On Friday, we explored whether the Clippers, Lakers, or Warriors look like the favorites to win the Pacific Division in 2019/20. However, the Pacific isn’t the only Western Conference division that figures to be hotly contested.
Over in the Northwest, four of five teams made the postseason in 2018/19, with Denver (54-28) edging out Portland (53-29), Utah (50-32), and Oklahoma City (49-33) for the division crown.
Heading into next season, the Thunder appear likely to take a step back. That’s not a certainty, since there’s still plenty of talent on the roster, but losing Paul George and Russell Westbrook will hurt. They’re a long shot to win the Northwest, and so are the Timberwolves, the only Northwest team to miss the playoffs last season. With Jimmy Butler long gone, the ’19/20 season should be a little more smooth and drama-free in Minnesota, but the team is still a ways off from legit contention.
That leaves three teams that look like strong contenders to win the division next season, led by the Nuggets. After finishing atop the Northwest this spring, the Nuggets retained all their key contributors and added a couple more intriguing pieces. Jerami Grant was acquired in a trade with Oklahoma City and projects to be a go-to frontcourt option. Denver is also optimistic that 2018 lottery pick Michael Porter will be healthy and ready to claim a spot in the rotation in his sophomore season.
Of course, in the Western Semifinals, the Nuggets fell to the Trail Blazers, who seem to be perennially underrated by oddsmakers. Portland’s over/under for the 2019/20 is just 46.5 wins, per betting site BetOnline.ag. After topping their projected win total by about 10 games last season, the Blazers will look to outperform expectations again in 2019/20, led by Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Jusuf Nurkic won’t be ready to start the season, but Portland fortified its frontcourt by adding centers Hassan Whiteside and Pau Gasol.
Meanwhile, the Jazz might have had the best offseason of any Northwest team, having acquired standout point guard Mike Conley to join Donovan Mitchell in their backcourt. With veteran role players like Ed Davis and Jeff Green joining the mix, and Mitchell expected to take another step forward, this may be the best Utah team of the last few years, and the club hasn’t won fewer than 48 games since 2015/16.
What do you think? Which team do you expect to sit atop the Northwest Division when the regular season ends? And will that team make a deep playoff run, perhaps even reaching the NBA Finals?
Vote in our poll, then head to the comment section below to share your thoughts!
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