The Northwest Division received a kind of extreme makeover this
NBA offseason. Paul George and Carmelo Anthony join MVP Russell
Westbrook in Oklahoma City, Jimmy Butler reunites with Tom Thibodeau in
Minnesota and Paul Milsap signed with an up and coming Denver squad.
Covers Expert Steve Merril breaks down all these changes and gives his
season win total pick for each team.
Denver Nuggets (2016-17: 40-42 SU, 46-36 ATS)
Odds to Win the Division: +550
Season Win Total: 45.5
Why to Bet On The Nuggets: Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray are two good pieces to build around. Jokic had several triple-doubles last year, leading Denver with 9.8 rebounds per game and 4.9 assists. Murray may have put up just under 10 points per contest, but he played the role of point guard well. The addition of Paul Millsap solidifies the front court with Danilo Gallinari gone.
Why Not to Bet On The Nuggets: In this division you really need a true superstar to survive and Denver lacks one. The Nuggets ranked 27th in scoring defense and 29th in field-goal percentage defense last season. Michael Malone has a losing record as head coach and might not be good enough to take this team to the next level.
Season Win Total Pick: Under 45.5
Minnesota Timberwolves (2016-17: 31-51 SU, 37-44-1 ATS)
Odds to Win the Division: +250
Season Win Total: 48.5
Why to Bet On The Timberwolves: It was a great offseason for Minnesota as the team added Jimmy Butler to an already great duo of Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins. Butler brings a scoring mentality as well as someone who is willing to share the basketball. Towns averaged 25.1 points per game and 12.3 rebounds per contest last season, while Wiggins chipped in 23.6 ppg. Jamal Crawford will be a solid scorer off the bench even at the age of 37.
Why Not to Bet On The Timberwolves: It's not that easy to just add all these new pieces and have them gel right away. Going from Ricky Rubio to Jeff Teague at point guard isn't that much of an upgrade. Tom Thibodeau supposedly is a defensive coach, but it didn't show last season. The lack of a true perimeter shooter will hurt when opponents decide to collapse down low in the paint against Minnesota's athleticism.
Season Win Total Pick: Under 48.5
Oklahoma City Thunder (2016-17: 47-35 SU, 45-36-1 ATS)
Odds to Win the Division: -140
Season Win Total: 53
Why to Bet On The Thunder: Not too many teams can roll out a trio of scorers like Oklahoma City can. The late addition of Carmelo Anthony is a big help alongside Russell Westbrook and Paul George who is potentially playing for a big contract in free agency. With these stars you need solid role players and Andre Roberson and Steven Adams are two of those. Roberson is a defensive specialist, while Adams is a banger inside. The squad also has one of the strongest home courts in the league.
Why Not to Bet On The Thunder: Head coach Billy Donovan must find a way to manage all these egos in one locker room and keep everything together. Carmelo Anthony has a history of dominating the ball and that won't fly with Westbrook and George. The team's depth isn't great either and Roberson won't be able to play late in games if he continues to struggle at the free throw line. If this team starts slow, tensions might mount.
Season Win Total Pick: Over 53
Portland Trail Blazers (2016-17: 41-41 SU, 40-42 ATS)
Odds to Win the Division: +1500
Season Win Total: 42.5
Why to Bet On The Blazers: Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are an All-Star duo who can beat you driving the line and outside the arc. Jusuf Nurkic was a nice pickup after the deadline last year. He'll have help inside with rookie Gonzaga center Zach Collins. Terry Stotts is a good head coach and someone you can trust at the end of a ballgame.
Why Not to Bet On The Blazers: The roster needs depth and the team did very little this offseason. Outside of McCollum and Lillard there are very few players to trust when it comes to scoring. Evan Turner averaged just nine points per game in 2016-17 and is inconsistent. While the other teams in this division are improving, this team is standing still. They probably should have kept their three first-round draft picks, instead of trading two of them away.
Season Win Total Pick: Under 42.5
Utah Jazz (2016-17: 51-31 SU, 36-42-4 ATS)
Odds to Win the Division: +2200
Season Win Total: 40.5
Why to Bet On The Jazz: Defense will be this team's calling card now that a lot of their upper-level scoring is gone. Rudy Gobert continues to improve and he now has a better point guard in Ricky Rubio who is an upgrade over George Hill. There is also intriguing talent in Dante Exum, Rodney Hood and Donovan Mitchell. At first it seemed like an odd hire, but Quin Snyder is working well as the head coach.
Why Not to Bet On The Jazz: You do not lose the likes of Gordon Hayward and expect to have the same success. If a star player can leave the franchise, you have to wonder if others will consider doing so as well once their contracts are up. Someone will need to step up and take the big shots in close games. The Jazz do not have many snipers on the perimeter which means Utah will have to rely on their defense to win low-scoring contests.
Season Win Total Pick: Under 40.5