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NBA Northwest Division Predictions

Jarrett Bailey, Sports Writer

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The NBA season is in full swing so it is time to wrap up these predictions, finally, with the Northwest Division.

  1. Thunder: Last season, OKC had a down year with Kevin Durant missing the majority of the season with a leg injury, which led to them missing the playoffs. But, looking at the fact that Durant is back to bring that Westbrook-Durant tandem, perhaps the best in the game. Serge Ibaka at the 4 spot is one of the most feared shot blockers in the NBA and will make this rotation that much more intimidating. They also have a solid bench, with D.J Augustin backing up Westbrook. The Thunder are on a vengeance journey to prove they are one of the best in the NBA, and the rest of the league better be on watch.
  2. Trail Blazers: Even though the Blazers lost LaMarcus Aldridge to the Spurs, they are still a team loaded with young talent. The leader of the group is point guard Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum at the 2 spot. Rounding out the rotation are Myers Leonard, Mason Plumlee, and Al-Farouq Aminu. This team is loaded with young potential All-Stars that can carry this team back to its glory days. I love the Blazers and I think they steal a playoff pot this year.
  3. Timberwolves: Looking at the roster for the T-Wolves, they are a situation similar with the Blazers; not one superstar, but a group of good, young players who can give this team a playoff push. Ricky Rubio has been dropping jaws with dazzling ShowTime passes since Day 1 in the NBA, and last years NBA Rookie of the Year Andrew Wiggins is rising his stock as a future All-Star. Kevin Garnett made his return to Minnesota last season where he began, and we assume will end, his Hall of Fame career. One guy I really like is Karl Anthony-Towns at Center. The 2015 first overall pick out of Kentucky has had a lot of well-earned hype, and hype that fans everywhere think can be backed up by his play. The T-Wolves are in a spot where they have their foundation laid, now it is time to build on it.
  4. Nuggets: While the Nuggets lost their franchise guard in Ty Lawson, they still have a talented core of players, especially the frontcourt duo of J.J Hickson and Kenneth Faried, a duo who together are averaging almost 17 points and 14 rebounds per game. Up front, Emmanuel Mudiay and Gary Harris have a lot to prove with the departure of Lawson, but with Orlando’s all-time leader in assists Jameer Nelson making the move up north to Denver, I think he will be a guy who can be a mentor to the young guards while giving good production as well. I don’t see a playoff birth for the Nuggets, but I do see a team with young talent who can go nowhere but up.
  5. Jazz: The Jazz are a case where all of their starters are decent or good, but not great. I like Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert in the frontcourt, and their backcourt is quite interesting. Raul Neto is a guy that can be very good in the near future, and if he isn’t feeling it, he can try to get guys like 3-point general Gordan Heyward or Rodney Hood at the two involved. And, remember Trey Burke is still there at a good option off the bench who can come off and bring instant production. The Jazz are gathering their bearings, so this will be an experimental year.
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