After a thrilling season, the NBA is officially over for another year. So, the team at SportsTips thought it would be a good idea to go through every team in the Northwest Division, and have a look at the year that was!
Superstar big man Nikola Jokic won the MVP award in the 2020-21 season and was expected to lead the Denver Nuggets even further in this upcoming year but there were unforeseen circumstances. First off, Jamal Murray would end up tearing his ACL late in that year, causing him to miss the entire 2021-2022 season.
That is 21.2 points that can not be replaced by a guy off the bench so that was a huge blow. Also, Michael Porter Jr. would re-injure his back and be forced to miss the rest of the season which left Jokic surrounded by a bench of role players.
— NBA (@NBA) July 7, 2022
This made him step his game up to a whole different level and he became the first player ever to score 2,000 points, grab 1,000 rebounds, and dish out 500 assists in a season. For his efforts was awarded the MVP trophy again, narrowly beating out fellow center Joel Embiid. As for the team, they ran into the eventual NBA-champions, the Golden State Warriors and were eliminated quickly in just 5 games.
Reinserting Murray and Porter Jr. back in the lineup alongside one of the best players in the entire league will get the Nuggets back to the team that was winning playoff series’ just a couple years ago. This is definitely a team I am buying low on at the moment as they have everything in place to be a threat.
The Minnesota Timberwolves made huge strides as a franchise in 2021-2022 as they were a postseason team for the first time since 2004. It came as a surprise to everyone it was all possible because the young guys made big leaps in their games, most notably Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards.
Head coach Chris Finch also deserves a lot of credit for getting the guys to buy into his system and execute it night in and night out in a very tough Western Conference. The backcourt of D’Angelo Russell and defensive ace Patrick Beverly was a great combination as they had a record of 46-36 which landed them in the play-in tournament.
we’re building something special. 🐺 pic.twitter.com/VH4HdcIKiL
— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) July 8, 2022
That is where they had to beat the Los Angeles Clippers to make the postseason field and earn the 7th seed to face the Memphis Grizzlies. It was a tough series that could have been won by either team but ultimately the Grizzlies took it in 6 games, but the Wolves earned some valuable experience. The 2022-2023 Wolves will be a whole new look as they parted ways with Beverly and brought in a Twin Tower to go with KAT.
That player is Rudy Gobert, formerly of the Utah Jazz, and 3-time defensive player of the year. His presence down low will help one of their biggest weaknesses from last year and that is defensive rating as a team. They have one of the most unique cores in the league and I think it’s possible they take yet another step and maybe even win a playoff series now.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Oklahoma City are another super young team that is caught in a rebuild at the moment. With their sixth overall pick in last year’s draft they picked the uniquely-skilled international player Josh Giddey who brought a certain flare to the team.
He is a triple-double threat any night and if he can improve his defense and shooting, he will be a real player in this league for a long time. The main guy on this OKC team for the foreseeable future though is Shai-Gilgeous Alexander who is the main scorer and facilitator of the offense.
The athletic combo guard averaged over 24 points a game and is a rising star in this league, but suffered through injuries throughout the year. The final guy of their core is Lu Dort who is known for his stout defense, usually being tasked with guarding the other team’s best player.
— OKC THUNDER (@okcthunder) July 7, 2022
Dort also averaged over 17 points a game and earned himself a 5-year $87 million contract when the free agency period opened up. The Thunder also drafted the polarizing 7’1 Chet Holmgren out of Gonzaga who is a lengthy scorer who catches a lot of criticism for his slender frame.
He has lots of talent but it’s going to be hard for him to succeed at this level with the lack of strength he possesses but if he can find a way, then the Thunder could have struck gold with that pick. Either way, it’s going to be another long year of losing but there are a lot of fun pieces on this team.
Portland Trail Blazers
In 2020-2021 the Portland Trail Blazers were back in the postseason via the play-in tournament so when the 2021-2022 season rolled around there was no way anybody could have seen them fall off the way that they did. It started in the offseason when the team fired head coach Terry Stotts and hired first time head coach Chauncey Billups.
General manager Neil Olshey also didn’t address the defensive woes the team faced and just ran the same team back, expecting better results. That did not happen, as the team started the season very slow due in large part to Damian Lilliard’s poor shooting slump.
GM Olshey was then fired for toxic behavior behind the scenes and then Lillard got hurt, and the wheels were completely off at that point. Portland gave up on the season from there and ended up trading CJ McCollum to the New Orleans Pelicans for a package surrounding Josh Hart.
Already looking forward to next season 🙌
— Portland Trail Blazers (@trailblazers) July 7, 2022
Lillard’s injury and CJ’s departure cleared the way for Anfernee Simons to show his potential and he did just that. The young guard more than doubled his scoring average from the previous year (up to 17.3) and earned himself a four-year $100 million contract in the offseason.
Pairing him and Dame will be an explosive backcourt for years to come, especially under former point guard in the NBA, Chauncey Billups. With them not signing any big free agents, it appears to be another rebuilding year for the Blazers and a wasted year of Lilliard’s prime.
It was another solid regular season for the Utah Jazz who won 49 games which was a slight dip from the season before when they were the top seed in the Western Conference. They were once again led by great defensive play of 3-time defensive player of the year Rudy Gobert who had averages of 15 points and 14 rebounds a game.
He also added over 2 blocks a game and complimented their explosive combo guard Donovan Mitchell pretty well. Mitchell’s steady scoring was a consistent force for the Jazz but at times he didn’t have a running mate to help take the load off of him offensively.
— Utah Jazz (@utahjazz) July 8, 2022
That was a big reason why the Jazz eventually flamed out early in the playoffs once again, this time losing to the 4 seed Dallas Mavericks in the first round (6 games). Things will be totally different in 2023 for the Utah Jazz as head coach Quin Snyder stepped down after 8 relatively successful seasons running the ship.
The team also parted ways with Rudy Gobert, trading him to Minnesota for a package that included Patrick Beverly and Jarred Vanderbilt. It’s hard to see the Jazz being as competitive as they have been with all the changes and I see their ceiling as being a fringe playoff team.
Even though the season has finished, we’ve got you covered with all the latest information on the NBA! We keep you as up to date as possible, so you don’t miss any of the action this off-season.