This division’s foundation is ‘potential’, they could potentially have 4 playoff teams, they could potentially have 1. Young players with potential, young coaches with potential, it’s kinda wild that now the Thunder are the going to be considered the veteran team of this bunch. The Northwest is full of small market teams that have been crafted primarily through the draft and excellent management. Unfortunately that is not the formula for success in the league and never has been unless you can get as lucky as OKC did and strike gold in late June, twice (three if you count James Harden). The Northwest Division is much more compelling than it’s location and the cities these teams play for. Are the Thunder still serious championship contenders? Will the Blazers ever stay healthy? Is this a make or break season for Kevin Love? Javale McGee is more Shaq off the court than Shaq was, but will he ever meet his full potential? Do I even want to write a Utah Jazz preview?
I don’t know bruh, I just don’t know…
Still tryna figure out how Tyrone Corbin got a head coaching job in the league. Retired forwards and centers rarely get to take over the reign of a team and Ty Core was never really that ill of a player in his day to have garnered this spot in my mind. But that’s neither here nor there, the Jazz are looking worse than Eli Manning in the pocket right about now, but it’s the potential that matters, right? Right. That’s all that you can talk about when it comes to the Salt Lake City Jazz. We all rooted for Trey Burke in college but his transition to the A is going to be tough and his lack of size and elite athleticism will make it damn near impossible for him to flourish in his rookie season. Alec Burks and Gordon Hayward are good young options at the wing positions, but even the most average 2s and 3s are going to be starving to get out and play these dudes. Where the Jazz get interesting is at the 4 and 5, with Derrick Favors and E-Ness Kanter. Derrick and Ness didn’t get big minutes last year but the Jazz were so high on them that they let Big Al and Paul Millsap walk without even putting up offers to them. Both of them are walking double doubles and they’re going to play better defense than Al and Paul but I don’t think we’ll be able to sit through more than 2 quarters of a Salt Lake game this year. The Jazz have always been big trash even when they had Karl Malone and went to the Finals. They have Richard Jefferson on the bench, that tells me everything that I need to know about their season. I can’t even be optimistic with this roster and their coach 24-58.
Wasn’t nothing Jazz-y then ain’t nothing Jazz-y now.
Word to everything we gotta be the biggest Javale McGee fans but I just don’t know, I don’t know if he’s built for bodies, I don’t know if he’s the future like we say he is. Brian Shaw is treating him like Phil used to do Shaq. I watched a Nuggets preseason game and they were trying to run the offense through Biggavels and it looked like when you pick up the tall, athletic dude at the park on your team and give it to him just cuz and then you lose cuz of many things but mostly your reliance on the big. I turned it off after I saw he was 3/10 from the field, but the potential still crazier than a pretty chick that can’t dress. On the other hand the Nuggets have the most athletic front court in the league with Javale, JJ Hickson, Kenneth Faried, Wilson Chandler, hell they even got Anthony Randolph who’s real life 25 but 32 in basketball years at this point. That plays out well for new coach Brian Shaw who wants to change the climate in Denver by making them a defensive powerhouse in the offensively loaded Western Conference. Ty Lawson needs to play like an elite point guard more often and stop letting Andre Miller cook his minutes, particularly at the end of games. Nate Rob as the sixth man gives them a crazy boost off the pine and they get Gallo back at some point this season, could be good, could be bad. Denver isn’t in the upper echelon in the West as they were a year ago, they might even struggle getting into the playoffs if Shaw insists that McGee is the lightskin Divac. 43-39 hasn’t been good enough in the West to crack the top 8 in a while but the West is as weak as the Bet Hip-Hop Cyphers this year so they’ll grab that 8th seed happily.
