The Western Conference has been the more balanced conference in basketball for the past several seasons and the Northwest Division has a variety of talented teams. The Northwest Division is surely developing into one of the tougher divisions in the league and the off-season moves made by the teams will make this upcoming season very interesting.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will certainly be the biggest competition the Lakers will face in the conference and the young nucleus will be looking to make it back to the NBA Finals. The Thunder are a very talented team and it will not be a shocker if they end up back on the league’s biggest stage. With a deep playoff run already under their belt, the Thunder will be anxious to get over the hump this season.
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The Minnesota Timberwolves are also another exciting team in the division and they will make a major push for the postseason. Although they are facing injury problems right now, the Wolves have a very talented roster full of young, exciting players.
The Denver Nuggets also made some nice additions during the off-season, highlighted by Andre Iguodala. The Nuggets pulled off a blockbuster trade with the Sixers as part of the Dwight Howard deal and they got themselves a great leader on the court. Denver was already a very explosive team, but they became even more dangerous thanks to Iguodala.
Last season, the Utah Jazz surprised many by earning the eighth seed in the Western Conference. Not many people had the Jazz making the postseason, but the fairly inexperienced squad made their way into the top 16. Although the Jazz were swept in the first round, the franchise is hoping to build on their success.
The Portland Trail Blazers will be a fun team to watch this upcoming season, but in such a tough conference, there is a good chance they miss the postseason. LaMarcus Aldridge is one of the best power forwards in the league but he does not have a lot of talent around him. There is only so much one player can do for a team, and a miracle is needed for the Blazers to make a deep playoff run.
According to the NBA general managers survey, 86.7 percent of the voters said the Oklahoma City Thunder will win the division crown, a number that probably should be higher.
Division Standings Predictions
1. Oklahoma City Thunder (55-27)
2. Denver Nuggets (48-34)
3. Minnesota Timberwolves (44-38)
4. Utah Jazz (41-41)
5. Portland Trail Blazers (35-47)
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