It’s almost tipoff time in the NBA! Over the next few days, BangtheBook will be taking a look at each division and providing a free prediction for the winner of that division. We’re switching over to the Western Conference now, and this preview will feature the Northwest Division. Odds to win division are from 5Dimes, while the season win totals listed are from BetOnline.
Oklahoma City Thunder-
Odds to win Division: -1,200
Season Win Total: 60.5
Key Losses: James Harden, Derek Fisher, Nazr Mohammed
Key Newcomers: Perry Jones III, Hasheem Thabeet, Kevin Martin
Oklahoma City is in the news right now for trading away James Harden to pick up Kevin Martin and two first-round picks. Harden was the sixth man of the year in the NBA, but this small market team couldn’t pay him enough to keep him around in the long run. Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, and Serge Ibaka are already locked up for quite a while. Martin is a real scorer who can get to the basket and knock down free throws, and if he stays healthy he’ll be a good player for Oklahoma City. The Thunder might not be the big favorites in the West anymore with the Lakers stacking up with talent, but this team will be tough to take down with their extra playoff experience.
Odds to win Division+750
Season Win Total: 51.5
Key Losses: Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington
Key Newcomers: Andre Iguodala, Evan Fournier
George Karl’s team made it really tough on the Los Angeles Lakers last year in the playoffs, and lot of experts really like this team heading into the 2012-2013 season. Iguodala gives the team another guy who can get out in the open floor, and that should be great for this system. Danilo Gallinari will need to shoot the ball better if the Nuggets are going to be a serious contender. Ty Lawson can push it as well as anyone in the NBA, and he should continue to improve. Javale McGee has been disappointing in his NBA career, but this team needs production out of him down low. Kenneth Faried is a good shot blocker, but the Nuggets need some offense from him as well.
Odds to win Division: +2,200
Season Win Total: 39
Key Losses: Michael Beasley, Wes Johnson
Key Newcomers: Brandon Roy, Andrei Kirilenko, Alexey Shved
The Timberwolves are a team to watch this year. If they can get healthy, they could surprise a lot of people. Health is definitely a major concern with Rubio, Love, and Roy. Roy is attempting a return to the NBA after retiring because of bad knees. Kirilenko could be a nice addition for the team, but they absolutely have to get Rubio back and healthy to be competitive against the best teams in the West. Minnesota should be able to score, but they need to improve on the defensive end. This team could be a big surprise, or they could fall flat on their face if they can’t stay healthy.
Portland Trail Blazers-
Odds to win Division: +2,500
Season Win Total: 33
Key Losses: Jamal Crawford, Raymond Felton
Key Newcomers: Damian Lillard, Meyers Leonard
Terry Stotts will lead the team for the first time this year. The team picked up what it believes is a franchise point guard in Damian Lillard. Lillard starred in a big way in the NBA summer league, so we will see if he can transfer that over to the regular season. LaMarcus Aldridge is a nice building block down low as well, but he’ll have to stay healthy this year. J.J. Hickson was a nice pickup during the season last year, and he’ll be counted on in a bigger role this season. Leonard is probably a long-term project down low.
Odds to win Division: +2,500
Season Win Total: 44
Key Losses: Devin Harris, CJ Miles, Raja Bell
Key Newcomers: Mo Williams, Marvin Williams, Randy Foye
With Millsap and Jefferson the Jazz have a solid frontcourt to lean on, but the question will be the backcourt. Mo Williams is the new starter at point guard, and Gordon Hayward will play beside him. Hayward improved quite a bit through the season last year, but he needs to become a more consistent scoring threat. Marvin Williams is a wild card for this team. Williams never met his potential in Atlanta, but maybe the new scenery will help him. Utah should have enough to push for a playoff spot.
Northwest Division Prediction: Oklahoma City (-1,200)
There isn’t a bad team in this division, but no one can keep up the Thunder. Oklahoma City has too much athleticism and talent for the rest of the teams in this division. Durant is still getting better, and Martin should be a nice fit. Look for the Thunder to coast to the top spot here.
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