Previewing The NBA’s Northwest Division According To Bloggers | Truth About It.net

Previewing The NBA’s Northwest Division According To Bloggers

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Updated: October 22, 2008



Jeff from CelticsBlog.com is doing the grunt work to put together a comprehensive NBA preview from bloggers ’round the ‘sphere. The Atlantic Division Preview was first, the Southwest Division was second, the Central Division was third, and now the Northwest Division is out. Here are the highlights from the participating bloggers for each team, click on the blog links to see the full team preview:

Denver Nuggets

[Pickaxe and Roll]
I think there are different answers depending on whether you are talking about the goals of management or the goals of the players. Management has clearly been geared towards the future. The Camby trade revolved around future cap flexibility. They traded their first round pick for a future first round pick. Older players Camby and Najera have been sent packing in exchange for younger players. Management would never admit it, nor should they, but I do not think they expect anything other than another first round exit at best from this squad. Prediction: 47-35

[The Nugg Doctor]
The goal for this team is to not be content just making the playoffs, but to finally advance in the postseason. For five straight seasons the Nuggets have been one of only four teams in the league to make the playoffs in said consecutive years and are the only team to have not made it to the conference semis. Prediction: 44-38

Minnesota Timberwolves

[T'Wolves Blog]
I’d like to say that the playoffs are the goal for this team. I think if you went around the locker room that’s the answer that most players would give you. However, given that this team is largely the same as the squad that went 22-60 last season, that we still don’t have a true starting point guard or basically any center, and that we’re still being coached by Randy Wittman with his mind-boggling 96-192 record, I’m going to hold off on declaring Minnesota a contender for the West’s 8th seed. I’d love nothing more than to drink the McHale Kool-Aid and be preparing for a 42-40 finish, but I just can’t bring myself to it. Prediction: 33-49

[Empty The Bench]
The goal entering this season has to be locking up a low-level playoff spot, no matter how unlikely that may seem right now. If Jefferson continues his All-Star trajectory, Randy Foye finally lives up to the draft-night swap for Brandon Roy, Mike Miller thrives as a primary weapon outside, Corey Brewer emerges as an athletic defender who can run the floor, Kevin Love becomes the inside presence and passer the Wolves offense needs to outscore teams, Sebastian Telfair continues his maturation as a true backup point, Rashad McCants embraces his role of microwave off the bench, Craig Smith keeps cracking skulls in the paint, and Ryan Gomes continues to be professional and efficient beyond his years, well, then they just might have a chance……Ok, so they don’t have a chance. Prediction: 32-50

[Canis Hoopus]
OJ Mayo and a stash of contracts were traded to the Griz for Kevin Love, Mike Miller, and a serviceable 2nd string center with an expiring contract. Oh yeah, Brian Cardinal was in there too. At the time I called this deal highway robberyand I stand by that take. When it went down on draft night, Wolves fans were faced with two negative frames in which to place the trade into context: a) The team just pulled another Roy/Foye trade. b) The team that traded one of the greatest 4s of all time for Al Jefferson just picked another 4. Prediction: 36-46

Oklahoma City Thunder

[Baller Blogger]
Develop the young guys and win enough games to endear yourself to the new home crowd. Obviously, this team is not going to contend for a playoff spot. However, they should expect to win at least a handful more games than they won last year. I think they’ll be disappointed if they don’t win at least 25 games, with 30 as an outside possibility if Durant and Green both make huge improvements in their second seasons. Another thing to look for is in-season trades. GM Sam Presti has shown a pretty good mind for getting the best out of trades, and there are some solid assets here (Collison or Smith especially) who could be traded to a contender for draft picks. Prediction: 24-56

[Blue Blitz]
On the court, this team has absolutely no expectations. Almost everybody predicts them to finish dead-last in the West. Player-wise, we are looking to develop everybody. If we can find a star out of the blue, like David West was when the Hornets were here, we’d consider it a successful season. We’re not looking to put a win-loss total on the Thunder this year. We just expect them to go out there, try their hardest, and have some fun. Prediction: 17-65

[The Thunderworld]
Most people are picking them to finish last in not only the West, but the entire NBA. Most experts don’t think they’ll improve on their 20 wins from last year. But by playing good .500 ball at the Ford Center this year, they’ll be assured of 20 wins right there and then if they play decently on the road, they could be looking at a 30 win year, which would be a huge, huge boost. Look, no one gave the 2005 Hornets a prayer to compete. They won 18 games the year before and appeared to have gotten worse. But behind a bump from a rabid city and a really, really good point guard, the team challenged for a playoff spot. There’s no reason the Thunder can’t aspire to do the same. Prediction: 30-52

Portland Trailblazers

[A Stern Warning]
The Blazers do not have any illusions of grandeur in their goals for this season. The team knows that they are young and will need at least another year to bond as a unit that can even consider challenging for a title. Integrating four rookies into a squad is never an easy task, regardless of their talent levels. Last season was an unexpected surprise, as a team that was predicted to fall dismally with the l
oss of starting 20-10 player Zach Randolph and the season-ending injury to Oden, managed to pull to .500 with the second most exciting winning streak of the season (after that of the Houston Rockets). Thus this season the expectation is that the Blazers will do one better, move into the playoffs and whilst not looking to go all the way, will pick up the experience needed to take them where they want to go in future seasons. Prediction: 45-37

[Blazers Edge]
In the past month, I’ve heard the Presidential candidates debate ad naseum whether to use a “hatchet” or a “scalpel” to reform government. I think it’s safe to say that General Manager Kevin Pritchard and Assistant GM Tom Penn are scalpel-wielding roster-reformers. Every move they make is precise and accurate. Like watching a surgeon dissect a dead animal, it’s a thing of beauty. What? Prediction: 49-33

[Rip City Project]
Playoffs, playoffs, playoffs. Despite the incredibly tough state of the Western Conference – and with some teams on the decline – the Blazers goal is clearly making the leap and making the playoffs. More importantly, that’s the immediate goal the coaching staff has instilled in the players in an effort to, we would guess, curtail the championship expectations. To pull a card out of the cliché hat, if the team is playing hard and taking the long-term journey in year-to-year steps, all is well. Prediction: 46-36

Utah Jazz

[UtesFan89]
Two years ago, this team surprised (and took advantage of an easy road) and made it to the Western Conference Finals. Last year, it got a bit tougher, and they could only make it back to the Conference Semifinals. You’ve got the fact the team stood still this offseason though and you throw in the fact that so many players are potentially entering contract seasons, and it just seems like management thinks this team is perfectly built. And, as a result, the goal has to be to win the NBA Finals. No one has any idea what the team will look like at this point next season, so you can’t just say “win in the next couple years”. The team is built to win now and, if the team stays together, win in the future. Might as well start winning now though… especially with no guarantee on how long the team will actually stay together. Prediction: 58-24

[SLC Dunk]
For two years in a row now they’ve been the fourth seed in the West but have had to open on the road in Houston. They’ve been able to overcome both of those first round series, but if the Jazz are to advance deep into the playoffs, they have to have home-court advantage. They haven’t had that veteran experience yet where they can win on the road consistently. Until they do, they’ll need to play their series at the ESA. The Jazz have as much talent as any other team in the league. There is no reason that they can’t contend for the title. They have the offense, the drive, and the youth to match up against any team. But a defensive stopper would be nice. Prediction: 56-26 (prior to Williams’ injury)



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