2012-13 Northwest Division Preview
2011-12 Record & Division Standing: 47-19 (1st)
Key Off-Season Additions: Kevin Martin, Jeremey Lamb (rookie) and Hasheem Thabeet
Key Off-Season Losses: James Harden and Derek Fisher
Outlook: With the departure of James Harden, the Thunder will have to recalibrate their strategy to integrate Kevin Marin into their attack. And with another year of experience for young stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, the Thunder expect an NBA title.
On the Bright Side: They’re young, athletic, explosive and added NBA Finals experience last year.
Be Concerned: Are the Thunder good enough to get by the Lakers with Kobe/Nash/Howard? Will they be able to beat the Heat if they meet in the NBA Finals?
Key Off-Season Additions: Andre Iguodala and Anthony Randolph
Key Off-Season Losses: Aaron Afflalo, Rudy Fernandez and Al Harrington
Outlook: Exciting and primed to challenge in the West. The Nuggets have added Iguodala to a young core of Kenneth Faried, Danilo Gallinari, Ty Lawson, JaVale McGee.
On the Bright Side: They’re going to be fun to watch with explosive players at almost every position.
Be Concerned: Who’s going to lead this team- newcomer Iguodala, floor general Ty Lawson, or by committee? Athletic and explosive can translate into erratic & turnover prone.
Key Off-Season Additions: Marvin Williams, Mo Williams and Randy Foye
Key Off-Season Losses: Devin Harris, Josh Howard and C.J. Miles
Outlook: With some stability and production at the guard positions, the Jazz can make the playoffs for the second year in a row.
On the Bright Side: The Jazz have one of the more imposing frontcourts in the NBA: Derrick Favors, Al Jefferson, Enes Kanter, and Paul Millsap. Rebounding should not be a problem. The Jazz also have good depth at guard and wing positions with the additions of Foye, Marvin Williams and Mo Williams.
Be Concerned: How will the Jazz compete against teams with superstars? Uncertainty with a roster that includes: Marvin Williams, Gordon Hayward, Jeremy Evans and DeMarre Carroll. The Jazz guards- Mo Williams, Randy Foye and Hayward- are comparatively untalented compared to other playoff-bound teams.
Key Off-Season Additions: Chase Budinger, Andrei Kirilenko, Brandon Roy, Greg Stiemsma, and Alexey Shved (rookie)
Key Off-Season Losses: Michael Beasley, Darko Milicic, Wesley Johnson and Anthony Randolph
Outlook: A healthy Timberwolves team with Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Derrick Williams should be in the mix for the final playoff spot.
On the Bright Side: The Timberwolves have all-star talent in Love, Rubio and Williams and a good supporting cast in Jose Barea, Nikola Pekovic, and Luke Ridnour. Intriguing newcomers Brandon Roy, Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved make it hard to predict how high they’ll finish.
Be Concerned: The Timberwolves start the season with plenty of injury concerns. Most notably, Kevin Love will miss the first 6-8 weeks with a hand injury while Ricky Rubio recovers from a torn ACL. Not a lot of good defensive players on this roster.
2011-12 Record & Division Standing: 28-38 (4th)
Key Off-Season Additions: Damian Lillard, Jared Jeffires and Terry Stotts (head coach)
Key Off-Season Losses: Jamal Crawford, Raymond Felton and Joel Przybilla
Outlook: How far can LaMarcus Aldridge take the take Blazers and how good is Nicolas Batum?
On the Bright Side: The Blazers have a bonefide All-Star in LaMarcus Aldridge that they can build around.
Be Concerned: With the loss of Joel Pryzbilla the Blazers don’t really have a center. Will they go small with JJ Hickson? The Blazers may also have some challenges with a rookie point guard and little experience on the bench.
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