NBA Futures Predictions
With two of the top 5 talents in basketball, and very little competition for the top spot, the Oklahoma City Thunder appear poised to run away with the NBA’s Northwest Division.
Odds courtesy of Bovada.lv.
Oklahoma City entered last season with some injury woes, but when they were healthy, few teams could match their skill level. This season, they’ll enter with a healthy Russell Westbrook and a (mostly) healthy Kevin Durant.
That makes them very tough to bet against.
Here’s a look at which teams you should keep your handicapping eye on from the Northwest Division.
Oklahoma City Thunder (NBA Odds -500)
The biggest change in the offseason came on the bench for the Thunder, as they brought in a new head coach Billy Donovan.
It’s long felt like Donovan would never make the jump to the pro ranks and leave Gainesville, but all the talent in Oklahoma City was just too much to pass up.
Cameron Payne was added through the draft to help the team’s backcourt depth.
The team also decided to bring back Enes Kanter, even though his role figures to decline now that the team’s healthy. On that note, with Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant both ready to go, the Thunder are the clear, runaway favorites in the Southwest.
Utah Jazz (NBA Odds +1200)
The Jazz are the only team with even the slightest chance of giving the Thunder some trouble in the division. They stayed quiet through the summer months, with the big addition being Trey Lyles through the draft.
He should fit well with the team’s young core.
That young core took a big step forward last year, and should again in 2015-16. The team is on the other side of its rebuilding phase and now needs to being competing for a playoff spot.
The team is again in position to be one of the better defensive teams in basketball, thanks in large part to budding star Rudy Gobert.
Portland Trail Blazers (NBA Odds +1000)
There were few teams that endured as much roster turnover as the Blazers did this offseason, and it’s tough to argue they haven’t taken a major step backward.
When the team lost out on the LaMarcus Aldridge sweepstakes, they elected to completely overhaul the roster, implementing a youth movement around Damian Lillard.
The Western Conference is tough, and team’s that voluntarily put themselves in rebuild mode are destined for a rough time night in and night out.
It’s going to be a rough year in Portland.
Denver Nuggets (NBA Odds +1000)
It was a very quiet offseason for the Nuggets prior to Ty Lawson’s legal troubles and eventual trade. It was certainly hard for the team to get fair value for him given the circumstances, and all they could muster was a grab bag of young-ish talent.
That leaves the Nuggets in a clear rebuild – if they weren’t already in one. They’re simply not good enough to compete in the West right now.
Minnesota Timberwolves (NBA Odds +1000)
The Timberwolves have an interesting mix of young and older talent. The core of Ricky Rubio, Andrew Wiggins, and Karl-Anthony Towns figures to leave the team in good shape for many years to come.
They also traded back into the back half of the first round to grab Final Four Most Outstanding Player Tyus Jones out of Duke.
While the future may be bright in Minnesota, that doesn’t mean they’re quite ready to compete in the tough Western Conference just yet.
If the team’s talent develops the way it can, the Timberwolves will be a perennial contender, but right now, they’re likely headed for another year in the lottery.
2016 Northwest Division Prediction: Thunder -500
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