The Northwest Division will be heavily dominated by the Oklahoma City Thunder for many seasons. The rest of the division will battle for second place.  Two other teams can easily make the postseason.

Here’s TNPS 2012-2013 preview of the Northwest:

Denver Nuggets- Head Coach George Karl

  • 2011-12 record: 38-28 (6th seed)
  • Key additions/Signings: Andre Iguodala, Andre Miller and  Anthony Randolph
  • Draft picks: Even Fournier and Quincy Miller
  • Key losses: Al Harrington, Arron Afflalo, Chris Anderson and Rudy Fernandez

The signing of Andre Iguodala is a tremendous upgrade for Denver. And with fellow starters Ty Lawson (point guard), Danilo Gallinari (small forward), JaVale McGee (center) and Kenneth Faried (power forward), the Nuggets become formidable foes towards anyone they face. Denver has depth in every position and that may well be the difference maker for the team in the Mile-High city!

Minnesota Timberwolves- Head Coach Rick Adelman

  • 2011-12 record: 26-40
  • Key additions/Signings: Andrei Kirilenko, Brandon Roy, Chase Budinger and Dante Cunningham
  • Draft picks: None
  • Key losses: Darko Milicic, Michael Beasley and Wayne Ellington

The Minnesota Timberwolves played some inspiring basketball last season with point guard Ricky Rubio running the show. Rubio averaged 10 points, 8 assists, 2 steals and 4 rebounds a game before tearing his ACL. Kevin Love will continue to be a beast at power forward. If Brandon Roy is anything like he was at Portland, Minnesota will win some games. However this team will go as far as Rubio takes them. Hopefully they can stay respectable while he is getting back to full strength or else they will be watching the playoffs again in the spring.

Oklahoma City Thunder (Western Conference Champions)-  Head Coach Scott Brooks

  • 2011-12 record: 47-19 (2nd seed)
  • Key additions/Signings: Hasheem Thabeet and Serge Ibaka
  • Draft picks: Perry Jones
  • Key losses: Derek Fisher and Nazr Mohammed

For the past few seasons, critics labeled the Oklahoma City Thunder with an average roster age of 24.5, as too young to make it to the big dance. That was put to rest in a shorten season in the 2011-2012 campaign. Critics will now say that OKC will need to prove it in an 82-game season. Stop it! The reigning Western Conference champs are poised to contend for the NBA title for many more seasons. Three time scoring champ Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, one of the NBA’s best point guard, makes a lethal one-two combination. The only true challenge OKC has is whether they will extend the contract of reigning Sixth Man of the Year, James Harden.

Portland Trail Blazers- Head Coach Terry Stotts

  • 2011-12 record: 28-38
  • Key additions/ Signings: J.J. Hickson, Jared Jeffries, Nicolas Batum and Sasha Pavlovic
  • Draft picks: Damian Lillard, Meyers Leonard and Will Barton
  • Key losses: Jamal Crawford, Kurt Thomas, Hasheem Thabeet and Raymond Felton

Portland lacks the depth, talent and experience needed to make any kind of playoff run. All-star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge’s surroundings are not conducive to success. Rebuilding year for the Blazers.

Utah Jazz- Head Coach Tyrone Corbin

  • 2011-12 record: 36-30 (8th seed)
  • Key additions/ Signings: Jeremy Evans, Marvin Williams and Mo Williams
  • Draft picks: Kevin Murphy
  • Key losses: Devin Harris

The Utah Jazz is another team in the division with great depth in every position. They also have the size to match up with the likes of San Antonio, OKC and the Lakers. Paul Millsap is a solid power forward who can score and defend and second year power forward Derrick Favors will bring positive minutes off the bench. Mo Williams will get his chance to run the floor as a starter. Williams will always be a perimeter threat and keep opposing teams on their heels. The Jazz should make the playoffs but only as a low seed. The West is just that good.

By Keith Madyun

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