NBA Season Preview For Northwest Division, 2022-23

NBA Season Preview For Northwest Division, 2022-23
Tue 11th October 2022

We simply cannot wait for the new NBA season to start, and we are counting down the days until the very first tip off. If you are like us and love the NBA, then you definitely need to have a read on below, as we take a look at each and every team from the Northwest Division and analyze their chances for success in this brand new season.

Denver Nuggets

The Denver Nuggets opened the 2021-22 campaign on a low note and had an uninspiring 18-16 record heading into January. But the Nuggets regrouped to win 30 of their next 48 games to finish the season 48-34. Denver lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Golden State Warriors, the eventual NBA Finals Champions, in five games. 

Head coach Michael Malone returns for his eighth season with the Nuggets. Denver traded for Ish Smith and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, and signed DeAndre Jordan and Bruce Brown. Kansas guard Christian Braun was drafted in the first round. The Nuggets are an improved squad, but in the rugged Western Conference will fall in the playoff semifinals.

Two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic posted a career-high 27 points and 13 rebounds last season while also tallying nearly eight assists. The 27-year-old Serbian averaged 31 points in five playoff games with 13 boards and five assists, and has established himself as one of the NBA’s elite superstars.

The Nuggets played the 2021-22 season without two of their top three players. Guard Jamal Murray missed the entire season after suffering an ACL tear near the end of the 2020-21 season. Forward Michael Porter played in only nine games before opting for his third back surgery since being drafted 14th overall in 2018. The return of Murray and Porter is crucial to the Nuggets’ playoff success.

Caldwell-Pope will start at shooting guard and tallied 13 points and three rebounds last season with the Washington Wizards. Aaron Gordon will join Jokic and Porter in the front court and averaged 15 points, six boards, and two assists in 2021-22. 

Smith, Jordan, and Brown will provide much-needed depth. Denver has the skilled players to make some noise in the playoffs, but the health of Murray and Porter will determine if the Nuggets can contend for an NBA title. 

Minnesota Timberwolves

The Minnesota Timberwolves 2021-22 season got off to an underwhelming start with a 17-19 mark after 36 games. The Timberwolves improved during the second half of the season and finished with a 46-36 record. Minnesota lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Memphis Grizzlies in six games.

Head coach Chris Finch enters his second season at the helm of the Timberwolves. The additions of All-Star Rudy Gobert and Kyle Anderson will help Minnesota escape the first round of the playoffs. Still, the emergence of Anthony Edwards as an All-Star will determine if the Timberwolves can become a legitimate NBA title contender.

Gobert averaged 15 points and led the league with 14 rebounds a game during his final season with the Utah Jazz. The three-time All-Star is a defensive standout at the rim and will provide the Timberwolves with high-percentage baskets, rebounds, and blocked shots.

Three-time All-Star Karl-Anthony Towns enjoyed another productive campaign last season with 24 points, nine boards, and three assists. The 6-foot-11 big man also became the first center to win the NBA’s Three-Point Contest. The 26-year-old is already an elite player who will only get better if he can stay healthy.

Edwards averaged 21 points, four rebounds, and three assists during his second season in the league, and became the seventh player in history to score 2,000 points in his first 100 games at age 20 or younger. Point guard D’Angelo Russell posted 18 points and seven assists an outing last season, while 21-year-old forward Jaden McDaniels tallied nine points and four boards a game.

Minnesota should break the 50-win barrier this season and make it past the first round of the playoffs. But to become a serious title contender, Towns must stay healthy, and Edwards must develop into an All-Star-caliber player. Anderson, Tauren Prince, and Naz Reid will play key roles off the bench. 

Oklahoma City Thunder

The Oklahoma City Thunder rebuilding process continued in 2021-22, and the Thunder stumbled out of the gate with a 15-22 card after 37 games. Oklahoma City won just nine of its remaining 45 matchups to end the season with a 24-58 record. 

Head coach Mark Daigneault begins his third season at the helm of the Thunder. Oklahoma City drafted Gonzaga big man Chet Holmgren with the second overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Still, a Lisfranc injury in his foot will sideline the seven-footer for the entire 2022-23 season. The Thunder will struggle to win 30 games and is guaranteed another draft lottery pick.

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander is one of the NBA’s top young players and averaged 24 points, five rebounds, and nearly six assists last season. The former first-round pick is recuperating from a Grade 2 MCL sprain in his left knee, and it is uncertain if the 24-year-old guard will be ready for the start of the new season.

