The TrailBlazers are the favorites to win the Northwest division this season, but it’s far from a certain outcome. Just a year ago, Portland was expected to be a lottery team after losing four starters, but the team overachieved, winning 44 games and beating an injury-riddled Clippers squad in the playoffs en route to a second round playoff series loss to the Warriors. Portland aggressively pursued high-priced, impact players in free agency and ended up adding Evan Turner on an expensive, four year, $70MM deal. Turner is a perplexing addition for a team that already had wing depth, but his presence should provide insurance of sorts in case of an injury. Turner will also give the team more flexibility with its line-up decisions, as Arthur Hill of Hoops Rumors writes in the team’s Offseason In Review. The Blazers’ depth should keep them from sliding too far down the standings, but they remain a strong candidate to regress.
The Thunder had the worst offseason of any team, as Eddie Scarito of Hoops Rumors details in the team’s Offseason In Review. Losing Kevin Durant hurts, but Oklahoma City’s roster is not barren. This team can easily go 10-12 players deep on most nights and Russell Westbrook shifting from running-mate to Commander In Chief with a solid supporting cast should be not only fun to watch, but also enough to keep the team in contention for the division crown.
The Wolves arguably have the best young core in all of basketball. They appear to be a year or two away from making major noise in the conference, as I discussed in the team’s Offseason In Review. However, coach/executive Tom Thibodeau is going to get the most out of this roster and if Kris Dunn is able to hit the ground running, Minnesota could exceed expectations.
Denver lurks as a potential playoff team this season. The Nuggets’ success hinges on Emmanuel Mudiay taking the next step and proving he can be a franchise point guard. The franchise is likely a season away from reaching its playoff goal, as Scarito writes in the team’s Offseason In Review. Nevertheless, this team will be frisky on a nightly basis with its depth giving opposing teams trouble.
The Jazz are in position to take a major step forward. The addition of George Hill is an underrated move and his presence, along with 35-year-old Joe Johnson and 34-year-old Boris Diaw, will provide this team with veteran leadership, as Dana Gauruder of Hoops Rumors notes in the team’s Offseason in Review. The Jazz have the talent to compete with any team in the league and they are my personal pick to win this division. Despite the injury to Gordon Hayward, I envision this team winning over 50 games and earning a top-4 seed in the Western Conference.
Do you think the Jazz will be atop this division at the end of the season or will another team take home the crown? Don’t limit yourself to a simple button click. Take to the comments section below and share your thoughts and opinions. We look forward to what you have to say!