One of the most exciting divisions in the NBA, the Northwest has three top-tier teams who battle year in and year out. They duel not only for divisional glory but for the NBA championship. New rivalries have flourished from it in recent times.
The Utah Jazz is the defending Northwest Division champion. They ended with the best record in the entire NBA. The Jazz racked up 52 wins and only 20 losses for a staggering 72% win rate.
While the best team in basketball was winning the division, another player within the Northwest was winning the MVP.
The Denver Nuggets’ C Nikola Jokic was nothing short of spectacular as he won the best individual award in the NBA. Denver won 47 games.
Dame Time is also present at the Northwest Division. PG Damian Lillard was third on the scoring list and once again guided Portland to a playoff appearance.
After these three box office franchises, we had two below-par teams. The Minnesota Timberwolves weren’t healthy. Then, the Oklahoma City Thunder went into full rebuild mode.
As said before, the Jazz ended as the best regular-season team. It was no surprise, to be honest. Even though the odds were not as high at the beginning of the season, as the season progressed, Utah looked so strong. They were unstoppable.
They had an All-Star season from SG Donovan Mitchell. Spida averaged 26.4 ppg. Their C Rudy Gobert was a wall under the rim, nobody could get past the 2x Defensive Player of the Year.
PGs Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson balled out as well. Clarkson even won the Sixth Man of the Year award. At the SF, both Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Ingles were lethal from the three-point arc. They were shocked by the LA Clippers in the playoffs.
The Nuggets had a good season. However, losing PG Jamal Murray was a huge blow. They still won lots of games, but come playoff time, he is the best compliment for the MVP Jokic. The center posted 26 points, 10.8 rebounds, and 8.3 assists.
Still, the Nuggets need to look at the positives. SF Michael Porter Jr. emerged as a top-tier scorer, averaging 19 a game while shooting 45% from three-point range.
Also, rookie PG Facundo Campazzo got to shine as his passing ability and high IQ were on full display. Their season had an abrupt end at the hands of the Western Conference champions, the Phoenix Suns.
Can we call it a disappointing season for Portland? Look, Lillard balled. Of course, he did, he is elite. His backcourt buddy, SG CJ McCollum, was a reliable source of points as well. However, it’s the same story as the last few years, the playoffs are their ceiling. It was frustrating for Lillard, who was doing heroics on the court.
Much of the blame can be bestowed upon C Jusuf Nurkic, who was manhandled by Jokic in the postseason.
Minnesota’s two best players missed a lot of the season. C Karl-Anthony Towns only played 50 games, missing 22. As for PG D’Angelo Russell, he played on 42 occasions.
The silver lining for the Timberwolves has to be what they saw from rookie SG Anthony Edwards. The Ant-Man scored 19 a game and showed glimpses of what he can be with a little more development. Still, it was a 23-49 record at the end of the season.
One game below, the OKC Thunder. PG Shai Gilgeous-Alexander was the only player to average more than 14 points. He posted 23.7 while also leading the team in assists with 5.9 per game.
There were some expectations for Luguentz Dort—the shooting guard had 14 ppg and showed some promise despite being raw.
We have two clear contenders, a team going all-in, a potential dark horse, and a rebuilding team. Let’s see how they look coming into the 2021 NBA season.
Utah and Denver will battle for the top of the division. Let’s start with the Jazz, who should just edge out the Nuggets.
They know they have a superstar in Mitchell. After that, it’s a matter of how well you can surround him. Last year, they did a great job doing so. Therefore, they brought back every important player.
Conley, Clarkson, Gobert, Bogdanovic, and Ingles are still on the roster. Add new faces like SF Rudy Gay, PF Eric Paschall, and C Hassan Whiteside, and the Jazz look like a stronger version of their 2020 side. This is frightening.
Clarkson and Mitchell carry the offensive load. Ingles and Bogdanovic are lethal weapons from the perimeter. Conley is in charge of the ball-handling and distribution. He excels in finding spaces and creating shots for his teammates.
Gay and Paschall are solid depth for the forwards. Is there a better rim-protecting duo than Gobert and Whiteside in this league? No easy lay-ups are going to be given this time.
Stepping into Utah’s heels, the Nuggets will look forward to getting the divisional title. The MVP Jokic will keep being the center—no pun intended—of this project. He can do it all.
Having Murray on the court gives him his best ally back. Not only that, but Michael Porter Jr. is on the verge of becoming a very dangerous player on offense. He has all the tools to glow. The same can be said about PF Aaron Gordon. This starting five is unreal.
The squad depth is there. Campazzo is a big-time backup. His stats are not stunning, but he knows how to play the game of basketball. The Argentinian is a brilliant passer and a defensive pest.
Austin Rivers is a guard who can play as a facilitator or scorer if needed. He had a resurgence on Denver and became an important role player for the Mile High team.
There was speculation surrounding Damian Lillard’s frustrations with Portland this offseason. No matter how good he plays, the team can’t get into the NBA Finals. He is wasting his prime for a lost cause.
As long as he and CJ McCollum are on the same team, it’s going to be a problem. Offensively, they score at will. On defense, they are seriously undersized.
The Trail Blazers lost SF Carmelo Anthony but brought in some other talent. PF Larry Nance Jr. joined the team. To popular liking, the Blazers had a step back in comparison to the last season.
The thing is, they are a small market—they don’t attract top players, and it’s probably the last effort Lillard is going to give to this franchise. The chips are in, so it’s either jackpot or goodbye.
The Timberwolves are not gathering much attention, but we are not willing to take them as a bad team just yet. Actually, it’s the other way around. Minnesota will be a lot better than last year.
Towns and Russell are back, joining forces with Edwards. That’s a potentially big three with them. Also, they have some good role players like PF Taurean Prince, SG Malik Beasley, and brought a pitbull in PG Patrick Beverley. You’re looking at a 35-to-40 win team.
The first order of business at OKC is to not win many games. You can see it in their roster. They know they have a gem in SGA. Their priorities lie in developing young players and getting a top draft pick.
Once you decide what’s your team, go around the web and shop lines to get the best lines out there. Then, take a look at the odds, that explain to you what the winnings are based on $100 bets.
A plus sign means profit on a $100 wager. A minus sign implies what you need to risk to get $100.
The handle is important. It tells you how much money is going to a certain team to win the division. If the Thunder has a 12% handle, this means 12% of all money wagered on the winner of the Northwest is coming the Thunder’s way.
Lastly, seek the percentage of bets. These tell you the number of bets, but not the amount of money, going for each team. If the Nuggets have 47% of the bets, but 32% of the handle, it means smaller bets are taken for Denver to win.
1. Go to your favorite sportsbook and log in.
2. Look for the NBA odds tab.
3. Click on ‘Team Futures’ and then the division’s tab from the drop-down menu.
4. Select the team you will bet on.
5. Place your bet from the bet slip window—usually, on the right side of the screen.