really enjoyed his time in Oklahoma City and would like to return, per Joe Mussatto of The Oklahoman (Twitter links). Saric went on to use an unorthodox metaphor to praise the organization. You know, sometimes you can feel it,” he said of the Thunder. “Same like laptops. Some laptops are better than other ones. You know what I mean? Sometimes they have the same controls … but some of them are better, and that’s what I would say.”
  • This summer appears likely to be the Trail Blazers‘ last chance to make the right roster moves around Damian Lillard to steer the team toward contention, according to Bill Oram of The Oregonian. If that doesn’t happen, Oram writes, a breakup between Lillard and the Blazers could be around the corner.