It has been one of the craziest off-seasons in recent history and with all of the player moves some division races have some huge questions. One of those is in the Northwest where there are a full three contenders. Most online sportsbooks see last year’s third-place finisher, Utah, as the overall favorite. The Jazz added point guard Mike Conley and shooting guard Bogan Bogdanovic, which gives them the edge over Denver. Here’s our take on the odds to win the NBA Northwest Division.
The Favorite The Jazz was one of the best defensive teams in the league and got even better when they added Conley, one of the league’s better on-ball defenders at the point. Donovan Mitchell is only going to get better and Bogdanovic adds another long-range shooter to the offense.
Mitchell will play for Team USA in the 2019 World Cup while 7-foot-1-inch center Rudy Gobert, the league’s two-time defending Defensive Player of the Year, will play for France. Joe Ingles will play for Australia. A number of NBA players have turned in breakout seasons after having played in the World Cup. Just saying.
The roster is strong. The defense is outstanding. Utah is the clear favorite at -105, but not really the sexiest bet.
Say No to Thunder, T-Wolves The Thunder’s roster looks remarkably different in 2019-20 than a year ago. No more Russell Westbrook or Paul George. Sorry, but Chris Paul surrounded by Danilo Gallinari and Steven Adams just doesn’t have the ring of Northwest Division champion. Say no to Oklahoma City at +2000.
The same can be said for Minnesota (+1750) where Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins cannot carry the T-Wolves. The NBA is a guard-driven league and Minnesota just isn’t strong enough at the position yet to contend for a division title.
Look for a Nugget Last year’s Northwest Division champs, the Denver Nuggets, make for a nice bet at +125. They return leading scorer Nikola Jokic who averaged 20.1 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 7.3 assists per game. Point guard Jamal Murray (18.3 ppg) returns as do Gary Harris (12.9 ppg) and Paul Millsap (12.6 ppg, 7.2 rpg).
The Nuggets are deep and, like Utah, one of the top-10 NBA defenses in terms of opponents points scored (106.7 ppg allowed). Jokic is a star and the backcourt of Murray and Harris is good enough. They proved it last year in winning the division.
More Than a Nugget The only thing better than Murray and Harris in the backcourt in the Northwest is Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum in Portland. The pair makes quite possibly the best backcourt duo in the NBA and helped the Trail Blazers finish just a game behind Denver in the division last year.
Yes, Jusuf Nurkic is still recovering from that gruesome leg injury suffered last March, but the Trail Blazers signed 7-footer Hassan Whiteside (12.3 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 2.0 bpg) as insurance. Nurkic will likely return around the All-Star break, just in time for Portland to make a run at the division title. At a price tag of +600, it makes the Trail Blazers a very appealing wager heading into the 2019-20 season.