Season Predictions: Northwest Division Race
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  1. DHawes22
    DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 12/22/2011 3:17 PM

    Where will the Trail Blazers finish in the NorthWest Division?
    1st (36)
     30%
    2nd (75)
     62%
    3rd (6)
     5%
    4th (3)
     2%
    5th (0)
     0%


    With the season tipping off on Christmas, it's that time of the year to see who will reign supreme in the Northwest Division. Will the Thunder repeat as division champs? Can Portland or Denver challenge for first? Is this the year Minnesota finally makes it out of the cellar? And how will Utah fare in their first full season without Jerry Sloan at the helm. Who's the surprise? Who's ripe to disappoint. If you're still not sure, read what I love about each team & what worries me.



    2010-11 Record: 48-34 | Division Finish: 3rd
    Key Acquisitions: G Jamal Crawford | G Nolan Smith | G Ray Felton |F Craig Smith |F Kurt Thomas
    Key Subtractions: G Andre Miller | G Brandon Roy | G Rudy Fernandez | G Patty Mills

    What I Love: The depth. Adding Crawford, Smith, and essentially Williams (who returns from injury) to the backcourt along with Kurt Thomas and Craig Smith up front now allows Portland more versatility across the board. Now LaMarcus Aldridge won't be playing the second most minutes of all players, which should allow him to stay fresh in a shortened, compact season. Finally the Trail Blazers have a an upper-tier bench in the NBA. Crawford, Batum and Thomas give Portland an intimidating eight-man rotation and the offense will definitely not stall when they come in as it has in year's past.

    What Worries Me: Lack of size. With Greg Oden still out, the Trail Blazers are lacking true size up front. Craig Smith adds a lot of muscle but at 6-7, he still gives up a lot of inches. Chris Johnson solves the height problem, but his frame isn't suited for banging on the blocks down low. Camby is a fine veteran, starting cetner but with the season being played in such short duration, his body could wear down quicker than usual.




    2010-11 Record: 55-27 | Division Finish: 1st
    Key Acquisitions: G Reggie Jackson | F Lazar Hayward
    Key Subtractions: G Nate Robinson | F DJ White

    What I Love: Star power. To win in this league, more times than not, you need two Top 10 players on your roster who can carry you on any given night. And that is exactly what the Thunder have in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. Not to mention, third-year shooting guard James Harden is on the cusp of stardom and should finally get his shot at starting instead of his usual reserve role.

    What Worries Me: The chemistry. When you have great players, usually ego follows. There have been documentation rifts between Durant and Westbrook in the past and Russ even appeared to "freeze" KD out of a few playoff games last season against Memphis. This team will only go as far as Westbrook takes them. He has all the talent in the world, but until he can accept that he is not the Alpha Dog on that team, OKC will continue to fail to reach their potential.




    2010-11 Record: 50-32 | Division Finish: 2nd
    Key Acquisitions: G Andre Miller| G Rudy Fernandez | G Jordan Hamilton |F Kenneth Faried |F Corey Brewer | F DeMarre Carroll | C Kosta Koufos
    Key Subtractions: G Ray Felton | G JR Smith | F Renaldo Balkman | G Gary Forbes | F Kenyon Martin | F Wilson Chandler

    What I Love: All-around talent across the board. One through five, Denver has no holes. Ty Lawson and Aaron Aflalo are one of the most promising young backcourts in the entire league and Danilo Gallinari can score 30 on any given night. Re-signing Nene assures the Nuggets will stay competitive out West and adding young, rebounding machine Kenneth Faried gives them a lot of muscle down low.

    What Worries Me: Lack of star power. While the Nuggets have a lot of really good players, they don't have a single player to put the team on his back. This same problem killed Denver during last season's postseason against the Thunder. Their season hinges on one of their young studs (Gallo, Lawson, or Afflalo) taking the next step and becoming All-Star material.




    2010-11 Record: 39-43 | Division Finish: 4th
    Key Acquisitions: G Alec Burks | F Josh Howard |C Enes Kanter
    Key Subtractions: G Jamaal Tinsley| F Andrei Kirilenko | C Kyrylo Fesenko | C Francisco Elson

    What I Love: The potential. After trading away Derron Williams, Utah has gone into rebuilding mode. But they shouldn't be in the draft lottery for long as they acquired forward Derrick Favors in the Williams trade and picked up 19-year old Turkish center Enes Kanter and shooting guard Alec Burks during this past June's draft. While they have a surplus of bigs, if they play their cards right, they could add even more young talent by shipping away Jefferson or Millsap to allow Favors and Kanter to blossom.

