2012 NBA Off Season Recap: Northwest Division

The free agency season is winding down. There are some stragglers that still need to find teams, and some guys who might be traded, but for the most part teams are done making big additions and subtractions to their roster. So I have a six part series discussing and examining each division, with rankings of how I think the teams would finish if the season started today. These aren't my predictions, as I will put more time and effort into that this fall. Also, some throwback logos for your enjoyment.

1. Oklahoma City Thunder

C - Kendrick Perkins, Cole Aldrich, Hasheem Thabeet
PF - Serge Ibaka, Nick Collison, Perry Jones
SF - Kevin Durant, Daequan Cook, Lazar Hayward, Hollis Thompson
SG - Thabo Sefolosha, James Harden
PG - Russell Westbrook, Eric Maynor, Reggie Jackson

The Thunder were in the NBA Finals and had no free agents of note, so it is not a surprise they made very little changes. The only free agent they added was massive bust Hasheem Thabeet, who they hope will come in for 10 to 15 minutes per night and block some shots. The team added two young guys with potential in the draft in Perry Jones and Hollis Thompson, but both players will probably be glued to the bench the entire season unless some serious injuries strike. Oklahoma City will go into next year leaning on the big three of Durant, Westbrook and Harden again, with Ibaka, Perkins, Sefolosha and Maynor providing solid minutes.

2. Denver Nuggets

C - JaVale McGee, Timofey Mozgov, Kosta Koufos
PF - Kenneth Faried, Al Harrington, Anthony Randolph
SF - Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Quincy Miller
SG - Arron Aflallo, Corey Brewer, Evan Fournier
PG - Ty Lawson, Andre Miller, Julyan Stone

The Nuggets only made a couple small additions, but if their whole team can actually stay healthy, no one in the NBA is as deep as they are. They go two or three deep at every position, and have a very veteran laden bench with Miller, Brewer, Chandler and Harrington. The team brought in Anthony Randolph as a low risk project. The big man has put up some eye popping stats whenever he has gotten a chance to play, but is still trying to figure the NBA out. Evan Fournier and Quincy Miller are two very talented, but very young wing players, and neither guy is expected to play much this season. Andre Miller passed up chances to start elsewhere and will resume his role as one of the best backup point guards in the league. Denver is hoping that this team will be deep and talented enough to make a deep playoff run.

3. Minnesota Timberwolves

C - Nikola Pekovic, Greg Stiemsma
PF - Kevin Love, Derrick Williams, Dante Cunningham
SF - Andrei Kirilenko, Chase Budinger, Robbie Hummel
SG - Brandon Roy, Luke Ridnour, Malcolm Lee
PG - Ricky Rubio, JJ Barea, Alexey Shved

David Kahn is still trying to figure out a combination that will deliver a winner in Minnesota. After wasting draft picks on guys like Wesley Johnson and Jonny Flynn with nothing to show for it, he has gone the veteran route to fill out the roster. In are Brandon Roy and Andrei Kirilenko as starters. Both guys have the recognizable name but are shells of their former selves. It will be interesting to see if either player has anything left. Chase Budinger, Greg Stiemsma and Alexey Shved were brought in for depth purposes, and Minnesota's bench looks a lot better then it did last year, considering the second overall pick in the 2011 draft will be coming off the bench as well. Rick Adelmen is a very good coach and got these guys to overachieve last year, and this team is deep enough that they could make a push towards that 8 seed.

4. Utah Jazz

 C - Al Jefferson, Enes Kanter
PF - Paul Millsap, Derrick Favors, Jeremy Evans
SF - Gordon Hayward, Marvin Williams, DeMarre Carroll
SG - Alec Burks, Randy Foye, Raja Bell, Kevin Murphy
PG - Mo Williams, Earl Watson, Jamaal Tinsley

Other then Mo Williams, the Jazz will count on the same group of players this year. Trading Devin Harris for Marvin Williams was the most baffling move of the off season to me. That trade made no sense. The Jazz have no need for an overpaid, lazy forward and traded away a decent player at a premium position. They could have gotten more for Harris. Utah will hope to compete for a playoff spot behind offensive forwards Jefferson and Millsap, and continued development from Burks, Hayward, Favors and Kanter. I think this team has some talent but I just don't like how it is constructed. Neither Jefferson or Millsap are able to stop the best big men in the league on defense, and they are impeding the development of Kanter and Favors, who deserve starting spots by now. I think the Jazz will definitely struggle to return to the playoffs in 2012-2013.

5. Portland Trail Blazers

C - JJ Hickson, Meyers Leonard
PF - LaMarcus Aldridge, Joel Freeland, Jared Jeffries
SF - Nicolas Batum, Victor Claver, Luke Babbitt
SG - Wesley Matthews, Sasha Pavlovic, Elliot Williams, Will Barton
PG - Damian Lillard, Nolan Smith, Ronnie Price

Things came crashing down in Portland last season and the team faces a long rebuilding project. LaMarcus Aldridge is an All Star caliber big man and the type of player you would want to build around. Nicolas Batum is a good role player who is now pretty overpaid thanks to the Timberwolves. Portland will rely on fringe starters JJ Hickson and Wesley Matthews to help hold down the fort. Meyers Leonard and Damian Lillard are the teams two lottery picks this year. Lillard showed the same thing during the Summer League that he showed in college and workouts. That he is a tremendous scorer. He could average 20 points per game in a few years, but will never be a big time distributor. Which is okay because the Blazers are going to struggle scoring points. The bench is full of guys taken in the latter half of the first round who have not shown much. Portland also signed two former first round foreign guys in Victor Claver and Joel Freeland. Both will be counted on to provide production on a weak bench.

All logos courtesy of http://www.sportslogos.net/

Jonathan Carrano

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