TRI: Northwest Division 2010-11

November 8, 2010
Truman Reed

Western Conference: Pacific | Northwest | Southwest
Eastern Conference: Atlantic |   Central   | Southeast


NORTHWEST DIVISION

Bucks.com's Truman Reed projects the standings of every division in the NBA. Teams are listed according to projected divisional finishes:


Oklahoma City Thunder 
2009-10: 50-32 (tied for third in division; lost to Los Angeles Lakers 4-2 in first round of playoffs)

For Starters: G Thabo Sefolosha (6.0 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.8 apg), G Russell Westbrook (16.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 8.0 apg), F Kevin Durant (30.1 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.8 apg), F Jeff Green (15.1 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.6 apg), C Nenad Krstic (8.4 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 0.7 apg)

In the Rotation: G James Harden, rookie C Cole Aldrich, G Daequan Cook, F Nick Collison, F Serge Ibaka, G Eric Maynor, G Morris Peterson

Pluses: C Cole Aldrich (draft, No. 11), G Morris Peterson, G Daequan Cook (trade, Heat)

Minuses: None

Truman's Take: The Thunder won 27 more games last season under NBA Coach of the Year Scott Brooks than they did the previous year, and most expect their dramatic rise to continue. They should make a push for the Western Conference Finals. Durant was named most valuable player of the World Basketball Championship over the summer after leading Team USA to the title, and he should make a serious bid for NBA MVP in his fifth pro season.


Portland Trail Blazers

2009-10: 50-32 (tied for third in division; lost to Phoenix 4-2 in first round of the playoffs)

For Starters: G Brandon Roy (21.5 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.7 apg), G Andre Miller (14.0 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 5.4 apg), F LaMarcus Aldridge (17.9 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 2.1 apg), F Nicolas Batum (10.1 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.2 apg), C Marcus Camby (7.5 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 2.0 bpg)

In the Rotation: G Rudy Fernandez, G Wesley Matthews, rookie F Luke Babbitt

Pluses: G Matthews (free agent), rookie F Babbitt (Nevada), rookie G Elliot Williams (Memphis), rookie Armon Johnson (Nevada)

Minuses: F Travis Outlaw (free agent, Nets), F Martell Webster (trade, Timberwolves)

Truman's Take: Much will be expected of Camby, who must hold down the `5' spot for the most part on his own while Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla recover from injuries that cost them most of last season. Roy and Miller make up one of the league's steadiest backcourts. The Blazers bolstered their depth with the signing of Matthews, who had an excellent rookie season with Utah last year.


Utah Jazz
2009-10: 53-29 (tied for first in division; lost to Los Angeles Lakers 4-0 in second round of playoffs)

For Starters: G Deron Williams (18.7 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 10.5 apg), G C.J. Miles (9.9 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 1.7 apg), F Paul Millsap (11.6 ppg, 6.8 rpg, 1.6 apg), F Andrei Kirilenko (11.9 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 2.7 apg), C Al Jefferson (17.1 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.3 bpg)

In the Rotation: G Raja Bell, rookie F Gordon Hayward, C Kyrylo Fesenko, G Ronnie Price

Pluses: C Jefferson (trade, Timberwolves), G Raja Bell (free agent), rookie F Gordon Hayward (Butler), rookie F Jeremy Evans (Western Kentucky), G Earl Watson (free agent)

Minuses: F Carlos Boozer (trade, Bulls), G Wesley Matthews (free agent, Trail Blazers), G Kyle Korver (free agent, Bulls)

Truman's Take: Venerable Coach Jerry Sloan must find a way to compensate for the loss of three major contributors in Boozer, Matthews and Korver. If Jefferson can regain the form he displayed before tearing an MCL during the 2008-09 campaign, it will ease the loss of Boozer to free agency. Bell, Hayward and others need to deliver and bring needed depth to Utah.


Denver Nuggets 
2009-10: 53-29 (tied for first in division; lost to Utah 4-2 in first round of playoffs)

For Starters: G Chauncey Billups (19.5 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 5.6 apg), G Arron Afflalo (8.8 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.7 apg), F Carmelo Anthony (28.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 3.2 apg), F Kenyon Martin (10 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 1.3 apg), C Nene (13.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 2.5 apg)

In the Rotation: F Al Harrington, G J.R. Smith, F/C Chris Andersen, G Ty Lawson

Pluses: F Harrington (free agent, Knicks), F Shelden Williams (free agent, Celtics), rookie F Gary Forbes (Massachusetts)

Minuses: G Joey Graham (free agent, Cavaliers)

Truman's Take: George Karl is back as head coach after winning a fourth battle with cancer. Unfortunately, he returns to find Denver's franchise player, Anthony, unhappy in the Mile High City and turning down the team's contract extension offers. The Nuggets may be forced to deal Anthony to avoid getting nothing in return when he becomes a free agent next summer.


Minnesota Timberwolves
2009-10: 15-67 (fifth in division; did not make playoffs)

For Starters: G Luke Ridnour (10.4 ppg, 1.7 rpg, 4.0 apg), G Martell Webster (9.4 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 0.8 apg), F Kevin Love (14.0 ppg, 11.0 rpg, 2.3 apg), F Michael Beasley (14.8 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.3 apg), C Darko Milicic (6.7 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 1.1 bpg)\

In the Rotation: rookie F Wesley Johnson, F/G Corey Brewer, G Jonny Flynn, G Wayne Ellington, G Sebastian Telfair, F Anthony Tolliver

Pluses: F Beasley (trade, Heat), G Ridnour (free agent), G Webster (trade, Trail Blazers), rookie F Wesley Johnson (Syracuse), rookie F Lazar Hayward (Marquette), C Kosta Koufos (free agent), F Tolliver (free agent)

Minuses: C Al Jefferson (trade, Jazz), F Ryan Gomes (trade, Trail Blazers)

Truman's Take: Flynn, a second-team all-Rookie Team selection last season, is expected to miss the first month of the season after undergoing hip surgery, so the Timberwolves were fortunate to sign former Bucks point guard Luke Ridnour. Beasley and Johnson could develop into one of the league's best young forward combos, but Minnesota will need a dramatic upgrade at the center position to escape the division cellar.