warning Hi, we've moved to USCANNENBERGMEDIA.COM. Visit us there!

Neon Tommy - Annenberg digital news

NBA 2013 Summer Moves: Northwest Division

Law Murray |
August 13, 2013 | 11:27 a.m. PDT

Staff Writer

Oklahoma City can't make a deep run if these two have to do it all. (Driller Photography/Creative Commons)
Oklahoma City can't make a deep run if these two have to do it all. (Driller Photography/Creative Commons)
This article looks at the new NBA landscape for the 2013-2014 season for the Northwest Division. With the draft and the first wave of free agency in the past, it is time to take a preliminary look at how the rosters are shaking out and whether or not the moves that teams made will have a significant difference in how those teams performed from last season.

Each team will be separated by their nominal starting five (PG = point guard, SG = shooting guard, SF = small forward, PF = power forward, C = center), with most important players followed by the more replaceable parts (i.e, franchise player of the Big 3, followed by the other two starters). Also included are the rotation (6th man through 8th man), followed by the rest of the bench (up to the 13th man). New additions and re-signings are marked by an asterisk*, rookies by a (1). Players who are uncertain to be ready for the season opener are kept out of the starting lineup and rotation and marked with a (+). Because of the heavy coaching and management turnover, those figures are listed as well.

Also check out the NBA 2013 summer moves for the AtlanticCentral and Pacific divisions.

NORTHWEST DIVISION

Oklahoma City Thunder (2012-2013: 60-22, 1st in Northwest, 1st in Western, Semifinals Loss to Memphis) 

Starters: SF Kevin Durant, PG Russell Westbrook, PF Serge Ibaka, SG Thabo Sefolosha, C Kendrick Perkins

Rotation: PG Reggie Jackson, PF Nick Collison, SG Jeremy Lamb

Bench: C Steven Adams (1), SF Andre Roberson (1), C Hasheem Thabeet, PG Derek Fisher*, PF Perry Jones III

Head Coach: Scott Brooks

General Manager: Sam Presti

You can't keep getting credit for stockpiling young talent when those players don't produce, and with the Thunder essentially going from James Harden to Kevin Martin to Jeremy Lamb, it is paramount that all of those young players the Thunder have stocked up show something next season. Lamb and Adams are lottery picks. OKC failed to retain Martin or even sign Dorell Wright or Mike Miller as a replacement. They bought back Derek Fisher and will need Jackson and Lamb to replace Martin's scoring, but neither is a good shooter or polished playmaker, which will put a dent in the Thunder's offensive efficiency. Adams was drafted as a response to Perkins' embarrassing performance this past season that culminated in a disastrous postseason, but the New Zealand product is about as raw as Thabeet and can't be counted on making a significant impact early. Roberson is a SF who plays like a PF, and Jones is a PF who plays like a SF. The Thunder are still a great team due to the presence of Durant, Westbrook, and Ibaka, and they won't be seriously challenged in the division, but improvement will have to come from the five first round picks acquired over the last three drafts.

Denver Nuggets (2012-2013: 57-25, 2nd in Northwest, 3rd in Western, First Round Loss to Golden State)

Starters: PG Ty Lawson, C JaVale McGee, PF Kenneth Faried, SG Randy Foye*, SF Wilson Chandler

Rotation: PG Andre Miller, C J.J. Hickson*, SG Evan Fournier

Bench: SF Danilo Gallinari (+), PF Darrell Arthur, C Timofey Mozgov, PG Nate Robinson*, SF Jordan Hamilton

Head Coach: Brian Shaw*

General Manager: Tim Connelly*

The Nuggets followed up their first round exit (their ninth in ten years) by losing Executive of the Year Masai Ujiri to Toronto, firing Coach of the Year George Karl, and losing SG Andre Iguodala to Golden State. The Nuggets also lost Corey Brewer to Minnesota, and Gallinari is recovering from ACL surgery. Shaw comes via Indiana and has been considered a future head coach candidate since his days with the Lakers, so Denver hopes that he fares much better than fellow Phil Jackson disciples Jim Cleamons and Kurt Rambis. Connelly comes from New Orleans' front office. The Nuggets acquired Foye from Utah as part of Iguodala's sign-and-trade. Foye gives the Nuggets a shooter, but he's a liability everywhere else as a sub-40% shooter from the field, rare rebounder, weak defender, and declining distributor whose assists have decreased annually the last five years. The Nuggets traded starting C Kosta Koufos for Arthur, elevating McGee to starting status. McGee's minutes (or lack thereof) after signing a big contract in 2012 was a factor in Karl losing his job, but the Nuggets then went out and spent on Hickson and Mozgov. Hickson is expected to challenge Faried for the starting PF spot, but he should settle in as the first big man off the bench. Robinson's signing theoretically puts Miller on the trade block, but Miller and Lawson can play in the backcourt at the same time while Robinson can't say the same. Fournier and Hamilton will have opportunities for playing time with Iguodala and Brewer moving on and Gallinari injured, but it will be a challenge for Shaw to get this team to defend competently or score effectively. The Nuggets generated a lot of acclaim for doing so well without an All-Star last season, but they are a prime candidate to slip out of the playoffs.

