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Durant, Thunder Look To Bounce Back In Northwest Division This Season

Posted by Craig Parsons on 2/11/2014 2:06:27 AM

It may still be too early to say for sure, but the Oklahoma City Thunder may forever be linked to their decision to part ways with James Harden and send him to the Houston Rockets in a package that was far less than equal for what they were trading away. There are some sports betting players that will argue they had to move Harden eventually and got the best they could for him, but the reality is Oklahoma City isn’t as good now as they were when they went to the NBA Finals a couple of years ago, and they could have a tough time coming out on top of the Northwest division this season.

Oklahoma City Thunder

The return of Russell Westbrook will make this team much stronger as he works with Kevin Durant as one of the most talented backcourt tandems in the game, and the Thunder are banking on that being enough to win the division. Oklahoma City said goodbye to Kevin Martin in the offseason, and is still waiting on Jeremy Lamb to emerge as a quality contributor off the bench. Serge Ibaka continues to improve at both ends of the floor, but will need to be much better to form a big three with Durant and Westbrook. The Thunder’s depth took a hit in the offseason, but there is still enough talent there to win the Northwest division if they can stay healthy.

Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets took advantage of the best home presence in the NBA last season to shock the world and make a surprising run in the West last season, but a brutal offseason could have the team in a tough spot this year. Andre Iguodola left, and the franchise said goodbye to long time head coach George Karl. There are still some quality pieces in Ty Lawson, Kenneth Faried, and Wilson Chandler, but there is little reason to think that Denver will be able to play at such a high level again this online betting season.

Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves’ chances will rely on them staying healthy, something we haven’t seen to this point in the year. Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio both missed time last year, but if they stay healthy then this team could make some noise in the division and contend for a playoff spot. Nikola Pekovic and Kevin Martin are quality depth players that should provide a spark, but Minnesota’s success will hinge on the health of Love and Rubio.

Portland Trail Blazers

The emergence of Rookie of the Year Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge is key for this Blazers’ team, but they will also benefit from the arrival of Mo Williams from the Jazz. It will be interesting to see how CJ McCollum and Thomas Robinson figure in to the mix, and if all goes well then Portland could be among the teams competing for that final playoff spot at the end of the year.

Utah Jazz

The Jazz lost Al Jefferson, Paul Millsap, and Williams from last year’s team, and didn’t do much to replace them in free agency. That leaves Utah with one of the younger and more inexperienced teams, and that won’t help in a division that appears to be loaded this online sports betting season.

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