NBA Preview: Northwest Division

Story posted October 29, 2013 in Sports, CommRadio by Ryan McManus

Oklahoma City Thunder

Oklahoma City has gone through a lot of change in the last year, however they may have just gotten better. Led by star Kevin Durant the Thunder is an excellent team defensively with big bodies up front, Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins. Kevin Durant will lead the team offensively and could put up career numbers. The big question about the Thunder is the health of star point guard Russell Westbrook. Two surgeries after last season’s knee injury, Westbrook is still recovering and going to miss the beginning of the season. The thunder can only be the at the top of the west if Westbrook is healthy and playing at an all-star level. Led by Scott Brooks this Thunder team is well coached and will be more disciplined than last season. If all goes well for Westbrook coming off of his injury, the Thunder could again be the best of the west.

Denver Nuggets

One of the biggest surprises of the year was the Denver Nuggets. However their offseason was filled with loses including the star coach George Karl. Incoming coach Brian Shaw is going to be challenged because of the new roster he is inhibiting. All star Andre Iguodala, also left going to the warriors this offseason. Point guard Ty, Lawson still will be the centerpiece to the Denver offense. Forward Kenneth Faried is only a step away from stardom and is a beast especially on the defensive side. While the belief in Denver is that they will be a contender; in reality they are one all-star away from doing so. With so much change this offseason they are one step away from being an elite team but they could surprise people again this season. Brian Shaw will need some time to be implement his strategy but will be a very successful head coach.

Minnesota Timberwolves

This could be the surprise team in the Northwest division. Ricky Rubio is now healthy and is a dynamic point guard. All-Star Kevin Love is a fantastic player that can lead an elite team. After Flip Saunders was named the newest president of the Timberwolves, he spent lot of cash in free agency including notables, Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer. These accusations added into the rotation, can significantly boost this roster. The question about the Timberwolves is their offensive production. Kevin Martin will add offensive horsepower to a lineup that Kevin Love used to burden most of the offensive load. All will depend on how Kevin Love comes back from his injury. If he returns to his all-star form, the Timberwolves will be a force to reckon with.

Portland Trailblazers

Offseason was a success for the young and upcoming Trailblazers. Led by Damien Willard, the winner of the rookie of the year award, and LaMarcus Aldridge, the Trailblazers will continue to see some improvement this season. Adding Robin Lopez is a significant upgrade at the center position. This will help increase the second chance opportunities because this team loves to shoot the three balls.  One aspect of this team that is still lacking is their defense. They might compete to be a top ten offensive, but they may have to because their defense will be lacking. Finally, one part of their team that is significantly better is their bench. Their rotation is a lot more solid and has players that can play significant minutes coming off the bench. The Trailblazers will compete but will come up a little bit short this season, but are poised to make a run in upcoming seasons.

Utah Jazz

A nice way to put it is, “rebuilding”. The Utah Jazz will be one of the worst teams in the league this season, especially in the competitive division that is the Northwest. Adding Trey Burke will help, however he will miss the beginning of the season with a finger injury. In the offseason the Jazz lost: Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, Mo Williams and Randy Foye, while adding mostly just draft picks in this year’s draft and in future drafts. This season is going to a struggle for the Jazz because of the lack of experience, and how young the team is. Hopefully in future seasons, GM Dennis Lindsey can put together a team that will compete in the west.

Predictions:

Oklahoma City: Second seed in west: lose in western conference finals.

Denver Nuggets: Six seed in west: lose in second round of playoffs.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Eighth seed in west: lose in first round of playoffs 

Portland Trail Blazers: Miss playoffs

Utah Jazz: Miss playoffs

 

All Star Lineup for the division:

G: Russell Westbrook

G: Kevin Martin

F: Kevin Durant

F: Kenneth Faried

C: Kevin Love