NBA Draft 2020: Northwest Division Team Needs

Story posted November 15, 2020 in CommRadio, Sports by Matthew McLaughlin

While it may not get the most attention, the Northwest Division has quietly become one of the most competitive divisions in the NBA, with four teams from the Northwest making the playoffs.

Let's take a look at some needs for each team.

Denver Nuggets
2019-20 record: 46-27
Season Result: Lost in Conference Finals
Needs: PF

Despite their Conference Finals appearance, the Nuggets still have plenty of room for improvement, specifically the power forward position.

With Paul Millsap likely leaving the team in free agency and the Nuggets incredible injury history, Denver needs to shore up that four-spot, assuming Denver doesn’t resign Millsap.

A multidimensional wing defender such as Josh Green out of Arizona could easily slide into that starting lineup. Green’s 6’6” 210-pound frame offers versatility on the defensive end and 36 percent shooting percentage from downtown partially replaces Millsap’s offensive production.

Minnesota Timberwolves
2019-20 record: 19-47
Season Result: missed playoffs
Needs: SF, PF

Although Minnesota holds the No. 1 overall pick, the front office should consider trading back and waiting for a catch-and-shoot wing player who can play off the ball.

D’Angelo Russell and Karl Anthony-Towns will handle the majority of the offensive load, so the Timberwolves need a versatile wing defender who can space the floor with great shooting, which makes Aaron Nesmith the ideal candidate.

Nesmith’s 6’6” 213-pound stature, similar to Josh Green’s build, offers physicality on defense down low and his 51.2-percent shooting percentage would make him a great complementary piece  on the wing.

Oklahoma City Thunder
2019-20 record: 44-28
Season result: Lost in First Round
Team needs: SG, F

Despite the Thunder’s incredible season, this team is primed for a reset and build around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Darius Bazley and Lou Dort.

The first position to address in the draft is shooting guard because Gilgeous-Alexander needs a backcourt partner to lighten the offensive load and keep defenses honest, which opens the door for Leandro Bolmaro out of Spain.

Bolmaro has incredible shooting range and can address both guard and forward needs with his good defense and defense-stretching shooting.

Portland Trail Blazers
2019-20 record: 35-39
Playoff result: Lost in First Round
Team needs: PF, C

Last season, Portland was one of the most injury-riddled teams during the entire season but the Blazers lacked offensive production from the frontcourt.

Jusuf Nurkic was great when he returned in the playoffs but he was out for the entire season before the pause. Zach Collins is a great pick-and-pop power forward but his defense severely lags behind, which is why center Isaiah Stewart would be the ideal pick.

Stewart’s size (6’9” 290 lbs) allows him to be more physical than Portland’s other forwards, and he can defend the four and five sports in a starting lineup and his incredible instincts (2.1 BPG) will help solidify Portland’s defense.

Utah Jazz
2019-20 record: 44-28
Playoff result: Lost in First Round
Team Needs: SG, PF

Although Utah will get Bojan Bogdanovic back this season, Bogdonovic’s season-ending injury highlighted the Jazz’s lack of depth at shooting guard and power forward.

While Jordan Clarkson is a good backup, starting point guard Mike Conley struggled to get to his spots and effectively shoot during the playoffs and his five-year, $153 million contract extension expires after this upcoming season, which is why Utah should consider Cole Anthony from UNC.

Anthony is a great alternative because of his playmaking ability and defensive activity while offering cap flexibility due to his rookie contract.

As for power forward, versatile big men within the Western Conference (i.e. Lakers’ Anthony Davis and the Mavericks’ Kristaps Porzingis) took advantage of mismatches withs starter Royce O’Neale, which is why Xavier Tillman Jr. out of Michigan State could fill that gap.

Tillman offers a four-inch height advantage and much more defensive activity (2.1 BPG in his last season with MSU)  over O’Neale and could be a tremendous help center Rudy Gobert on weak-side rotations.  

Matthew McLaughlin is a freshman majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email