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Northwest Division Odds: We Got the Jazz, We Got the Jazz

Eric Rosales

by Eric Rosales in NBA Basketball

Updated Mar 31, 2020 · 4:20 PM PDT

Russell Westbrook
Russell Westbrook's knee surgery and subsequent missed games could be the difference in deciding Northwest Division champion. Photo by Erik Drost (Flickr).
  • Thunder, Jazz open as co-favorites to win the Northwest
  • Blazers, Nuggets, Timberwolves also fielding competitive teams
  • Dissecting the toughest division in the NBA

If last year was any indication, the Northwest Division is going to be a fierce battleground.

All five teams were separated by just three games.

They were also the only division that had every team finish with a winning record within the brutal Western conference – though only one team reached double digit wins within division play.

Four of the five teams punched their ticket into the postseason, and the ninth-seeded Nuggets’ 46-36 record would have earned them sixth in the West.

With training camps set to go later this month, online sportsbooks have released odds on who will take the division.

Odds to win 2018 Northwest Division

Team 2017 Record Odds
Oklahoma City Thunder 48-34 +225
Utah Jazz 48-34 +225
Denver Nuggets 46-36 +450
Minnesota Timberwolves 47-35 +500
Portland Trail Blazers 49-33 +600

Will the Jazz or Thunder take the division?

It’s a toss-up between two teams that went at it in a spirited, yet one-sided opening round series.

We can look at stats and facts all day, but I’ll make it easy as to why you’ll want to take the Jazz.

There’s no way OKC rushes their MVP into the lineup until he’s fully ready to go. This is now the fourth procedure on his right knee. Those few missed games are going to be enough to give Utah the edge.

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Still, these are the two to beat, and man the match-up is intriguing. Russell Westbrook is relentless getting to the rim, and electric finishing, only the Jazz want him to do that. Big man Rudy Gobert anchors a defense that limited teams to under 100 points a game all season.

A healthy Andre Roberson is a world class defender, but Donovan Mitchell is Russ Lite, and can break down any scheme with his athleticism.


And also, we need more Paul George vs. Joe Ingles, who somehow turned into the best player in basketball and owned that playoff head-to-head.


Now, freed from the shackles of Carmelo Anthony, OKC does have massive upside – buoyed by an A+ offseason that netted them Dennis Schroder, Nerlens Noel and locking down George long term.

Past 5 Northwest Division Winners

Year Team Record
2017 Trail Blazers 49-33
2016 Jazz 51-31
2015 Thunder 55-27
2014 Trail Blazers 51-31
2013 Thunder 59-23

Seeking out value in the Northwest

How tough is it to be the Blazers right now? Forty-nine wins and a division crown were reduced to dust by Anthony Davis and a crushing first round sweep.

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Portland didn’t add any significant pieces this offseason, and now they’re left in the scrap heap, their window considered closed.

Sure, they have some demons to shake, but Dame Lillard and CJ McCollum are still great, and, if you believe McCollum, they’re doing their best.

+600 for a squad that’s virtually the same (minus energy big Ed Davis)? This was a team that was top-5 in defense and tied for third in total rebounding. They didn’t outscore teams, they used defense and rebounding to rise to the top. I don’t see the effort waning. You could do much worse.

If you’re into wild cards, the Nuggets may be your team. Nikola Jokic is the real deal, and a healthy Paul Millsap does everything well. Jamal Murray and Gary Harris are a nice backcourt, and Isiah Thomas off the bench could be a magnificent closer in that rare air.

Their defense, however, may not be able to hold up – and outscoring your problems for wins (they surrendered 108.5 points a game last year) is a tough road to a division crown.

The Pick

Russ’s knee and playing well heading into the playoffs is more important than the division crown, which is why Utah takes the Northwest.

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