The NBA Season is ready to start on Christmas Day, the last couple of preseason games are being played as I write this up, and it's time for me to cater to every serious NBA fans love of season previews! The 2011 Geektastic Preview is going to be way too large for one article, so I'm dividing it up into divisions (and even so, it's going to be long, so get a cup of coffee!). I start things off today with the Northwest Division, from worst to first.
This coincides neatly with the Northwest Division Preview Podcast that I did with some fellow bloggers on the Wages of Wins today. Check that out for more of my thoughts.
Worst: The Minnesota Timberwolves
The good news is, the Timberwolves have shipped off a lot of very bad players, together with arguably the worst coach in the league. Flynn, Brewer, Hayward, Telfair and Koufos produced a combined -1.9 wins. Yes, if they just hadn't ever played, the Wolves would have probably won an extra couple of games. The bad news is that there are equally bad players left on the roster, and the additions aren't going to help much.
Not Quite as Bad: The Utah Jazz
The Jazz won't completely stink, but they have never appreciated the gem that was Kirilenko, even calling him "overpaid" at $10 million, which is ridiculous because he's always been a fantastic performer who's underpaid. Letting him go (as they are likely to do if he ever returns from Moscow) will cost them a lot of wins. They might win 30 games, but they won't make the playoffs in the West.
The Middle: The Portland Trailblaizers
The Trailblazers actually have a surprisingly good team! The real questions will be how much their old big men have left (Camby, Przybilla and...well...Oden, who's like 56 years old below the waist). It's hard to see Jamal Crawford making a significant impact, but he won't hurt the team either. They are likely a 5-6 seed in the West.
Pretty Damn Good: The Denver Nuggets
Wow. Amazing how much everyone except John Hollinger is ignoring this team. They are chalk-full of very good guards, have a great center (and a great backup center), and their only weakness is the power forward (Al Harrington) and their coach. And if Faried gets a 20-rebound game early in the season (and it looks like he's capable of it), he might just publicly shame Karl into giving him Harrington's minutes. And if that happens, look out. This team is good.
First: The Oklahoma City Thunder
Sam Presti has worked a miracle: he's assembled a roster with no truly terrible players. And even the sort-of-bad ones don't get any burn. He's got a roster full of good-to-great players, most of whom are young enough to still be improving! This team will win the West barring a major injury, but I don't think they can beat the Heat.