NBA Betting: Previewing The Northwest Division

The Northwest Division of the NBA is not very deep and to be brutally honest, the more interesting part of the division comes at the bottom – not the top. Basketball betting cappers know that Oklahoma City should cruise to first place, but the third through fifth spots will generate more storylines and more authentic intrigue as the season moves along. How good can Portland be? How bad will Utah be? Can Minnesota change its identity from that of a loser to a winner? Ultimately, it will be worth watching this division so that one can get a sense of how different it might be in the spring… and then 12 months from now, at the start of the 2014-2015 season.

1. Oklahoma City Thunder

Odds To Win Northwest Division:

The Thunder clearly hold all the cards in this division. No other team can match them in terms of all-court talent, depth, and quality interior size. No, Oklahoma City doesn’t necessarily match up well with other teams in the Western Conference, such as the Memphis Grizzlies or the Los Angeles Clippers, but the Thunder should vanquish their four foes in the Northwest Division. Denver is a poor man’s version of Oklahoma City, having pieces that are similar but ultimately quite inferior to the ones the Thunder possess. Ultimately, if Russell Westbrook can acquire and then maintain supreme health through the playoffs, the Thunder will just have too much quickness and shotmaking talent on the perimeter. Westbrook’s absence was felt against Memphis in the second round of the playoffs last spring. When he’s on the floor doing his normal thing, he makes it very hard for opposing defenses to devote all their attention to Kevin Durant. Westbrook is lethally quick off the dribble. He can get to the rim on a regular basis, but if defenses go out of their way to stop the drive, Westbrook can stop and pop for a 15-foot jumper that he makes with great consistency. If a defense flows to Westbrook, Durant can operate in space, and vice-versa. The Thunder might not have the best defense in the league, but with their offense, they don’t have to be a lockdown team at all times.

2. Denver Nuggets

Odds To Win Northwest Division:

The Nuggets should consider themselves fortunate if they make the playoffs this year. The Western Conference is so deep and loaded that the first six playoff spots are already spoken for. The Spurs, the Thunder, the Clippers, the Rockets, the Warriors, and the Grizzlies should snag those spots. Denver will be one of several teams fighting for the last two postseason berths in the West. The Nuggets will struggle this season in that they’re transitioning to a new coach, Brian Shaw, and have remade their roster in a few ways. Andre Iguodala is out, Nate Robinson (among others) is in. The Nuggets have to be able to play at a fast pace but not at the expense of their defense.

3. Portland Trail Blazers

Odds To Win Northwest Division:

There is some NBA betting optimism in Portland. Damian Lillard, the 2013 NBA Rookie Of The Year, returns for his second season alongside veteran LaMarcus Aldridge and the rest of a young but talented group. The seasoning this roster received in a grow-up 2012-2013 campaign could bear fruit this coming winter and spring. Portland could very realistically join Denver in getting one of the last two playoff spots in the West.

4. Utah Jazz

Odds To Win Northwest Division:

The Jazz dumped a lot of salary to clear the way for future draft picks and acquisitions. This team is starting over in a way that is not quite the same as the Boston Celtics (that’s a case of an aging dynasty being broken up), but which shares the similarity of playing for the 2014 draft lottery and setting up the long-term financial health of the organization.

5. Minnesota Timberwolves

Odds To Win Northwest Division:

This team has been too reliant on Kevin Love over the past half-decade. Love was injured last season, and the Timberwolves didn’t know what to do without him. The other four players on the court have to be able to do their fare share of work in order for this team to become a contender for a playoff spot, which it hasn’t been in recent years.

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