Monday, December 26, 2011

2012 NBA Preview: Northwest Conference

1st Place: Oklahoma City Thunder (#3 seed)

Lineup:
PG Russell Westbrook
SG Thabo Sefolosha
SF Kevin Durrant
PF Serge Ibaka
C Kendrick Perkins
6th: G James Harden

Only think I worry about with OKC is their lack of depth, but they're going to score many points and be outstanding low-post defenders vs. teams like San Antonio and the Lakers when they get Bynum back or move for Dwight Howard. Durrant is slowly becoming the leagues best all-around player, take that LeBron, and should carry this team to an easy Northwest win.

2nd Place: Portland Trail Blazers (#7 seed)

Lineup:
PG Raymond Felton
SG Wesley Mathews
SF Gerald Wallace
PF LeMarcus Aldridge
C Marcus Camby
6th: G Jamal Crawford

Many are picking Denver as the 2nd team out of the Northwest, but I like Portland's depth and young talent. I think Aldridge is in for his best season yet without having to share the wealth with Brandon Roy and him no being "The Man". Wallace brings D and O at the SF and Crawford may end up starting at shooting guard. The only worry spot is at center were they're thin after the 37-year old Camby.

3rd Place: Denver Nuggets

Lineup:
PG Ty Lawson
SG Aaron Afflalo
SF Danilo Gallinari
PF Nene Hilario
C Kosta Koufos
6th: G Andre Miller

The Nuggets are deep, with guys like Miller, Rudy Fernandez and Al Harringon lined up on their bench, which suits them well for the shortened season, but I'm just not overly impressed with their starting five. I think Gallinari will be a stud, and Nene will be good for his 14/10, but still not sold on Afflalo as a starting, full-time SF and have never been overly impressed with the under-sized Ty Lawson at point.

4th Place: Utah Jazz

Lineup:
PG Deron Williams
SG Gordon Heyward
SF C.J. Miles
PF Paul Milsap
C Al Jefferson
6th: F Derrick Favors

The Jazz need to figure out a way to get Jefferson most his minutes at PF where he can just dominate and not need to focus on defending 7+ footers too. Still love Williams at point, even though they'll have trouble finding points in the backcourt outside of him. If Miles finally reaches his potential while Heyward and Favors each improve like they can, than Utah will be looking at playoff hopes!

5th Place: Minnesota Timberwolves

Lineup:
PG Ricky Rubio
SG Wes Johnson
SF Michael Beasley
PF Kevin Love
C Darko Milicic
6th: F Derrick Williams

The T-Wolves are lining up talent left and right, but they just can't seem to put the right pieces together. They draft Williams when they have their SF and PF taken care of well into the future (unless Beasley loses favor). Their success in my eyes though, lies with Rubio. If he can give them 12-15 pts. and 6-8 dimes per night, they may be competitive.

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