The Jazz made the leap last season, winning 51 games while taking home the Northwest Division crown. After an offseason of change, a repeat is far from certain. Utah lost Gordon Hayward in free agency, something that should knock them down in the standings. Kevin Pelton of ESPN.com projects the Jazz to take home under 45 wins next season.
Pelton predicts that the Wolves will win the division after they brought in 3-time All-Star Jimmy Butler this offseason. Minnesota added several other pieces in free agency, including Jeff Teague and Taj Gibson. Pelton has the Thunder placing second in the division with his model predicting OKC takes home 49.5 wins.
The statistician has the Nuggets finishing third in the division with Utah and Portland behind them. The mathematical model gives Denver 47.2 wins which puts them third in the division and seventh in the conference. Adding a proven veteran like Paul Millsap will certainly increase a team’s chances of making the postseason, something that the franchise hasn’t done in each of the last four seasons. The addition of Millsap, along with the progression of the team’s young nucleus, should also give the team a chance to steal the division’s crown and land a top-4 seed in the Western Conference.
What do you think? Which team will win out in what should be a tight race for the Northwest Division crown? Weigh in below with your vote and jump into the comment section to share your thoughts.