Utah Jazz (2012-2013: 43-39, 3rd in Northwest, 9th in Western)

Starters: PF Derrick Favors, C Enes Kanter, SF Gordon Hayward, SG Alec Burks, PG Trey Burke (1)

Rotation: SG Brandon Rush*, C Rudy Gobert (1), PG John Lucas III*

Bench: SF Marvin Williams (+), PF Jeremy Evans, C Andris Biedrins*, SF Richard Jefferson*, SG Ian Clark (1)

Head Coach: Tyrone Corbin

General Manager: Dennis Lindsey

The Jazz were the last team out of the playoff picture in the spring, but they likely won't challenge for a spot this season unless multiple members of their lottery starting five break through. The Jazz let starting big men Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap walk, PG Mo Williams signed with the Blazers, SF Marvin Williams is recovering from Achilles surgery, and SG Randy Foye was traded to Denver as part of the Iguodala-to-Golden State deal. Rush, Biedrins, and Jefferson landed in Utah from Golden State, and all three will be free agents in 2014. Favors is a defensive upgrade over Millsap and Kanter flashed production when he got minutes, but with upside comes inconsistency. Evans has won a slam dunk contest, Gobert has a JaVale McGee-like wingspan, and Biedrins is experienced. Of course, none of those players will be anywhere close to reliable next season, especially Biedrins (a 24% FT shooter over the last four years). Rush is coming off a torn ACL, but he is the best bet to replace Foye's production as a one-dimensional shooter. Jefferson replaces DeMarre Carroll, but his game has not aged well. Burke is coming off a rough Summer League, while Clark's summer play got him a contract. Burke should still start, while Clark merely replaces Earl Watson as Lucas III replaces Jamaal Tinsley.

Portland Trail Blazers (2012-2013: 33-49, 4th in Northwest, 11th in Western)

Starters: PF LaMarcus Aldridge, PG Damian Lillard, SF Nicolas Batum, C Robin Lopez*, SG Wesley Matthews

Rotation: PG Mo Williams*, C Meyers Leonard, SG C.J. McCollum (1)

Bench: PF Thomas Robinson*, SF Dorell Wright*, PF Joel Freeland, PG Earl Watson*, SF Victor Claver

Head Coach: Terry Stotts

General Manager: Neil Olshey

The Trail Blazers had the worst bench in the league last season, started J.J. Hickson out of position at C, and were not good defensively. The additions of Lopez, Williams, McCollum, and Wright address those issues directly. Lopez gives the Trail Blazers a seven-foot shot blocker and competent scorer, though he doesn’t rebound as well as Hickson. McCollum is a top-ten pick who can force turnovers better than Eric Maynor, and he has the skill set to play alongside Matthews or Lillard (like Jarrett Jack did in Golden State). McCollum is making a big jump from Lehigh, and Williams, a former All-Star, can be a reliable 6th man much like he was for the Clippers in 2011-2012. He’s more like Jack at this stage of his career than McCollum, from the shooting (good) to the defense (bad). Wright doesn’t do much outside of shoot threes well, but he’s a clear talent upgrade on Sasha Pavlovic. Robinson was drafted one spot above Lillard, but he is already on his third NBA team. He is a poor shooter and ball-handler, but if he can cut down on his mistakes then he can help the Blazers on the boards. Robinson essentially replaces Luke Babbitt. Watson is little more than a veteran presence at this point in his career, which is more than what Nolan Smith offered last year. The Trail Blazers have the NBA’s longest streak of seasons without a postseason series win, going 0-6 in the playoffs since 2000. They need to show improvement, or the Aldridge trade rumors will cloud this team.

Minnesota Timberwolves (2012-2013: 31-51, 5th in Northwest, 12th in Western)

Starters: PF Kevin Love, PG Ricky Rubio, SG Kevin Martin*, SF Corey Brewer*, C Ronny Turiaf*

Rotation: SF Chase Budinger*, PF Derrick Williams, SG Alexey Shved

Bench: C Gorgui Dieng (1), PG Jose Barea, PF Dante Cunningham, SF Shabazz Muhammad (1), C Chris Johnson

Head Coach: Rick Adelman

General Manager: Flip Saunders*

The glaring omission here is of C Nikola Pekovic, who is a restricted free agent. Pekovic is one of the best scoring Cs in the league, and he rebounds well. He has elite size, but he's not a shot-blocker. Turiaf replaces Greg Stiemsma as a block specialist, while Dieng gives the Timberwolves further insurance in the middle. Martin is a major addition, as his knees are much healthier than Brandon Roy's. The Timberwolves were the worst three-point shooting team in the league last season with Luke Ridnour starting at SG, and Martin made 158 3s at 43% last season. Brewer, the Timberwolves' 2007 lottery pick, returned to Minnesota from Denver and will compete with the re-signed Budinger for the starting SF job. Brewer is the better bet to replace Andrei Kirilenko's defense, while Budinger is an athletic shooter coming off an injury-marred season. Muhammad and Shved will battle for minutes on the wing as well, but both have major holes in their games. Muhammad lacks versatility and athleticism, while Shved is a good passer who struggled mightily with his shot last season. Like the Trail Blazers, the Timberwolves are riding a bad streak, having missed the playoffs an NBA-high nine seasons in a row. Saunders was the head coach when the Timberwolves lost in the 2004 Western Conference Finals; he now replaces the embattled David Kahn as GM. Also like the Blazers, Minnesota needs to show significant signs of progress with a talented young PG (Rubio), or their talented PF (Love) will be the focus of trade rumors.

Reach Staff Writer Law Murray via email or follow him on Twitter.



 

Buzz

Craig Gillespie directed this true story about "the most daring rescue mission in the history of the U.S. Coast Guard.”

Watch USC Annenberg Media's live State of the Union recap and analysis here.

 
ntrandomness