    What Worries Me: The youth. Although their young talent has all the potential in the world, it hasn't come to fruition yet. And that means only one thing: Growing Pains.




    2010-11 Record: 17-65 | Division Finish: 5th
    Key Acquisitions: G JJ Barea | G Ricky Rubio | G Bonzi Wells |F Derrick Williams
    Key Subtractions: G Sebastian Telffair | G Jonny Flynn | F Lazar Hayward |

    What I Love: The culture change. Although Minnesota only won 17 games a year ago, you wouldn't know it by reading the clippings or listening to their fans. For the first time since Kevin Garnett was traded, there is legitimate excitement surrounding this team. And why not? Kevin Love has shed 20 lbs and extended his range out to the three-point arc. Rookies Derrick Williams and Ricky Rubio are sure to add elements to their squad which haven't been prevalent in year's past. Then there's the addition of JJ Barea who brings championship experience and a winning attitude to a team who hasn't been accustomed to winning much lately.

    What Worries Me: The youth. Love is a four-year starter but nearly every other impactful player on their roster is either a rookie or second year player. What will happen  when they start losing a bit? Will they be able mentally power through it or will their lack of experience get the best of them?


    With all of that said, how do you see the division race shaping out?
    I am a fan of
  1. Austin Martin
    Austin Martin
    Posts: 92

    Posted 12/22/2011 10:44 PM

    Assuming healthy rosters (haha) i see this coming out on paper as follows:
    OKC
    POR
    DEN
    UTA
    MIN
    I am a fan of
  1. Blazer247
    Blazer247
    Posts: 591

    Posted 12/23/2011 1:55 AM

    I think you hit the nail on the head there DHawes. I understand why people are seeing OKC as the safe bet to finish first. They have talent and star power to look like the obvious contender. But what you pointed out as the weakness - the ego factor - is gonna be amplified by the young age, as well as the short season (I think this will take more of a toll than most might think) and there's every chance they fall short... at LEAST as much of a chance as the same thing happening to us here in Portland.



    We may not have them level when it comes to the 2 single players, but between the merits and accolades of LaMarcus, Wallace, Felton, Crawford, Camby, and Thomas, combined with the youth of the rest of our squad and the hunger they bring... I see no reason why we can't have a breakout season as the young stars have a breakdown one, maybe get a little lucky after the last few years going the other direction, and there's Portland on top. Just like that
    I am a fan of BLAZER BASKETBALL. Not drafts, not business, not trades, not David Stern. Just BLAZER BASKETBALL.
  1. Tobyus Sanchezo
    Tobyus Sanchezo
    Posts: 1669

    Posted 12/23/2011 2:28 PM

    Kevin Love is the most athleticly gifted PF in the NBA. Look at those stats! Nobody's dominated the paint like that since Moses Malone! Truly I feel, that Minnesota will at least... win 20 games this season.

    Oh wait, I forgot, it's a strike shortened season. Still though, J.J. Barea and Ricky Rubio added to the Minnesota roster with the most intimidating All-Star the NBA has seen in recent memory... yah, 20 wins is still a stretch.
    I am a fan of multiple All-Stars on the Blazers roster this season!
  1. The Unholy
    The Unholy
    Posts: 352

    Posted 12/23/2011 6:02 PM

    lol i accidentally clicked 4th. the page was still loading and it glitched. ooops
    I am a fan of high octane motion offense
  1. Mark
    Mark
    Posts: 77

    Posted 12/23/2011 6:59 PM

    I think you're underestimating Minnesota, Tobyus. I wouldn't be one bit surprised if the T-Wolves end up battling Denver for that 3rd spot in our division. With that said I think our division will end up like OKC, POR, DEN, MIN, UTA.
    I am a fan of having a completely healthy team for once.
  1. mbmurr1
    mbmurr1
    Posts: 530

    Posted 12/23/2011 11:43 PM

    I think 1-OKC, 2-PDX, 3-DEN, 4-MIN, 5-UTA
    I am a fan of
  1. Herr
    Herr
    Posts: 643

    Posted 12/24/2011 12:03 PM

    I think Portland will finish 2nd.   I don't think we'll be hit hard with injuries.  The only injured active player that we have is Camby at the moment.  Other than that, we don't have many players that have ever been plagued by injuries, except Gerald Wallace but that is because Bynum is a... well.. to put it in a nice way... a butthole.

