Schedule Breakdown: Northwest Division

Learn more about each team from the five-team Northwest Division heading into the new season.
by Kyle Ramos
Writer, Digital

The 2017-18 season continues to draw closer and with many exciting encounters just on the horizon, Kings.com will be breaking down each division around the Association and take a closer look at what to watch for.

Denver Nuggets

Though Denver narrowly missed the postseason in 2016-17, their playoff potential has expanded with the offseason addition of All-Star forward Paul Millsap.

Pairing Millsap with a rising star such as Nikola Jokić and promising young guards Gary Harris and Jamal Murray could make the Nuggets a sneaky force in the Western Conference.

The Kings and Nuggets split their four games against each other last season and are set to meet four times once again in the 2017-18 campaign. During their encounters, it will be worth watching to see the front court battles between Sacramento’s unit of Skal Labissiere, Zach Randolph, Willie Cauley-Stein and Georgios Papagiannis and Denver’s Millsap and Jokić. Both squads bring a combination of experience and youth to the table, which could produce entertaining contests on each occasion.

2017-18 matchups vs Nuggets
10/21/17 @ Denver
11/21/17 vs Denver
1/6/18 vs Denver
3/11/18 @ Denver

Minnesota Timberwolves

Perhaps one of the most noteworthy roster overhauls this summer happened with Minnesota, as they acquired on of the top two-way players in Jimmy Butler to add to an quickly improving core of Karl Anthony-Towns and Andrew Wiggins.

Not to be forgotten are the additions of Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson, and Jamal Crawford who round out a squad that will likely be in the thick of the playoff picture in 2017-18.

The key for Sacramento in the upcoming four matchups with Minnesota this season will be trying to limit the tandem of Towns and Wiggins, who scored at least 15 points each in all four contests between these teams in 2016-17. With Butler now in the mix, as well, there will be an even larger burden defensively for the purple and black.

The Kings have added potential stoppers on defense, however, in rookies De’Aaron Fox and Justin Jackson along with George Hill and Randolph which could help offset the offensive firepower of the Timberwolves.


2017-18 matchups vs Timberwolves
12/14/17 @ Minnesota
2/11/18 @ Minnesota
2/26/18 vs Minnesota

Oklahoma City Thunder

With the reigning Most Valuable Player Russell Westbrook now playing alongside recently acquired Paul George, the Thunder will be a handful next season.

OKC has supplied Westbrook with an additional star that should help to fill the void left behind by Kevin Durant from the previous summer and give the Thunder a boost in their contention hopes.

Sacramento has been neck-and-neck with Oklahoma City in recent faceoffs, splitting the past six contests. These Western Conference foes are scheduled for four meetings next season.

Heading into 2017-18, the Kings will be looking to grow and develop the plethora of young talent scattered across the roster and OKC could present a valuable opportunity for De’Aaron Fox and Justin Jackson in particular to try their hand at competing with some of the NBA’s best. The Kings will also be wielding a veteran combo of George Hill and Vince Carter to their efforts to contain what has the makings of an incendiary duo.

2017-18 matchups vs Thunder
11/7/17 vs Oklahoma City
1/15/18 @ Oklahoma City
2/22/18 vs Oklahoma City
3/12/18 @ Oklahoma City

Portland Trailblazers

The Trail Blazer’s biggest threat lies in the backcourt combination of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum - who combined to average 50 points per contest last season.

Portland added some depth at their power forward and center positions through the draft, bringing in Zach Collins and Caleb Swanigan to their stable of big men. Collins, who has shown upside potential as an all-around center at Gonzaga, and Swanigan, a bruising, physical player who enjoyed a strong showing at the NBA Summer League, both have potential to generate fun matchups with Sacramento’s own core of young bigs.

Harry Giles, Labissiere, Papagiannis, and Cauley-Stein will all have chances across four games to make their mark on Portland’s front court in 2017-18.

2017-18 matchups vs Trail Blazers
11/17/17 vs Portland
11/18/17 @ Portland
2/9/18 vs Portland
2/27/18 @ Portland

Utah Jazz

Faced with the departure of franchise centerpiece Gordon Hayward as well as starting point guard George Hill, Utah is hoping newly added veteran Ricky Rubio and rookie Donovan Mitchell can help soften the blow.

Hill, who spent one season with the Jazz, will now be stepping in to run Sacramento’s offense after a strong showing in Utah where he averaged a career high 16.9 points per game along with 4.2 assists, 3.2 rebounds and an efficient shooting percentage of 40.3 from three-point range.

No. 3 will face his former squad three times in 2017-18 and to help the Kings exact revenge as Utah claimed victory in three out of the four matchups last season.

An underlying storyline for these meetings could also be if Sactown decides to push the pace. Utah’s preference for slower games showed in the numbers from last season, as they ranked last in pace - a statistic that calculates the amount of possessions by a team per 48 minutes played. With that in mind, Sacramento could look to disrupt their usual tempo with help from rookies Fox and Frank Mason III, both of whom have demonstrated their quickness and uptempo abilities in their college days.

2017-18 matchups vs Jazz
1/17/18 vs Jazz
3/3/18 vs Jazz
3/17/18 @ Jazz



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