The Utah Jazz not only won the Northwest Division last season, but they also finished with the league’s best record. Prior to last season, however, the Nuggets won the division in back-to-back seasons.
With Donovan Mitchell, Rudy Gobert and Mike Conley leading the charge, the Jazz are a great bet to repeat as division champs.
Northwest Division Winner Betting Odds
- Utah Jazz: -310
- Denver Nuggets: +400
- Portland Trail Blazers: +750
- Minnesota Timberwolves: +10000
- Oklahoma City Thunder: +24000
In addition to their core group of Mitchell, Gobert and Conley, the Jazz have Bojan Bogdanovic, Jordan Clarkson, Rudy Gay, Joe Ingles and Royce O’Neale to round out their rotation.
Hassan Whiteside is also a more than capable backup to Gobert at this point of his career.
Quin Snyder has a knack for being able to get the best out of his team, so coaching won’t be an issue.
Assuming health is there for Utah, there’s no reason why they can’t repeat as division champs and find themselves back in contention for a championship.
Nikola Jokic should find himself right back in the MVP conversation mix with his scoring and playmaking skills.
Nikola Jokić plays basketball for real this week and that makes us happy ? pic.twitter.com/JQzkPkXfUd
— Denver Nuggets (@nuggets) October 17, 2021
Michael Porter Jr. could also finally take that next step into his career as a deadly scoring weapon, especially with Jamal Murray set to miss some time due to a torn ACL injury.
Aaron Gordon will have a training camp under his belt now in Denver, so with more familiarity, the Nuggets can better utilize his all-around skillset to complement the rest of the group.
New acquisition Jeff Green gives them yet another shooter out on the wings and a threat to drive to the basket when lanes open up. He should be a huge beneficiary of Jokic’s playmaking skills.
As for the rest of their group, they still have Monte Morris, Will Barton, JaMychal Green and Facundo Campazzo.
Murray’s absence could cost them a chance to win the division title, but this team will be in the mix down the stretch as a championship contender if health permits.
Mike Malone also has a great reputation as a head coach in this league, so expect him to find a way to keep Denver competitive.
Damian Lillard has decided to stick around for now, and as long as he’s there, the Trail Blazers have a chance to at least make the playoffs.
CJ McCollum continues to be a threat to score with his pull-up midrange shooting, 3-point shooting and knack to take the ball to the rim.
Jusuf Nurkic has had trouble staying healthy in recent seasons, but if he can put that behind him, then he gives the Blazers another weapon to score in the post while also providing good rebounding and playmaking skills.
Larry Nance Jr. was a great pick up for this group, as he’ll help shore up some of their defensive woes while providing a jack-of-all-trades type of player at the forward position with his shooting, passing and rebounding.
Retaining Robert Covington and Norman Powell also bodes well for this team, as Covington provides a great 3-and-D presence and Powell gives the Blazers a threat to score off the catch-and-shoot.
Big question will now be if Chauncey Billups can succeed as a first year head coach.
The Timberwolves probably aren’t ready to be considered a serious threat to win the division, but they are more than capable of being at least a play-in team this season.
Karl-Anthony Towns appears more motivated than ever to shut his critics up and prove that he is the same player who was once voted by most GMs across the league as the player they would want to build a team around before the 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons.
Scoring the ball, Towns is nearly unstoppable. If you catch him behind the arc, you can’t leave him open. He shoots close to 40% from downtown in his career. He can also put the ball on the deck and drive to the rim with reckless abandon, or if he gets to his spot on the block, he’ll put in an easy two in the post.
His playmaking has also dramatically improved since his rookie season, as he’s gotten better at passing out of double-teams, slipping the ball through cracks to find open teammates and even dazzling us with some crazy no-look passes.
Towns’ defense isn’t the greatest, but the combination of Jaden McDaniels, Jarred Vanderbilt and Naz Reid could help take some of the defensive pressure off of him.
D’Angelo Russell has looked good in the preseason, but the question with him will be health. If he can stay healthy, then he gives KAT a weapon to score off the catch-and-shoot, and D’Lo is also great at pushing the ball up tempo and pulling up at will.
Russell’s craftiness around the rim and the gravity Towns attracts down low could also give him some great looks.
Anthony Edwards could also be primed to take the next step towards superstardom, as the first pick in the 2020 NBA Draft averaged close to 20 points per game last season. His 3-point shooting needs work, but he is a threat to drive at any given moment.
Patrick Beverley will provide an immediate impact with his defense, as he’s unafraid to get into the skin of opposing players. Having that energy could rub off on the rest of the group.
Having Malik Beasley back in the fold for a full season will be extremely beneficial, as he’ll help stretch the floor for this team with his off-ball shooting and he can take matters into his own hands and create offense for himself as well.
Chris Finch has a talented young group to work with in his first full season coaching the team, and if he can get the best out of them and bring them to at least a play-in spot, he may be in contention for Coach of the Year.
Towns could also be in the MVP conversation if that were to occur.
The Thunder possess a lot of young talent, but they have no shot of winning the division let alone making the playoffs.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is a rising superstar in this league, but that’s about the only winnow talent they have.
Their primary focus should be on developing Darius Bazley, Josh Giddey and Aleksej Pokusevski this upcoming season.