Divisional Outlook – The Great Northwest
Posted by r1zzo23 on September 19, 2008
The Northwest has got some intriguing stories across the division. The region (geographically) lost a team to Oklahoma City, lost the Defensive Player of the Year runner-up (who just so happened to win the award the year before) and has one of the most hyped players since Lebron back and totally recovered from a knee injury. Here’s how I think the division will shape up.
2008-2009 Record: 56-26
2007-2008 Record: 54-28
The Utah Jazz have been a staple in the playoffs under Jerry Sloan and that is certainly going to continue this year, but they will be adding another Northwest Division banner to the rafters. Deron Williams to Carlos Boozer looks like the 2nd coming of Stockton to Malone, but how much longer will this duo be together? Andrei Kirilenko will probably continue to struggle to blossom under Sloan’s system. Mehmet Okur will still be holding it down in the paint, but has got some young blood behind him in Kosta Koufos and Ante Tomic. This team should be considered a legit title contendor. If Boozer does leave after this season, it will be very interesting to see how they fill that void.
2008-2009 Record: 47-35
2007-2008 Record: 41-41
The Blazers probably have the largest bandwagon of any team in the league with Greg Oden starting his long-awaited rookie season. Team him with the likes of Brandon Roy, Lamarcus Aldridge, Rudy Fernandez and all the rest of the youngsters in Portland and this team is going to be scary in two years. Portland once again dominated the draft and managed to snag Jerryd Bayless and Nicolas Batum. Bayless should contribute immediately while Batum is a perfect player to stash overseas for a couple years. This team will make noise this season and will fight for a playoff spot in the powerful Western Conference.
2008-2009 Record: 42-40
2007-2008 Record: 50-32
So maybe it’s obvious by now that the Allen Iverson/Carmelo Anthony duo wasn’t the right move. Granted, this team has been exciting to watch, but they weren’t title contendors in the previous years and definitely aren’t now with Marcus Camby being shipped out of town for a conditional 2nd round pick next year. Their defense was atrocious before and it will be even worse (if that’s even possible) this season. The Nuggets are going to need both Nene and Kenyon Martin to be healthy all season if they even want a chance at reaching the playoffs. Also, don’t expect Allen Iverson to be back in Denver next season with his contract up at the end of this season. I’d even go out on a limb and say he’ll be gone by the trade deadline.
2008-2009 Record: 31-51
2007-2008 Record: 22-60
We just received news that Al Jefferson has a little problem with his knee, but should be ready for the season. This very young team added a grizzled veteran in Mike Miller and also a big body to play next to Jefferson in Kevin Love. Love doesn’t have the typical athleticism of an NBA player, but he has a great feel for the game and his basketball IQ is off the charts. I think there will be some growing pains with this group this year, but next year could be ready for a playoff push. Al Jefferson should be on an all-star team within the next two years as well.
2008-2009 Record: 20-62
2007-2008 Record: 20-62
I tried to justify giving this team a better record. They’ve got some great young pieces to build around, but they are just too young. Kevin Durant scared me last year. He came into the league and instantly became a chucker, shooting below 40% for quite some time. I thought that this was going to be the way he played his entire career and he quickly was going to fall out of favor with many of his fans. Then he started taking better shots as well as hitting the glass and playing a little bit of defense. Durant took a huge step forward in just his rookie season and should take another big one this year. If Russell Westbrook can show he can get his teammates involved in an offense, those two will be good friends for a long time.