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Utah’s Chances in the Northwest

Posted By Wilson Tarpeh Jr. On Oct 24 2010 @ 8:50 pm In Utah Jazz | 1 Comment

The Preseason has finally come to an end, the Jazz finished with a spotless record going 8-0. The live action starts on Tuesday, after an exciting off-season the regular season will get under way. So let’s take a look at what competition the Jazz face in their own division, I don’t mean to give too much info away but the competition is stiff.

The Northwest Division consists of ¬†5 teams: Denver, Minnesota,Oklahoma City, Portland, and Utah. Of these 5, 4 of these teams finished with at least 50 wins and that was LAST year!! The only team that didn’t have 50 wins or anything remotely close too it was the Timberwolves. Denver and Utah were tied with 53-29 , OKC and Portland were also tied with records of 50-32. As I said this is an extremely competitive division, there are many marquee players in this division. Last season’s scoring leader Kevin Durant is here, superstars Carmelo Anthony and Brandon Roy, and arguably the best point guard in the league in Deron Williams!! That’s 4 Playoff teams in one division, with each team having their own star if not star(s). I know may people are ready to give this division to OKC after Mr. Durant’s work last season and this past summer when he led the US to gold in the qualifying tournament. Durant also has strong running mates in Russell Westbrook and Jeff Green. The Thunder will be right there in the thick of things but I have them finishing second in this division this year. Denver finished 1st last year having the tie breaker over Utah, this year I don’t believe they got any better whereas the rest of the division did so I have them finishing third. Portland just traded Jerryd¬†Bayless a couple of days ago, prior to that trade I felt a little better about them. I know most of you probably think I’m crazy for thinking that the loss of Bayless actually means something but I would like to point out that outside of Brandon Roy no one else on that team can CREATE their own shot! The Blazers are also extremely injury prone, when is Greg Oden going to finally last a season or even 50 games?? Oden was drafted #1 overall by Portland resulting in OKC taking Durant with the 2nd pick a couple of years ago. One guy just led the LEAGUE in scoring, the other….has yet to make it through a season!! That’s just a few of the reasons that I have the Blazers finishing behind Denver this year. The Timberwolves believe it or not did get better this off-season by drafting Wesley Johnson and trading for Mike Beasley. Beasley is going to show everyone how talented he really is now that he’s on a team where he can be “the” man. Johnson gives them an explosive wing who can shoot with range as well as a shot blocker. They are still going to finish last in the Division, but at least they will be more exciting to watch.

So that leaves just one team and it’s the Jazz, they finished second in this division last year and I truly believe they will finish first this year. Deron Williams finally will get to play with a true big man in Al Jefferson, the loss of Boozer will allow Paul Millsap to play even more!! Their success hinges on the play of their wings, will this be CJ Miles breakout year?? The Jazz need it to be, the addition of Gordon Heyward will make up for some of the production lost from Kyle Korver. The one thing I like about Heyward is his ability to put the ball on the floor as well as be able to come off screens and shoot!! The last wing in the equation might be the most important piece..Andre Kirelinko. Kirelinko needs to regain that form that made him one of the best wings in the game. His versatility allowed the Jazz to do a lot more on defense, this is also where the addition of Al Jefferson comes to play. Having Jefferson down low allows Kirelinko more freedom to rebound from the help side instead of against bigger players. That will also create match up problems because you can no longer put a big on him on defense because you have to account for Jefferson’s presence. With that said I expect the Jazz to win this division this year. If you have this playing out a little differently, feel free to let me know!!

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