NBA Northwest Division Preview
If you’re looking to find the team that will most likely take the Northwest Division this year, then go north by northwest to Portland and the home of the Trail Blazers. No, it won’t be easy because they’ll have to contend with the likes of the Denver Nuggets. But the Blazers do look like the team to beat.
For Portland it is simply a matter of having every aspect of play covered by their talented starters and deep bench. Upfront, LaMarcus Aldridge is a powerful presence and Brandon Roy is one of the best shooting guards in the league. Additionally, this is a towering team with excellent shot blocking skills. It’s also a fairly young, deep and resilient team that should be able to sustain itself through the long NBA season.
The Denver Nuggets have a lot going for them as well. The starting five are well rounded and can play both sides of the ball. The Nuggets are thin when it comes to bench players and this will certainly hurt them. The frontcourt is exceptional in terms of scoring and “D,” and the backcourt of Billups and J.R. Smith looks to be lights out. Coach George Karl is in his sixth season with the team and is adroit at calmly navigating the choppy waters and narrow straights of fast-paced NBA games.
It looks like a third-place finish once again for the Utah Jazz. The Jazz have one of the best frontcourts in the West and the truly gifted and skilled Deron Williams at point. Overall, they are a young team with a solid veteran presence. But they continue to have problems popping in the threes and the two guard spot is questionable. Head coach Jerry Sloan has been in the league a long time, 22 seasons with the Jazz, and will get the job done as well as it can get done with this team.
The Oklahoma City Thunder are a developing, young team with a big upside. They have talent and money galore. Although not expected to make the playoffs this year, they do have a shot at them. In order for the club to be in the post-season, some young guys and rookies will have to have big seasons. Most likely, the team will finish fourth in their division and out of the tournament mix.
The final team in the Northwest will be the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Wolves with a new GM and head coach are definitely in transition. GM Kahn has already improved the team and coach Rambis has solid basketball knowledge though little head coaching experience. Minnesota will finish in last place but things could be different next year.
Look for three teams to be in the mix at the end of the regular season: Portland, Denver and Utah. Oklahoma City may make it too.
2009-10 NBA Northwest Division Predictions
Projected Order of Finish: Click on team name for individual in-depth team outlook.