The All-Star Break is here, so it’s time to weigh in with our thoughts on every NBA division.
The Northwest is one of the more even… if you don’t count the runaway Denver Nuggets, who are the warm favorites to win it with NBA betting markets.
We grade all five teams in the division, as all still have a chance of making the playoffs.
We fancied the Nuggets to win the NBA title, so we’re not surprised by their 41-18 record.
It might be a little better than most expected, but with the likes of Nikola Jokic, Jamal Murray, and Michael Porter Jr, there is nothing they can’t achieve.
Having a home record of 27-4 goes a long way to winning the division and they have an 11-game lead over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
Subsequently, NBA odds have trimmed their odds to win the NBA Championship. They now trade at +800, which is still a generous price for one of the better Western Conference teams.
Jokic is the clear-cut -250 favorite to win MVP, so they have the best player. Our only concern is their form during the playoffs, as it hasn’t been great in past years. However, at the halfway stage, the Nuggets are clearly the team to beat in the Northwest Division.
- Grade: A
Michael Porter Jr has given me ulcers but when he is on, it is a spectacle.
Prettiest jumper in the game. pic.twitter.com/oa78eVFNPX
— Locked On Sissy Hypnosis (41-18) (@SunshineSprkl69) February 19, 2023
The Minnesota Timberwolves are consistently a team living in limbo. They are never great but never poor, so we’re not sure what to make of them.
Given their excellent roster, consisting of Anthony Edwards, Rudy Gobert, Karl-Anthony Towns, and Mike Conley, expectations should be high.
However, at 31-30, we’re giving them just above a pass mark. They are 5-5 from their last 10 and we expect better, but they haven’t shown an ability to play better for quite some time.
Acquiring Gobert was meant to make them a force, but the problem of the outside shooting remains. They have a lot of sizes but no special talent on the wings to knock down 3-point shots.
The sportsbook is giving them no respect to win the NBA title at +20,000 and we don’t blame it.
- Grade: B-
It would be logical to grade the Oklahoma City Thunder around the same as the Timberwolves, but we’re giving them a better grade.
Expectations were lower entering the 2022/23 season, so at 28-29, they’re playing better than most had expected.
The Thunder have an excellent against-the-spread record and bettors have cashed in. They are typically underdogs, but we expect NBA picks to be featuring the Thunder a lot more in the second half of the year.
We love what Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey are doing as a combination. Gilgeous-Alexander has benefitted from the elite passing of Giddey, who has come of age.
The former Australian NBL player is becoming one of the better point guards, and although he’s not an elite scorer, his shot is improving.
The Thunder are coming along nicely and they deserve credit.
- Grade: B
Josh Giddey is averaging 16.3 points, 7.9 rebounds and 5.9 assists for the Thunder. Gilgeous-Alexander is averaging 28.9 points over the last 10 games for Oklahoma City.
— ThunderTalks ⚡ (@SSG2KYT) February 12, 2023
Despite a hot start, the Utah Jazz have come back to earth and we’re not surprised.
They are 29-31, so they’re close to posting a winning record. However, they started well and have slowly and surely come back to the pack.
They don’t have the players to make a winning run in the Northwest Division, so we expect to see them languish in the fifth and final spot when it’s all said and done.
Bookmakers have the Jazz at +50,000 to win the NBA title, and although that was never in their sights after trading away Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, being 29-31 is better than what we expected.
To their credit, they are 19-18 in the Western Conference, unlike the Thunder who are 15-17.
Because expectations couldn’t have been lower, we’re happy to give a B- rating.
- Grade: B-
There is little separating the Timberwolves and Portland Trail Blazers. With only three wins between them, the Blazers still have a chance to take the second spot behind the Nuggets.
However, as it stands, their 28-30 record isn’t good enough. Damian Lillard is doing what he can with 31.4 points per game, but he doesn’t have quality players around him, especially not enough to win in the playoffs.
Making the playoffs is in danger and being 5-8 in the Northwest Division isn’t going to cut it, especially given that they play the Timberwolves, Thunder, and Jazz.
Any more disappointments and Lillard could go on his way out, because everyone gets sick of losing, no matter how loyal.
- Grade: C