Part V, moving up north in our All-Division teams project, this time to the Northwest division, consisting of one dark horse type title contender (Denver Nuggets), two teams who’ll make the playoffs but won’t go too deep (Portland and Utah) and another team that’s going to the post season, but they have one of the four best players in the league, and might continue their breakout season, stunning everyone (Oklahoma City). Oh yeah, and Minnesota. Second worst team in the league.
For our previous posts – Atlantic division, Central division, Southeast division, Southwest division.
Deron Williams, Utah Jazz
For some reason, 2010 was Williams’ first trip to the all-star game, although he is considered by many to be one of the top 2-3 points guards in the league, maybe even the best, especially with Paul out half of the time. Williams is the best player on a Utah Jazz team that’s battling for at least some home court advantage in the playoffs, currently ranked fourth in the crowded West (42-22), with Williams putting up 18.6 points and 10.3 assists (3rd in the league) per game, with an impressive 33 double-doubles this seasons so far, seventh in the league. He’ll probably get his second All-NBA team selection, probably in the second team.
Brandon Roy, Portland Trailblazers
He did get slowed down by an injury nearing the all-star game which he missed despite getting selected for the third time, but other than that, Roy is having another fantastic season, enjoying the life of a shooting guard. He’s scoring 22.3 points per game, 9th in the league, while leading the Blazers to a 39-28 record so far, which might not be enough for a playoff spot, with Portland currently holding the 8th spot, four games ahead of Memphis.
Kevin Durant, Oklahoma City Thunder
This is the season that Durant has shown everyone just good he is, and how good he’ll be, right up there with LeBron and Wade as a marquee guy of the league in the new decade. Durant is scoring almost 30 points a night, battling with LeBron for the league’s best scorer title while grabbing 7.5 rebounds per game and leading the Thunder along with Westbrook to the franchises first playoff appearance (most likely) since leaving Seattle and first since 2005. OKC are currently 5th in the west with a 39-24 record.
Carmelo Anthony, Denver Nuggets
Another guy who’s nearing 30 a game again this season, after taking a step back points-wise in 2008-2009. Anthony is averaging 28.6 points along with 6.2 rebounds and 1.4 steals per game. He’s not going to be LeBron, Kobe or Wade, but I think the 2009 playoffs and generally last season something changed for Anthony, looking like he’s fine that he won’t be among the elite of the elite. He’s an excellent player, not an MVP-caliber guy, simply a great scorer. Will it be enough to carry the Nuggets a step further than last year?
Center – Nene Hilario, Denver Nuggets
Another Nuggets player, Nene is repeating his 2008-2009 form, by staying healthy and playing good basketball on both ends of the court, averaging 13.9 points, 7.8 rebounds, 1.3 steals and 1 block per game in one of the best front lines in the league (Anthony, Martin, Nene), but he will need to play better than last playoffs where his overall performance dropped. It’s nice having Andersen come off the bench, but a good Nene is pivotal if the Nuggets want to make it back to the conference finals and further.