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NBA Northwest Division Predictions + Season Preview

2010-2011 NBA Northwest Division Predictions + Season Futures

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With regular season NBA odds just around the corner, it’s time to start handicapping the division races. Today begins with the Northwest Division, where the up-and-coming Oklahoma City Thunder are gunning for last year’s champion Denver Nuggets.

Below is a breakdown of each team in order of projected finish.

Oklahoma City Thunder

Last season: 50-32, fourth in the Northwest
betED.com odds
Northwest Division odds: N/A
NBA championship odds: +1500
Regular season wins: Over 50.5 (-115)
Player additions: G Morris Peterson, C Cole Aldrich (rookie)
Player losses: F Etan Thomas, G Mustafa Shakur

The 2009-10 Thunder might have been the best fourth-place team in NBA history. After winning 50 games last season—a 27-win improvement over the year before—Oklahoma City wound up fourth in the Northwest and eighth overall in the Western Conference.

The club returns almost exactly the same as the year before. Kevin Durant is the center piece and, after a brilliant effort last season, is ready to officially join the ranks of the NBA’s elite. He’s joined by lots of young talent, most notably Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green. Westbrook established himself as one of the NBA’s best young point guards, and he carried the team in the small, rare stretches that Durant didn’t have his A-game.

There’s nowhere to go but up for this squad. The biggest issue at hand is getting more playoff reps—something Oklahoma City will undoubtedly enjoy in 2010-11.

Portland Trailblazers

Last season: 50-32, third in the Northwest
betED.com odds
Northwest Division odds: N/A
NBA championship odds: +2500
Regular season wins: Over 49.5 (-165)
Player additions: G Wesley Matthews
Player losses: C/F Juwan Howard, F Martell Webster

Like Oklahoma City, the Trailblazers elected to keep their roster mostly unchanged. Brandon Roy is still the star scoring guard, LaMarcus Aldridge is still the talented big man, and Greg Oden is still the oft-injured bust of a draft pick.

That means, like Oklahoma City, the Trailblazers are hoping for natural progression to carry them to the next level. Unfortunately, their ceiling just isn’t as high as the Thunder. Roy and Aldridge, while both excellent players, are probably close to their peaks. Oden shows no signs of ever being healthy, let alone good.

So Portland is probably destined for another good, but not great, campaign. NBA betting fans have been waiting through a breakout effort for years, but they might have to simply acknowledge it’s never happening; the Blazers may have missed the boat, as while the Jazz and Nuggets are falling, the Thunder is rising.

Utah Jazz

Last season: 53-29, second in the Northwest

betED.com odds
Northwest Division odds: N/A
NBA championship odds: +3000
Regular season wins: Over 49.5 (+120)
Player additions: G Raja Bell, C/F Francisco Elson, G Earl Watson
Player losses: F Carlos Boozer, F/G Kyle Korver, G Wesley Matthews

Utah was hit hard in free agency by losing Boozer. The Jazz had good depth, but Boozer was the team’s leading scorer and rebounder. Utah is banking on a big contract year from Andrei Kirilenko and a comeback from Mehmet Okur, who ruptured his Achilles last year; neither is remotely a sure thing.

Deron Williams is too good to let Utah completely fall apart, but he’ll miss having Boozer on the floor. The Jazz look destined for a step back in 2010-11.

Denver Nuggets

Last season: 52-29, first in the Northwest
betED.com odds
Northwest Division odds: N/A
NBA championship odds: +3000
Regular season wins: N/A
Player additions: F Al Harrington, F/G Sheldon Williams, G Anthony Carter
Player losses: C Johan Petro, F/G Joey Graham, F Malik Allen

“Player losses” doesn’t list Carmelo Anthony’s name, but it might as well. Denver’s season is in disarray before it even started thanks to Anthony’s demands to be traded. Several trade rumors have been floated and, with the scoring guard due to opt out of his contract next summer, a deadline deal is likely.

Another offseason addition you don’t see above but should is George Karl. The head coach missed the second half of last season after being diagnosed with throat cancer, but he’s back on the bench this year. He’ll need a lot of magic to resolve the Anthony situation, though. Denver looks poised for a step back.

Minnesota Timberwolves

Last season: 15-67, fifth in the Northwest
betED.com odds
Northwest Division odds: N/A
NBA championship odds: +20000
Regular season wins: Over 22½ (-165)
Player additions: F Wesley Johnson (rookie), Darko Milicic, G Luke Ridnour, F Michael Beasley
Player losses: C Al Jefferson, F Ryan Gomes, G Delonte West

Minnesota made plenty of changes in the offseason, but the team still just isn’t very good. Sure, Beasley could resesitate his career. Maybe Milicic will finally live up to his status as a second-overall pick, and Johnson will win Rookie of the Year. But that’s all very unlikely. The Timberwolves are flat out bad and, considering the teams they’re chasing, it’s hard to believe anything but another fifth-place finish is in store.

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About Ian Van Den Hurk

Ian Van Den Hurk has covered amateur and pro sports for years, including a successful run handicapping anything from football to mixed martial arts. Looking for more sports betting tips and expert sports handicapping articles from Ian V? We've got your back...


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