     People always considered us an injured team, but in reality, that's mainly been Camby, Joel, Greg, and Brandon.  Two of those are no longer Blazers, and Camby hasn't been out too much to be a really concerning factor.   So, in reality, the Blazers haven't been all that injured, other than players that wouldn't be getting time anyways (like E-Will, who wasn't even injured, he just had surgery).

      BUT, let's keep in mind the Thunder, in their history in OKC, haven't had any of their players have a season ending injury before the final months of the regular season.  They also have youth, and their stars are use to playing high minutes.  And, they are by far the favorites simply because the NBA overrates the hell out of them.  They'll, as usual, get calls other teams don't.  I'm not saying the refs will help them, but they have zero concern about the refs being a problem in some of their games.    I still don't see them though as the championship contender everyone puts them as.  And honestly, maybe I am biased, but I think the Blazers are a better team overall.  It's just that this league runs on starpower, since stardom is more powerful than talent in the NBA.

    So, I say either 1st or 2nd for the Blazers.  I can see both teams fighting it out for the division title.   I have Portland finishing 3rd in the West, with OKC finishing 2nd or 1st, with Dallas being the one in the middle.  Denver, Minnesota, and Utah will all miss the playoffs imo.

    I am a fan of
  1. Curvychloe
    Curvychloe
    Posts: 610

    Posted 12/24/2011 11:14 PM

    I gotta say First,cause these Boneheads in Oklahoma City haven't had any signifigant injuries in the last 2 years,I mean what are the odds of a team staying Completly healthy all the time,there luck is bound to run out sometime and when it does the Blazers are gonna be waiting like vultures to pic up the bones
    I am a fan of Sexy Blondes at courtside
  1. Tobyus Sanchezo
    Tobyus Sanchezo
    Posts: 1669

    Posted 12/26/2011 3:26 AM

    Portland

    Denver

    Utah

    Minnesota

    OKC (does so bad that the team may pack up and move back to Seattle)
    I am a fan of multiple All-Stars on the Blazers roster this season!
  1. jsizzle40
    jsizzle40
    Posts: 5

    Posted 12/26/2011 8:51 AM

    I think the race between PDX and the Thunder is going to be a lot closer than people think.  All depends on a healthy year, we are deeper and have a budding MVP in LA.  
    I am a fan of Starting out this season of redemption with a WIN
  1. rianna
    rianna
    Posts: 1

    Posted 12/26/2011 1:40 PM

    Blazers will get 1st Western Division hopefully more. It will be an entertaining year with great plays. Nate, find all your shooters and definitely need to utilize that also. Go Blazers :)!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  1. James4rcc
    James4rcc
    Posts: 5

    Posted 12/27/2011 10:47 AM

    I think it will be :
    OKC
    POR
    DEN
    MIN
    UTA
    I am a fan of
  1. DHawes22
    DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 12/27/2011 4:17 PM

    2nd. I just don't see anyone contending with the Thunder this year. I think it will be tooth and nail for the entire season for the second spot with Denver. Minnesota might actually get out of the cellar this year and finish fourth ahead of Utah!
    I am a fan of
  1. ClydeFrog
    ClydeFrog
    Posts: 975

    Posted 12/27/2011 4:23 PM

    I will say third behind the Thunder and Nuggets. I think we are a better postseason team than Denver but they are built perfectly for the regular season. Also, I have a terrible feeling Camby will be in and out of the lineup this year, causing us to get manhandled in the post. Aldridge can only do so much. If we do make a good trade for a big man, we will easily take second.
    I am a fan of Watching Elliot Williams Take Flight!
  1. BlazerBear
    BlazerBear
    Posts: 97

