Northwest Division Edition
The 2019 NBA offseason has been one for the record books. From unexpected signings to shocking trades, it’s safe to say that the NBA has managed to captivate the sports world without even playing a single meaningful game in over a month. We have seen seven all-stars from this past season change teams. Now that things have (seemingly) calmed down, it’s time to take a look at how each team has faired this offseason.
Denver Nuggets: B
Key Additions – Jerami Grant
Key Losses – Isaiah Thomas, Trey Lyles, Tyler Lydon
Draft – Bol Bol
The Denver Nuggets spent much of last season sitting atop the Western Conference. Ultimately they went into the playoffs as the 2nd seed and lost in round two to the Trail Blazers. Jerami Grant is a great addition that will offer some much-needed versatility. If Jamal Murray can rise to an all-star level, then I expect this team to be hosting a first-round playoff series, in a stacked Western Conference, once again.
Portland Trail Blazers: C
Key Additions – Hassan Whiteside, Kent Bazemore, Marion Hezonja, Anthony Tolliver, Pau Gasol.
Key Losses – Al-Farouq Aminu, Enes Kanter, Seth Curry, Evan Turner, Maurice Harkless, Meyers Leonard.
Drafted – Nassir Little
Before last season the Trail Blazers had been knocking on the door of making a deep playoff run for quite some time. They finally broke through to the Western Conference Finals before coming up short against the Warriors in last year’s playoffs. If Hassan Whiteside feels refreshed and motivated, then there is a chance he could have a career year. Even with that I still find it difficult to imagine a world where this team improves on their results from last year. I would say a second-round exit is more likely for this team come playoff time.
Utah Jazz: A
Key Additions – Mike Conley, Bojan Bogdanovic, Ed Davis, Jeff Green, Emmanuel Mudiay.
Key Losses – Derrick Favors, Kyle Korver, Ricky Rubio.
Drafted – Jarrell Brantley, Justin Wright-Foreman, Miye Oni.
Utah is a team that always seems to be consistently good, but never viewed as a championship contender. They have finished with an above .500 record and have been the 5th seed in the Western Conference Playoffs for the past three seasons. Losing Derrick Favors this year will be a blow, but the combo of Ed Davis and Jeff Green just might be enough to get by. They have a good mix of young talent to go along with the aging Conley. I would say the window for this team, as currently constructed, will not stay open long though. They will be very much improved from a year ago and I would expect them to be aggressive around the trade deadline if they feel there is anything on the market that could help them out in a late-season playoff push.
Oklahoma City Thunder: A
Key Additions – Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari, Mike Muscala.
Key Losses – Paul George, Russel Westbrook, Jerami Grant, Markieff Morris.
Drafted – Darius Bazley
Oklahoma City fans have a lot of changes to get used to this season. Just a few short weeks ago, most people assumed seeing Russel Westbrook and Paul George back in a Thunder uniform was a guarantee. Everything changed though when Kawhi Leonard shocked the sports world and convinced the Los Angeles Clippers to give up a majority of their future building pieces to acquire Paul George. That move seemed to set in motion the decision to then trade Russel Westbrook to the Houston Rockets. Having Chris Paul on a team that is now clearly in rebuild mode does not make a ton of sense to me. I would look for CP3 to be moved at some point before the season starts or near the trade deadline. Miami and Minnesota seem to be the two most talked about landing spots for the point guard. All in all, the Thunder obtained an unprecedented 11 first-round draft picks (pick swaps included) plus a very young and talented Shae Gilgeous-Alexander. The score for this team could legitimately range from an F, for losing their two all-stars, to an A+ for the outstanding job they did at acquiring future assets.
Minnesota Timberwolves: C-
Key Additions – Treveon Graham, Jake Layman, Shabazz Napier, Noah Vonleh, Jordan Bell.
Key Losses – Taj Gibson, Tyus Jones, Cameron Reynolds, Derrick Rose, Dario Saric, Anthony Tolliver.
Drafted – Jarrett Culver, Jaylen Nolan.
Unless Andrew Wiggins finally develops into an all-star caliber player or Karl Anthony-Towns has an MVP type season, Minnesota will likely be the weak team in this division. The Timberwolves were apparently on the verge of getting D’Angelo Russel before Golden State came out of nowhere to acquire the all-star guard. In a Western Conference that seems to be completely wide open this year, I do not believe that Minnesota will be making very much noise. There has been some speculation that this team could be a landing spot for Chris Paul if he does indeed get traded from OKC. Even with that possibility I fully expect this team to finish as one of the bottom four teams in the conference.