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A look at the NBA’s Northwest Division for 2017-18 season

The Utah Jazz have been one of the most consistent franchises in the NBA, but after some playoff flops, they are now in full rebuilding mode. That means a new team will be at the top of the Northwest Division, where the Jazz have finished the last two seasons. Denver is the most obvious candidate to fill the void, but Minnesota is also vying for the top spot. Futures in the NBA Division for Matt Wiesenfeld Atlantic | Central | Southeast | Eastern Conference Northwest | Pacific | Southwest | Western Conference With all of its young players and draft capital, Oklahoma City is still lost in the wilderness. Top pick Chet Holmgren is out for the season, and top player Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is doubtful for the season opener. The Northwest Division does not appear to have much on-court drama this season. Let’s look at the best values. Futures in the Northwest Division -160 Denver Nuggets Nikola Jokic has won back-to-back MVP awards, and there is no reason to believe he will slow down anytime soon. The health of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. is critical to Denver’s chances of having a successful season. Both are All-Stars, and if they play the majority of the season, Denver will be very good. Because the Nuggets lack depth, it will be interesting to see how they manage that throughout the season. Futures Take: Denver is my pick to win the division, but if you’re going to hold my money for that long, I’d like to see better payoffs. +155 Minnesota Timberwolves Last season, the Timberwolves finished only three games behind Utah in the division. Last year, Anthony Edwards came in as a scorer, and the trio of him, Karl-Anthony Towns, and D’Angelo Russell was effective. Rather than relying on organic development, Minnesota made a significant move to acquire Rudy Gobert, the league’s best defensive big man. It’s the kind of move that could help them in the regular season, but it’s questionable in the playoffs given what we’ve seen from Gobert in the past. Futures Take: I believe Minnesota will have a strong season and win their second division title. For that outcome, the payoff is solid. +1000 Portland Trail Blazers Portland is the team with the most unanswered questions in the league. Damian Lillard is the anchor, but he’s not in great shape, and you have to wonder if Anfernee Simons, who showed a lot last season, will be able to do his thing with Lillard around. They added Jerami Grant, who is an upgrade at the 4, but Grant has been a disappointment on numerous occasions throughout his career. They have a lot of great athletes, including top pick Shaedon Sharpe, but there has to be production at some point. Futures Analysis: It’s difficult to see the Blazers moving up or down in the division. +24000 Utah Jazz This team is currently aiming for the year 2030. They’ve gone from being a team with a couple of All-Stars to a collection of misfit toys. If he is released, new guard Collin Sexton could be among the top scorers. He and fellow newcomer Malik Beasley have never seen a bad shot. Mike Conley Jr., the point guard, has always been concerned with fundamentals, so it will be interesting to see how he performs on this team. This is an intriguing group because they are going to be bad but are not particularly young. Futures Take: Skip the sprinkles entirely. +24000 Oklahoma City Thunder Where do you even begin with OKC? It appears that every step forward is followed by a step backward. Josh Giddey was a nice find as a rookie last season, but Holmgren’s injury calls his selection into question. SGA can be extremely effective, but he is now accused of being “always injured.” This could be a roster of only role players, which is difficult to win in the NBA. The Thunder are a high-effort team, so they always get a few wins they shouldn’t, but it won’t be enough to keep them in the division race.