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NBA Northwest Division preview: Jazz is ready to hit all the right notes

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The NBA 2021-22 campaign is fast approaching. To get you ready for the upcoming season, we’ll be going over the season previews for each NBA division. Today we are focusing on the Northwest Division.

UTAH JAZZ

Review 2020-21: 52-20
Key additions: Rudy Gay, Hassan Whiteside, Eric Paschall
Main departures: Georges niang

Utah Jazz had a dominant regular season, but once again couldn’t translate it into playoff success. Ultimately, they were hit by injuries to Donovan Mitchell and Mike Conley as well as an unfavorable stylistic clash with the LA Clippers.

But whatever the reason, a group only has a certain number of chances before plans go stale, a trainer gets tapped, or a star starts having issues. wandering eyes. The Jazz need to get some playoff results this season in a bad way. Luckily for them, other contenders, including the aforementioned Clippers as well as division rivals Denver Nuggets, are expected to step back this year, paving the way for the Jazz to experience their deepest playoff run since the ’90s.

DENVER NUGGETS

Review 2020-21: 47-25
Key additions: Jeff Green, Bones Hyland
Main departures: Paul Millsap

Denver nuggets should be contenders this year. But the basketball gods care little about “should”. Sadly, the April ACL injury to Jamal Murray likely means this season will play out the same as last year, with a promising regular season campaign giving way to the Nuggets being beaten by playoff talent. Still, there are reasons for enthusiasm.

The Nuggets have extended Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon, so their window should be open for at least the next few years. And the roster has a plethora of guards, including Monté Morris, Austin Rivers and Bones Hyland, capable of replacing Murray as Nicola Jokic’s pick and roll partners for the regular season.

Unless Murray returns to form much sooner than expected, this is a sustaining year for Denver. But they will again be a serious threat to the title soon, and possibly for a long time to come.

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS

Review 2020-21: 42-30
Key additions: Larry Nance Jr., Cody Zeller
Main departures: Zach Collins, Carmelo Anthony, Enes Kanter

The Portland Trail Blazers had a decent regular season last year, although they once again suffered from injuries. But in a demoralizing first-round clash, they were completely demolished by an exhausted Nuggets team.

It’s hard to envision anything less than make or break for the Blazers this season. Despite his timid assurances to the contrary, it seems Damian Lillard’s patience with the franchise has almost had its day. Trading for Larry Nance Jr., assuming he can stay healthy, is a serious upgrade for Portland. And CJ McCollum was planning an All-Star-caliber campaign before getting injured last season.

But the Blazers will have to beat the odds if the Lillard era is to continue in Rip City.

MINNESOTA WOLVES

Review 2020-21: 23-49
Key additions: Patrick Beverley
Key departures: Juancho Hernangomez, Jarrett Culver

The Minnesota Timberwolves finished with the sixth-worst record last year and didn’t even have a first-round pick to show.

You’d be forgiven for not watching Wolves much after the all-star break, but there were some promising signs. New head coach Chris Finch was the mastermind behind some notable offensive transformations in the NBA and appears to be, finally, the Minnesota coach who could maximize Karl Anthony-Towns to that end.

Finch has now had an offseason and training camp to revise the playbook on both sides, and it looks like the plan is to emulate Nikola Jokic’s defensive missions by having KAT stand up against the actions of opposing filtering. Anthony Edwards also changed his diet and showed flashes of stardom in the process.

Their hopes of playing this year depend on their defense, and their first preseason game against the New Orleans Pelicans was encouraging.

THUNDER OF THE CITY OF OKLAHOMA

Review 2020-21: 22-50
Key additions: Josh giddey
Main departures: Al horford

The Oklahoma City Thunder are the only team in the division and one of the few in the league not to try to win this year. The Thunder will need to collect more players and hopefully the No. 1 overall pick that eluded them in the 2021 NBA Draft Lottery before they can start cashing in their treasure of first-round picks.

This year it will be about watching the aesthetic passing of Josh Giddey and how he moves from NBL competition to NBA competition and fits in alongside franchise cornerstone Shai-Gilgeous Alexander.

NORTH-WEST DIVISION FORECAST

The Utah Jazz had the points differential of a 65-game winning team last year and made no major changes. They are set up to dominate the division again this year.

Northwest Division choice: UTAH JAZZ (-278)


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