2012-13 NBA Northwest Division Season Preview
2012-13 NBA Northwest Division Season Preview
The NBA Northwest Division is one that has completely changed over the past few seasons and is still in the process of doing so. At the top is a team full of young talented stars that give off the appearance that they aren’t going anywhere for quite some time however they have company in the form of another team with some young talent and veterans who have made a few changes and look to attempt to dethrone to Kings of the castle. These two teams should provide quite the scene for the duration of the season as they battle tooth and nail for the top spot. Meanwhile there are two other teams in the division who also have lots of young talented players as well but they just aren’t ready to reach the top of the pack yet. These two teams should be involved in a hard fought battle for third place in the division and even have an outside chance at reaching the postseason as a possible seventh or eighth seed. At the bottom of the division is a team that had all of the right players to be good for a while but due to serious injuries to some and then a complete dismantling they are a team that no longer will be able to compete and should expect a very dismal season. Yes the Northwest has it all and from greatness to disaster and everything in between and it should be a tremendous year witnessing all of these things unfold.
#5 Portland Trailblazers (20-62)
Last season: (28-38), fourth place in the division
The Portland Trailblazers are a sinking ship in the Northwest Division while all four of the other teams are continuing to rise. It's not solely their fault after all they didn't know that Greg Oden and Brandon Roy would suffer the kind of injuries which they did. However what is their fault is sending away the other good players who they had left surrounding LeMarcus Aldridge such as Gerald Wallace, Marcus Camby, Jamal Crawford and Raymond Felton late last season and during this off-season. They do however have a couple of bright spots on the roster like Nicholas Batum and the very intriguing Damion Lillard. If Aldridge stays around until Lillard can develop fully then those two could be a dominant inside-outside duo. Until that happens this team is going to be pretty bad and I don't see them winning many more than 20 games with the tough competition is this division.
#4 Minnesota Timberwolves (41-41)
The Minnesota Timberwolves have big expectations entering the 2012-13 season but unfortunately for them the regular season hasn't even begun yet and they have already been stricken with bad news. During a workout before a team practice on October 17, their All-Star and Olympian power forward Kevin Love broke two bones in his shooting hand and will be sidelined for at least the first month of the regular season. This news is compounded with the fact that their second-year point guard prodigy Ricky Rubio was already scheduled to miss the fist six weeks of the season due to recovery from his torn ACL last season. Now with their two best players out for the first part of the season the Wolves will be playing catch up for most of the year. It's time for second-year forward Derrick Williams to show and prove why he was worthy of being selected second overall all in last year's draft, if not things could get real ugly in Minnesota. The Wolves did however make some solid veteran signings such as Andrei Kirilenko, Donte Cunningham and if he has anything left in his knees Brandon Roy.
#3 Utah Jazz (41-41)
Last season: 36-30, third place in the division
The Utah Jazz have a nice blend of veteran presence and young fire power which should make them an interesting team to watch during the course of the season. The only issue with the Jazz is that they have a log jam at a couple of positions including both forward spots and the two guard position. This will create a problem with getting everyone minutes and will also force certain players to play out of position such as second-year star Gordon Hayward. Hayward has been moved to the starting shooting guard to allow him and newly acquired Marvin Williams to both play at the same time. Another issue will be finding playing time for Derrick Favors who is stuck behind Paul Millsap. One thing is for certain on this team and that is the fact that Al Jefferson will give them quality minutes every single night in both the points and rebounds categories. Veterans Mo Williams, Randy Foye and Raja Bell also give them an extra layer of toughness that will be needed for them to succeed.
#2 Denver Nuggets (52-30)
Last season: 38-28, second place in the division
The Denver Nuggets could be this season's sleeper contender; not contender to make the postseason because they'll do that easily but sleeper to legitimately contend for an NBA Championship. Their roster goes two deep at every position and not just decently two deep, I mean really, really talented two deep. Just start from the point guard position you've got Ty Lawson and Andre Miller. Then at the shooting guard there is Andre Iguodala and Corey Brewer at the three there is Danillo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler. Then at the four there is Kenneth Faried and Anthony Randolph and in the middle JaValle McGaee and Timofey Mozgov. Not too mention Kosta Koufas, Jordan Hamilton and Quincy Miller aren't anything to sneeze at either. Watch out for the Nuggets they could really do some damage this season and during the playoffs. This is McGee's year to really grow into the player he is supposed to be and shine.
#1 Oklahoma City Thunder (60-22)
Last season: (47-19), first place in the division
Last year the Oklahoma City Thunder continued their trend of improving year after year which means they only have one more step left to make. This maybe the core of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, James Harden and Serge Ibaka's last season to do take that step together as there is no guarantee that the Thunder will offer Harden the max contract it probably will take to keep him in OKC. They have an excellent chance to win it all with backup point guard and the glue of the fourth quarter lineup Eric Maynor returning from ACL surgery. Not too mention they also made a couple of solid pickups during the off-season including the steal of the draft Perry Jones III at number 28 and Hasheem Thabeat to backup Kendrick Perkins at the five. If Thabeat can pan out along with getting more development from Cole Aldrich and Reggie Jackson this Thunder team could be as dangerous as ever. We already know what Durant, Harden Westbrook and Ibaka are going to provide now just imagine what could happen if any other their even younger players could produce a standout year.