The Northwest was arguably the best division in the NBA last year, with 4 out of 5 teams making the playoffs and the 5th team just barely missing the mark. Each team is impressive, but are they as good as they were last year?
The Nuggets are getting a lot of hype this year and people are predicting them to be as high as even the 4th seed. My question is, why? What makes the Nuggets team that good? I’m not saying they’re a bad team, but they missed the playoffs last year—barely missed it, but they still missed it. Plus with LeBron in LA, that just makes it that much harder to make the playoffs for them.
The only thing that I could see making them contenders would be Isaiah Thomas and Michael Porter Jr. IT is a good player, but he’s overrated, and I don’t see him becoming the player he was in Boston again. The man doesn’t fit in the system. He’ll be a good attribute for the team but he’s way overrated. MPJ is a really good pick and a STEAL from the draft but injury is gonna limit him for this next year. I don’t see him blossoming until a few years down the road.
I don’t get the hype around Nikola Jokic, either… he’s overrated, too. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a good player but stats aren’t everything. Yeah, he can score, board, and pass the ball, but defense wise? He ain’t Rudy Gobert or Anthony Davis. He’s not as good as his stats say he is. Either way, with Jokic and Paul Millsap down low, this team has a good frontcourt.
Jamal Murray and Gary Harris are studs too and their young backcourt is lethal. Plus with good supporting pieces like Will Barton and Trey Lyles, this is a good team and for sure, they would make the playoffs in the East. BUT here in the West, the competition is too tough and just like last year, I see the Nuggets just barely missing the mark.
Prediction: 40-45 wins. Miss the playoffs.
I had high hopes for the T-Wolves last year, but they disappointed. Jimmy Butler, Karl Anthony-Towns, Andrew Wiggins, and Jeff Teague? This team looked like they were going FAR, but in the end, the chemistry wasn’t there, and they didn’t make it far. Jimmy was as good as we thought he’d be, Teague is old and washed up now, and Wiggins was a crybaby and whined because two of his teammates happened to be better than him (I don’t know about you but I would happy with two superstars on my team. That just means winning basketball, but I guess AW can do him).
Looks like Jimmy Butler is about to dip on this team, too. He recently requested to be traded and even though he didn’t fit well into the Minnesota team, losing an All-star will hurt and I think it’ll kick the Timberwolves out of the playoff conversation. Jimmy Butler or no, either way I don't see them making it.
Prediction: 35-40 wins. Miss the playoffs.
Oklahoma City Thunder
I’m gonna say the Thunder will be better this year. Losing Carmelo Anthony helps the team A LOT. Melo DID NOT fit into Billy Donovan’s system, but then again, the Billy Donovan system sucks and if the Thunder have any hope of winning the title, he can’t be in the picture.
Either way, though, the Russell Westbrook and Paul George duo is gonna be incredible. The “Big Three” of last year was a disappointment—well, more like Melo was a disappointment—but the PG and Russ were great together.
Dennis Schroder is a big win from the offseason, too. He is gonna be a great backup to Russ or however they decide to use him. I like Nerlens Noel down low, too. He’s a good addition. But the real power is Steven Adams. This man is underrated and if Russ would stop stat-padding and actually use Adams to the best of his ability, he would be a monster down low. But yeah, that’s the problem. Russ is a stat-padder and at times, it hurts his team. If he got rid of that mindset, though, the Thunder will improve.
Prediction: 50-55 wins. 5 seed.
Portland Trail Blazers
Portland was another disappointment last year. Damian Lillard (who did not deserve All-NBA First Team…) and CJ McCollum were supposed to be a crazy good backcourt duo, but they were swept in the first round of the playoffs. I think people finally realized that the Blazers need BIG changes. Whether that includes shipping Lillard or not, we don’t know yet.
The Blazers still have the skill-set to make the playoffs but I expect a first round out like last year.
Prediction: 40-45 wins. 8 seed.
The Jazz are a team to keep your eye on this year. Last year, with their All-star gone, they weren’t projected to make the playoffs, but boy did they prove everyone wrong. They finished tied for 4th in the tough West and went on an amazing win streak the last half of the season. With arguably the best defense in the league and amazing young talent in Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz will go far again this year.
I see only improvement for this team. If they play like they did post-All-star break, then they will go far, especially with the amazing chemistry this team has along with a great coach in Quin Snyder.
Prediction: 50-55 wins. 3 seed.