NBA NORTHWEST DIVISION OFFSEASON ROLL CALL

A tough division that saw the Nuggets at the top this year, there isn’t really a team devoid of talent. You could certainly say that the Timberwolves didn’t play well, but with Karl Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins, Jeff Teague, and Dario Saric, they have some talent.

You’ve got some star studded guard play with Dame Lilliard, Russell Westbrook, and Donovan Mitchell. Some stud centers in Rudy Gobert and Nikola Jokic. And one of the top 2 way players in the game today in Paul George.

But as we approach the NBA offseason, the draft, trades, free agency. What is each team working with? What is the foundation on which they’ll build their roster for next season? Lets assume that every player with a player option does exercise their option to hit free agency. Who remains? The rosters in this division are certainly fuller than the other western conference teams, leaving less room to maneuver. But lets take a look.

DENVER NUGGETS

RETURNING PLAYERS:

  • Paul Milsap
  • Nikola Jokic
  • Gary Harris
  • Mason Plumlee
  • Will Barton
  • Jamal Murray
  • Michael Porter Jr.
  • Juan Hernangomez
  • Malik Beasley
  • Torrey Craig
  • Monte Morris
  • Jarred Vanderbilt

DRAFT PICKS:

  • None

COACH:

  • Mike Malone

Tough to beat the depth that the Nuggets have. Milsap has a team option, which will likely be exercised. Harris is still a young vet who is an underrated wing. Jamal Murray should’ve just finished his senior year at Kentucky, and Michael Porter before his injuries was expected to be the #1 pick in the 2018 draft. If the year he’s taken to recover has been fruitful the Nuggets could have a star studded line up. Toss in a terrific home court advantage due to the altitude and Denver is poised to perennially contend in the Western Conference. If the young Jokic continues his ascension they could be finals bound.

Dame Lilliard Blazers

PORTLAND TRAILBLAZERS

RETURNING PLAYERS:

  • Damien Lilliard
  • CJ McCollum
  • Evan Turner
  • Jusuf Nurkic
  • Meyers Leonard
  • Maurice Harkless
  • Zach Collins
  • Skal Labissiere
  • Anfernee Simmons
  • Gary Trent Jr.

DRAFT PICKS:

  • First round pick 25

COACH:

  • Terry Stotts

The Blazers made an appearance in the Western Conference Finals. That being said, it seemed to be more a result of how the brackets turned out rather than them being a real threat to the Warriors. Dame Lilliard is a bonafide star, and CJ McCollum is criminally underrated. That being said, it feels like it may be time to break up the pair. It hasn’t really been mentioned, but If I were Portland I’d make a move for Anthony Davis with an offer centered around McCollum and Zach Collins, similar to the DeRozan/Poeltl move Toronto made. Maurice Harkless has been dripping with potential for years, but it feels like he’ll never move beyond a talented inconsistent enigma. Youngsters Anfernee Simmons and Gary Trent still have a chance to blossom.

UTAH JAZZ

RETURNING PLAYERS:

  • Rudy Gobert
  • Joe Ingles
  • Dante Exum
  • Jae Crowder
  • Donovan Mitchell
  • Grayson Allen
  • Tony Bradley
  • Derrick Favors
  • Kyle Korver
  • Raul Neto
  • Georges Niang
  • Royle O’Neale

DRAFT PICKS:

  • 1st Round Pick 23
  • 2nd Round Pick 53

COACH:

  • Quinn Snyder

Highlighted by the inside/outside pair of Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, the Jazz also have some decent complimentary pieces in Derrick Favors, Joe Ingles, and Jae Crowder. They do have 5 guys who have non-guaranteed deals; Favors, Korver, Neto, Niang, O’Neale. If the opted to release those guys before the guarantees kicked in, and renounced the rights to free agent point guard Ricky Rubio they could clear up to $45 million in cap space. An attractive chunk of change to add a third guy and complete a big three scenario. The question is, whom would take that money to head to Salt Lake City? It seems more likely that they’ll build the depth around the stars they do have. Was never a big fan of Dante Exum, it feels like they ought to have moved on from him by now, not signed him to an extension. Not a whole lot of developing talent aside from maybe Grayson Allen who was used little as a rookie.

Paul George

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER

RETURNING PLAYERS:

  • Russell Westbrook
  • Paul George
  • Steven Adams
  • Dennis Schroder
  • Andre Roberson
  • Jerami Grant
  • Patrick Patterson
  • Terrance Ferguson
  • Abdel Nader
  • Deonte Burton
  • Hamidou Diallo

DRAFT PICKS:

  • First Round Pick 21

COACH:

  • Billy Donovan

I’ve heard talk that the Thunder have a Big 3. I like Steven Adams, I really do. Tough, solid interior player. Not afraid to mix it up. A splendid head of hair. A modern day samurai. But not accomplished enough to be considered on that level. This team has two outstanding perimeter players. A tough center inside. A high level back up point guard in Schroder. But they have a glaring need in the form of perimeter shooting. The when healthy starting Off Guard, Andre Roberson, couldn’t hit the ocean from the pier when shooting. With the draft as their best avenue for improvement, look for them to target a shooter for the bench, maybe someone like Kentucky’s Tyler Herro. If not, maybe they dangle Dennis Schroder to a lead guard needy team like Chicago, Phoenix, or Orlando in the hopes of finding some perimeter shooting.

MINNESTOA TIMBERWOLVES

RETURNING PLAYERS:

  • Andrew Wiggins
  • Karl Anthony Towns
  • Jeff Teague
  • Gorgui Dieng
  • Robert Covington
  • Dario Saric
  • Josh Okongie
  • Keita Bates Diop
  • Cam Reynolds

DRAFT PICKS:

  • First Round Pick 11
  • Second Round Pick 43

COACH:

  • Ryan Saunders

Andrew Wiggins is getting paid like a max star. He scores like he is a max star. He does NOT impact the game like a max star. It feels like Wiggins thinks defense is something mythical like a unicorn or dragon, which is disappointing as physically he has the tools to be a very effective defender. Karl Anthony Towns continues to toil away, and feels like the next young start to be on the trade block once the Anthony Davis hype goes away. In fact it may behoove the T-Wolves to set themselves up as an alternative to Davis. It feels more likely though that they’ll give it a go with the current group, but giving Saunders the whole year to see what he can before blowing it up at the trade deadline, or next summer should they not get the results they want. Aside from Wiggins and KAT, they also have Jeff Teague who may be a nice trade chip. It feels like the Lakers should be targeting veterans on expiring deals this summer. That way if they are in position to sign Davis as a free agent in summer 2020, they’ll have deals coming off the books, and if they can’t, they’ll have bird rights on some quality vets. To that end a Lonzo Ball for Jeff Teague and Dario Saric deal would make some sense. Robert Covington may also be a nice trade chip for a team looking to shake things up, like Houston or OKC.

  • Written by Jason Sullivan
  • Find us on Twitter at @TopDucker or on Facebook at You’re Ducking Right

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