09-10 Northwestern Division Preview
Here at HoopsVibe, we love the fact that our readers are educated and knowledgeable about basketball, even so much that they challenge many of the things said by our writers. With the NBA season starting this week and Chris Sells making predictions on the order of finish for each division, we don’t expect that to change now. Leave your own predictions in the comments section and you might just earn the right to win a prize at the end of the season. That prize will be a pat on the back. From yourself.
Kevin Love is injured. Al Jefferson is coming off an injury. Corey Brewer is coming off an injury. Ricky Rubio is still in Europe. The team sent away two key players for Rubio. They won 24 games last year and it would be a surprise if they won more this year. If Jefferson turns out to be healthy, he’s probably worth 20 and 10. Jonny Flynn should at least have an exciting game or two or ten. Love will come back and be his usual strong rebounding self. But there’s nothing really going on in Minnesota that demands your attention.
While all the rest of the West’s elite teams went out and made moves to get better, the Nuggets mostly stood pat. they lost a player here and there and re-signed one of the reason they lost to the Lakers in the Conference Finals, but the front office seems content with what they have. Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups aren’t anything to sneeze at, JR Smith and Chris Andersen are quality bench players and George Karl is a capable coach, but Denver gets left behind this season.
How good are the Blazers? The biggest knock against them is that they might have too much talent. I say there is no such thing when you have a good coach and players that truly want to win, but we’ll see how things work out. Andre Miller doesn’t really fit in, but he wasn’t the team’s first choice in free agents anyway. The battle between he and Steve Blake for the starting PG spot as the season wears on might cause problems, but otherwise Brandon Roy and Co. should be a very good team.
The Jazz were the eighth seed in the Playoffs last year. They bring back the same team they had last year with a bigger payroll. Don’t expect the results to be much different unless they get major value back for Carlos Boozer, whom they say they’ll trade if they get a good offer. Aside from that, the team could use a shooter or two that was a guard and a post player that had a game with his back to the basket. Since they don’t have that, they’ll rely on Deron Williams to work magic with the pick and roll and hope that the rest of the conference’s improvements don’t leave them on the outside looking in.
Oklahoma City Thunder
People are excited about what’s going on in OKC, and they should be. Kevin Durant is a budding star and Russell Westbrook is an explosive talent. The rst of the roster is filled with younger players that should improve with time. It’ll be interesting to see if everyone’s excitement is still there when the Thunder only have about 15 win around the All-Star break. This team’s time is coming, that time just isn’t right now. They’ll be worth watching in the meantime, though.
Projected Order of Finish
1. Portland TrailBlazers
2. Denver Nuggets
3. Utah Jazz
4. Oklahoma City Thunder
5. Minnesota Timberwolves