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With Durant back, Thunder should move atop the division

Northwest Division 2015-16 Preview

POSTED: Oct 13, 2015 10:53 AM ET

By Shaun Powell

BY Shaun Powell


2014-15 Oklahoma City Thunder Top 10 Plays

Relive the top plays from the Oklahoma City Thunder's 2014-15 season!


The Oklahoma City Thunder must feel lonely in the Northwest. They're the only team not on a youth movement and realistically playing for the future. That's not so bad; with a healthy (fingers crossed) Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Wolves are playing for now. Meanwhile, Utah, Minnesota, Denver and the Blazers are squirreling away assets, with the Jazz leading the youth movement for now.


1) Thunder*
2) Jazz
3) Timberwolves
4) Nuggets
5) Trail Blazers

* Playoff team


Team on Rise: Utah Jazz -- They suffered a setback with the Dante Exum injury but Gordon Hayward could push for All-Stardom.

Team on Decline: Portland Trail Blazers -- When LaMarcus Aldridge left town, he gave the Blazers a good reason to break it apart.

Top Player: Kevin Durant -- He is rested and recovered and ready to win another MVP award.

Top Coach: Billy Donovan -- A standout coach in college, he hasn't been tested in the NBA yet. Two NCAA titles from his Florida days gives him legitimacy.

Coach on Hot Seat: None -- A pretty steady group here, although Sam Mitchell must hold it together while Flip Saunders recovers.

Top Rookie: Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves -- The No. 1 overall pick is a big man who can execute a between the legs dunk.

— Shaun Powell