Completely Insane, slightly offensive, MEME Based Northwest Division Preview

First of all, this is the last thing I have time for right now – but being crazy prevents me from making good decisions at times. If you like MEMES but don’t get the NBA this will make little sense. If you like the NBA but don’t get MEMES this will make a bit of sense. If you like both then you’ve come to the right place. After the Jump we explore the North West Division (the only one that counts) through the lens of madness. All of this is SFW.

First Place: Oklahoma City Thunder

Normally if you make it to the Western Conference Finals the previous season, and remain mostly intact, you should be the cream of the crop of your division. Sometimes flawed teams make it to the WCF, but OKC does not appear to be one of them. I’m not a fan of the Thunder, in fact I think they are a team I don’t care for very much. Partly because I was not satisfied with what went down in Seattle, and partly because they are a good team in the same division as the Jazz. That said, they are a damn good team, and will only be better this upcoming season. Nothing can really stop them, save for – well, you know – that one thing that haven’t had to deal with yet. Over the last two seasons Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, James Harden, Thabo Sefolosha, Nick Collison, and Eric Maynor have played in 1107 of a total possible 1148 regular season games. That’s 96.4% of all possible games. The grand total of 41 missed games, when spread out over these 7 guys and two seasons, is less than 3 missed games each. The Thunder are a great young team that a lot of small market teams aspire to be like. The jerk in me can only wonder how they’d look if they had to overcome the same type of injuries that, oh, I dunno, the Portland Trailblazers (Greg Oden, Brandon Roy, Joel Przybilla), Denver Nuggets (Kenyon Martin, Nene, Carmelo Anthony), or Utah Jazz (Carlos Boozer, Andrei Kirilenko, Mehmet Okur) routinely have to deal with.

Even if one of their guys, magically, has to miss more than 3 games this year they are still placed to run away with the division by January. Which in this season means after the first 742 games in 40 nights.

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Second Place: Denver Nuggets

It only makes sense to pair the Nuggets with the Dating Site Axe Murderer. At first glance you can only hope to be terrified – however looks can be deceiving. Sure, the Nuggets have loaned some firepower to China (Wilson Chandler and J.R. Smith); however, their current roster is very well balanced. And with the majority of the guard duties (and shots) in the capable hands of Andre Miller, Ty Lawson, and Arron Afflalo – we could also say that things are also more chemically balanced in the Mile High city as well. I just hope that they finally get the ball down low to Nene more.

It pains me to admit this, but I think the Nuggets can not only be a solid playoff team in the West, they may also be a very fun one to watch. No more Melo, and a team filled with mostly character guys – if only they weren’t from Denver . . . they are easily the second best team in the division, but a few standard deviations behind an exceptional Thunder squad.

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Third Place: Portland Trail Blazers

Portland is not alone in mourning the loss of Brandon Roy. Dude was a baller, and every team would want to have a guy (or three) like him on the roster. He has retired, but the Blazers still have to move forward. They have by quickly adding Jamal Crawford – who can come off the bench and make crazy shots. Crowd favorite Wesley Matthews and the steadily improving LaMarcus Aldridge (he’s inching towards All-Star status from being All-NBA 3rd team last year) will make sure that this team is more than capable of challenging for a playoff spot. They always seem to, despite the injuries to their centers.

If I was a fantasy basketball player I would move hell and high water to get Nicolas Batum. In the real world of basketball the Blazers have him, and they are very smart to keep him and keep him happy. Dude is simply amazing and can do it all. Portland will finish the season a few games behind Denver, but still be a team no one wants to face in the playoffs.

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Lottery Place (Tie): Minnesota Timberwolves and Utah Jazz

I honestly don’t know which of these two teams is worse. They both have a lot of youth and some interesting veterans – but I just don’t know what to expect. More honestly, I don’t know when the injury bug will hit Utah and when the TWolves will start tanking. So that’s why they get a tie for last place. (Which is more accurate than saying a tie for 4th place)

Minnesota has a monopoly on point guards that is only the lesser to the LA Clippers, and they have a ton of guys who should be playing SF as well. These are great guys to have – but there is too much systematic redundancy right now to call this a balanced team. You can’t sleep on them, but an army is only as good as it’s general. And with David Kahn at the helm of this team, I don’t see them being a force this season. Or any season.

The Jazz, you know the one in Utah – not the one in Chicago or New Jersey – are a team with possibility and potential, and also one with so many questions at the same time. They are super young, but still dedicated to trying to ‘win every game’, and have said that ‘young players will have to earn it’, meaning playing time. If the best players are the younger guys then this should be no problem. But if only one or two of the young guys can crack a vet heavy rotation then do we just accept that the rest of them sink instead of swim? Utah seems to be cleaning house right now – and hopefully they’ll be more dedicated to a youth movement. So this is the "best of times" / "worst of times" situation in Jazz land. The GM and Coach want to win now and brought in a number of vets to be rotation guys, not baby sitters. And at the same time, the youth movement is inevitable and something Jazz fans will look forwards to.

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Bold Predictions:

The three teams that made the playoffs from this division last season will do so again this year. And I will go crazy this year. Or at least crazier.

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