Basketball picksOctober 27, 2009

NBA Picks Previews 2009: Northwest Division

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH

NORTHWEST
1. Portland
2. Denver
3. Utah
4. Oklahoma City
5. Minnesota 

PORTLAND
COACH: NATE McMILLAN
LAST YEAR: 54-28
BEST ADDITION: G ANDRE MILLER
BIGGEST LOSS: C/F CHANNING FRYE
 

OUTLOOK:
The Blazers turned the corner last year and are definately heading in the right direction. They return their key players, starters and bench. They have added Andre Miller who is very steady at the point, although he can’t play mega minutes anymore. Their top players are gaining experience, and getting better. If that continues, this team could advance over 55 wins this season, and at least a mild threat in the playoffs.

DENVER
COACH: GEORGE KARL
LAST YEAR: 54-28
BEST ADDITION: G TY LAWSON
BIGGEST LOSS: G DAHNTAY JONES
 

OUTLOOK:
The Nuggets made great strides last season. The offense is solid, and they get good complimentray minutes off the bench. The problem is that the playoffs are about defense, and they can only get so far with their high-octane offense. Billups had his minutes held down, and he asked for more of the same, so they need Ty Lawson to stay healthy and contribute. This looks like a 50-win team again, but may slip a few games from a year ago.

UTAH
COACH: JERRY SLOAN
LAST YEAR: 48-34
BEST ADDITION:
G ERIC MAYNOR
BIGGEST LOSS: NONE
 

OUTLOOK
The Jazz decided to stay pat and bring back the same team. There is a potential that they have issues with Carlos Boozer who swore he would opt out of his contract, but a bad market made him decide to stay. It is likely he will be traded at some point, so this is a hard team to gauge right now, depending on how hard Boozer plays, and if/when the Jazz trade him. Until then the 48 wins they put up a year ago are certainly in reach, up or down depends on Boozer, or who they get for him. Stay tuned!
 

OKLAHOMA CITY
COACH: SCOTT BROOKS
LAST YEAR: 23-59
BEST ADDITION: G JAMES HARDEN
BIGGEST LOSS: F/G DAMIEN WILKENS
 

OUTLOOK:
The Thunder have a good young core of players with Westbrook, Green and Durrant, and the addition of James Harden should help. They appear to heading in the right direction, and they just need a lot more experience. Their biggest problem is that the dropoff is severe after their core players, and the team depth definetly isn’t there, and as injuries occur, they struggle. They could make it to 30 wins this year, but they are not a playoff team yet.

MINNESOTA
COACH: KURT RAMBIS
LAST YEAR: 24-58
BEST ADDTION: G JOHNY FLYNN
BIGGEST LOSS: F/G MIKE MILLER
 

OUTLOOK:
The Timberwolves had some big draft picks and surprisingly took all guards. This roster is going to potentially have seven new players – never a good thing in the short run. The Wolves have been rebuilding since the departure of Garnett, and three years later, they seem to be starting all over again. Jeferson is back and healthy and should be good for a few wins, but this team still has a long way to go.