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Northwest Division Roundup: Week of 10/16-10/22

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Denver Nuggets 1-1 (1-1)

Just one week into the season, Denver hasn’t looked like the same team we’ve come to know under Michael Malone.  The Nuggets of last year were a top five offensive team, but have crawled into the 2017-18 season at just 96 points per game.  They are, however, holding opposing teams to just 92 points.  Paul Millsap along with a rejuvenated Kenneth Faried bring a defensive intensity that the Nuggets will need if they’re going to push into the playoffs this year.  In the first two games, Nikola Jokic has been missing as a scoring option, instead taking on more of a facilitator role.  Look for him to blow his career assist average of 3.6 out of the water this season.

Minnesota Timberwolves 2-1 (2-1)

Watch out for the Timberwolves this year.  In the loaded Western Conference, they still looked primed to make some noise.  It still may be a season or two before they’re a title contender, but they sure are fun to watch.  Andrew Wiggins and Karl Anthony-Towns haven’t missed a beat from last year and look ready to establish themselves as one of the best duos in the NBA.  Jimmy Butler hasn’t been play at an all-star level in the first three games, but give him a few more weeks and he’ll find a rhythm with his new team.

Oklahoma City Thunder 1-2 (1-2)

The Thunder’s new Big Three as been a mixed bag thus far.  Dropping two of their first the first three game, they definitely have some kinks to work out, but still expect to see them as one of the top four teams in the Western Conference once all 82 games are played.  The most positive aspect is Russell Westbrook’s ability to still average a near triple-double, while Paul George and Carmelo Anthony are still able to get their shots.  Despite their heartbreaking loss to the Timberwolves, the Thunder have shown that they’ll be just as engaging to watch as everyone assumed they would be going into this season.

Portland Trail Blazers 2-1 (2-1)

The Trail Blazers have been firing on all cylinders to start the season.  Even though they fell victim to the Freak Greek in their loss to the Bucks, they’ve been handling their opponents thus far and have lead at the end of every quarter except for one this season.  Damian Lillard is the same all-star caliber player that the Portland has come to expect, but it’s been the emergence of Jusuf Nurkic that has this team rolling.  Since coming over to the Trail Blazers last year, he’s averaging 15.2 points and 10.4 rebounds per game.  However, they face a tough road back to the playoffs and even tough path past the first round.  Look for them to compete for a seventh or eighth seed.

Utah Jazz 2-1 (2-1)

The Jazz play a Spurs-esque style of basketball.  They’re unselfish, play strong defensive, and don’t have one player who stands above the rest.  Losing Gordon Hayward will hurt them in the long run, but as long as they compete with the tenacity they’ve brought into this season they should have a strong year.  Rudy Gobert is one of the most valuable players in league (despite getting little love) and Joe Ingles and Donovan Mitchell bring more than enough offensive fire power for them to live on.  This season may not be as special as last year’s, but if the first three games are any indication they will be very competitive.

About Jordan Schauberger

Jordan is a Sports Journalism student at American River College. He is a passionate NBA fan and unironically supports the Kings. #SacramentoProud

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