I just hope he ‘plays’ as well on the court
Minnesota has been dead in the water for a couple of years. KG left and so did hope for the Twin Cities. An injury plagued 2012/13 season was the demise of the Wolves as Kev Love and Ricky Rubio missed almost 100 games combined for the year. If healthy Love and Rubio form a decent inside-out duo, although Love isn’t exactly a killer in the post and Rubio has never seen a shot that he particularly likes. Pekovic will take some of the interior scoring weight off of Kev in the post and will help him clear the glass as they will dominate the boards this year. Kevin Martin gives them a calm scorer who should be back around 17-20 a game now that he’s starting again. Derrick Williams remains an anomaly coming into his 3rd year in the league. Looks like he will be the starting small forward but there are a bunch of wings waiting in the wings if he doesn’t fit well in the starting 5, you have Corey Brewer, Chase Budinger, even Bazz Muhammad will get some run. I liked Gorgi Dieng at Louisville, Ronny Turiaf is a solid energy guy off the bench, and JJ Barea is a poor mans, un-athletic Nate Robinson with a ring, I don’t even know what the hell that means but I’m not really a fan of JJ’s game, his wife is ill though. There seems to be a good deal of fake hope that this is the year that the Timberwolves breakthrough but I just can’t see it. Rick Adelman is an seasoned head coach but this team doesn’t seem like they can defend and don’t have great offensive fire power especially if Rubio is still more Jason Williams than Mike Bibby. 40-42, I have them on the outside looking in this upcoming season.
2006 Miss Universe
Rip City is on it’s way back. Again, another team built primarily through the NBA Draft that is a piece or two away from being a serious contending squad. The injury to lottery scoop CJ McCollum is wack because we were ready to see him and Dame go crazy in the backcourt this season. There’s no timetable on CJ’s return but he wasn’t and isn’t going to make or break the Blazers. The engine is Lillard and the steady hand steering them for the past 4 seasons has been Lamarcus Aldridge. Humbly, this could be the best inside-outside tandem in the West this season (dependent on which Blake Griffin shows up, yes I do think Lamarcus is that much better than Blake). Portland had a solid starting 5 last season with the emergence of Nic Batum’s offense and Wes Matthews shooting ability, what they lacked was size and a bench. In comes Robin Lopez + Thomas Robinson and Mo Williams, and all that they lost was JJ Hickson. The Blazers have a team that will score and also defend relatively well. They don’t have the depth to make it past the first round of the playoffs but I think that with a year of orchestration under his belt Damian Lillard can and will get Portland into that 7th/8th seed out West with a 45-37.
We continue to search for genuine disregard of respect…
This is the year where we really start to measure KD by his post season accolades. No one really wins a championship in their 4th/5th year in the league without a ton of veteran help and leadership, all of which Durant didn’t have in the past. But this is the year we don’t want any excuses from and for Kevin. Scoring titles mean absolutely nothing if you don’t get rings to show for them, you end up like Carmelo and T-Mac. There’s been the argument presented ‘What if Kev nevers wins a chip?’ Well then he’s goes into the Barkley, Ewing, and Malone room (which is no disrespect as they’re all top 25). But Kevin is a ‘talent’ and a true ambassador to the game and kids all over love him, so he’s got a ton of weight on his shoulders to carry, and his shoulders haven’t been impressive in the past, figuratively and literally. I am putting 2010 Lebron pressure on KD, meaning that they more than likely won’t win the chip, good chance they don’t win the West but let the unrealistic expectations commence Easy Money! The Thunder doesn’t seem like the rolling thunder that makes your girl curl up under you anymore they’re looking more like the thunder that comes with Florida sun showers. Once Russ comes back, he and Kev will get back to their old ways, getting buckets, dunking on n*****, crossing ya moms and allat, they’ll even get their wins up. But that’s exactly what they’ve done for 3 going on 4 years now, where is the help? Kendrick is 29 but it feels like he’s been around since I was in diapers, as much as Serge has worked on that corner and elbow jumper, there isn’t a soul on this planet that takes his offensive game serious. What’s most intriguing about OKC is Reggie Jackson and Jeremy Lamb. If somehow, someway these two players can score consistently and be knock down shooters (probably not) then OKC becomes a dangerous team with a good chance at knocking off the Heat. But if they play like they’ve never been here before OKC is gonna struggle to even make it out of the 2nd round this season. Even with Russ out for a few weeks I got OKC going a solid 57-25, which will be enough for a top 2 seed out West and homecourt advantage through the first two rounds of the playoffs. But as I said before their Championship hopes all rest on Kevin Durant and if he can elevate his game to another level and reign Russell in some (Russ attempted the most shots in the NBA last season).
I really wouldn’t be surprised if Thabeet ends up the starting center when its all said and done
Swish Favorite: Javale McGee
Young Breakout: Derrick Favors
Rookie to Watch: CJ McCollum (when/if he returns)
Most Washed Up: Kendrick Perkins