    Posted 12/27/2011 4:58 PM

    I went first. I think we will see Oden earlier than expected, make a great dead at the deadline and surprise the hell out of the Thunder. We have a superstar player in Aldridge and a lot of really good players surrounding him. We looked shaky last night, but I'm telling you, once we get the chemistry down, we will be a force to be reckoned with.
    I am a fan of J.J. Hickson Making SportsCenter's Top 10 Plays On A Nightly Basis!
  1. EthanMoney
    EthanMoney
    Posts: 301

    Posted 12/28/2011 12:01 PM

    Only team I worry about is OKC.
    I am a fan of
  1. commontongue
    commontongue
    Posts: 1864

    Posted 12/28/2011 1:08 PM

    As the season wears on,our shooters will settle into a rhythm. Felton,Crawford and Matthews have yet to go completely off in a game together. I like our chances against anyone in the league. That includes NY,Miami, L.A., [ both of them ] and OKC. Only one squad concerns me and thats Memphis. And while i dont wish an injury on anyone, its only a matter of time before someone on one of these so called teams gets injured. Some of them can ill afford to sustain one. K. Durant being sidelined would cripple OKC. Chris Paul injury, Clippers done. Lakers, suspect. Denver, streaky at best. Minnesota, Love's not enough. Jazz, no melody. The key for us is to play smart,and hope that the injury Gods overlook us this season. One thing is undeniable, we are a resilient squad. Big Things are Coming !!!! Rip City Baby !!!
    I am a fan of our new roster playing with and for eachother.
  1. freddead
    freddead
    Posts: 321

    Posted 12/28/2011 2:27 PM

    i said 2 but i think it'll be close at the top
    I am a fan of
  1. ClydeFrog
    ClydeFrog
    Posts: 975

    Posted 12/28/2011 10:07 PM

    It appears that Westbrook and Durant got into another argument after the conclusion of their road win in Memphis tonight. More trouble in paradise? Blazer fans should hope so, because that's one of the only ways the Thunder can crumble. 
    I am a fan of Watching Elliot Williams Take Flight!
  1. Curvychloe
    Curvychloe
    Posts: 610

    Posted 12/29/2011 12:06 AM

    This Oden cat is making me wish Sam Bowie would return
    I am a fan of Sexy Blondes at courtside
  1. D_pickett
    D_pickett
    Posts: 726

    Posted 12/30/2011 11:17 AM

    I think OKC will not only be on top of the NW, but they'll be on top of the whole West. I understand the possible chemistry issues and Westbrook's general problems. However, I still see them having the best regular season record. Their collapse, if it happens, will be under the pressure of the playoffs. That's when their weaknesses came out last year, and if they haven't solved any of the issues that's where it will happen again.
    I am a fan of
  1. D_pickett
    D_pickett
    Posts: 726

    Posted 12/30/2011 11:19 AM

    Oh... I almost forgot.

    1. OKC
    2. POR
    3. DEN
    4. MIN
    5. UTA
    I am a fan of
  1. Austin Martin
    Austin Martin
    Posts: 92

    Posted 12/30/2011 1:31 PM

    I agree that OKC have issues as far as continuity goes, but then again the Shaq era Lakers did too and look at the titles they were able to get. Really, it comes down to whether the coaching staff can keep it all coherient on the court as Phil Jackson did. I hate the Lakers, but damn Phil did a good job. Can OKC do the same? If they can, they are gonna be scary, but if they cannot then they will blow up and have to send their stars in different directions.
    (heres me hoping for the latter!)
    As is though, i see us as a top 5 team in the west and second in the NW division.
    I am a fan of
  1. DHawes22
    DHawes22
    Posts: 6488

    Posted 01/09/2012 12:33 PM

    After almost 10 games, would anyone change their prediction?
    I am a fan of
  1. Curvychloe
    Curvychloe
    Posts: 610

    Posted 01/09/2012 2:41 PM

    our division is tough,I mean alot can happen,even minnesota is a capable team with ballers. Denver is also a team to be concerned about,but I like our team, Denver and Us are teams built on teamwork and depth,I like that. OKC is totally reliant on Durant and westbrook,its nice to see a team like ours and Denver who are balanced but if Ya'll remember Our team was like at in 2000 and we got beat by a team comprised to 2 superstars and nothing else but role players,so the age old adatage still remains,superstars are needed to win titles,and we just don't have a superstar,in 2009 Roy was that guy,he was our best blazer Since Pippen,but he's gone now
    I am a fan of Sexy Blondes at courtside
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