Australian point guard Josh Giddey tallied 12 points, seven boards, and six assists during his rookie campaign. The soon-to-be 20-year-old is the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double and was the lone rookie to post 500 points, 400 rebounds, and 300 assists last season.

Defensive specialist Lu Dort averaged 17 points and four rebounds a game for the Thunder in 2021-22. Oklahoma drafted Santa Clara shooting guard Jalen Williams with the 12th overall pick in this year’s draft. Williams averaged 18 points, four boards, and four assists during his final collegiate season to earn First-team All-WCC recognition.

Last year’s second-round pick, Jeremiah Robinson-Earl, averaged seven points and five rebounds during his rookie season. The Thunder will not win many games this season but will be rewarded with another high draft pick that will help the franchise in its rebuilding efforts.

Portland Trail Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers won 10 of their first 11 home matchups in the 2021-22 season but went 1-10 on the road to post an 11-11 card after 22 games. However, the Trail Blazers dropped 44 of their next 60 games to finish the season with a 27-55 record and missed the playoffs for the first time in nine years.

Former NBA star Chauncey Billups returns for his second season as head coach of the Trail Blazers. Portland added Jerami Grant, Gary Payton, and Kentucky guard Shaedon Sharpe to a solid core. The Trail Blazers will advance to the playoffs this season but need more depth to become a legitimate NBA title contender. 

Six-time NBA All-Star Damian Lillard posted 24 points, four rebounds, and seven assists in 29 games before season-ending surgery for abdominal pain. The 32-year-old averaged 28 points, four boards, and seven assists in his last full season in 2020-21 and remains one of the league’s elite floor generals.

Grant was acquired in a trade with the Detroit Pistons and will start in the front court with Jusuf Nurkic and Nassir Little. The former second-round pick tallied 19 points and four rebounds a game last season with the Pistons. Nurkic averaged 15 points and 11 boards in 56 games, while Little posted nine points and five rebounds a game in his third NBA campaign.

Sharpe has been described as an “All-World” talent by Lillard and excels on the defensive end of the court. Shooting guard Anfernee Simons averaged 17 points and nearly four assists last season. Payton is the backup point guard and tallied seven points and three rebounds in 2021-22 with Golden State.

Forward Josh Hart enjoyed a breakout year and posted 19 points, five rebounds, and four assists in 13 games with the Trail Blazers last season. Portland will be a dynamic squad with Lillard directing the offense and should easily qualify for the playoffs as the seventh or eighth seed.   

Utah Jazz

The Utah Jazz rolled to 26 wins in their first 35 games to start the 2021-22 season in high gear. But the Jazz struggled in the second half and went 23-24 over their last 47 games to finish the season 49-33. Utah lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Dallas Mavericks in six games.

Head coach Will Hardy begins his first season at the helm of the Jazz. Utah traded franchise stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert, and added Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen, Walker Kessler, Ochai Agbaji, Malik Beasley, and Talen Horton-Tucker. The Jazz are in a rebuilding mode and will not contend for a playoff spot this season.

Sexton tore his left meniscus last season and played in just 16 games. The 23-year-old guard averaged 24 points and four assists per game during the 2020-21 season. Markkanen posted 14 points and five rebounds for the Cleveland Cavaliers last season, while Beasley and Horton-Tucker tallied 12 and 10 points an outing, respectively. Agbaji was drafted with the 14th overall pick, and Kessler was taken with the 22nd selection in the 2022 NBA Draft.

The 2021 NBA Sixth Man of the Year Jordan Clarkson averaged 16 points, three rebounds, and two assists last season. The 30-year-old Filipino-American guard will once again be the Jazz’s top scoring option off the bench.

Veteran point guard Mike Conley posted 13 points, three boards, and five assists in 72 games last season. The 34-year-old made his first All-Star appearance in 2021-22 and will direct the Jazz offense this season.

Utah has a roster stocked with young talent and will use the upcoming season to develop its stable of prospects. The Jazz are in a rebuilding process, and advancing to the playoffs this season is not a priority for the Utah front office. 

When the 2022 NBA season does eventually begin, make sure SportsTips is your go-to destination for NBA picks. We will provide NBA picks for each and every game of the season from our experts, so you can place your bets with more confidence!

Marvin is a self-confessed sports fanatic who is addicted to the NFL, MLB and CFB. He has a passion for Daily Fantasy Sports and absolutely loves gambling and making money on his favorite sports. He has been an avid Dallas Cowboys fan since the 1970s and has been writing about sports for more than three decades. Whether he is making prop bets or choosing which teams will cover spreads, he is thrilled to provide relevant information for all of our readers.