NBA Offseason Grades Roundtable: Northwest Division

Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers

Another year, another NBA offseason is dwindling down. Before we know it, media days will be here, camp will be here, and preseason will be tipping off. However, for now, the hottest topics are how all of the teams did this offseason to prepare themselves to be a contender next season. So, we will be breaking down each division in roundtable fashion.

The roundtable participants for the Northwest Division are:

Martin Soaries – @marsoaries

Kyle Allan – @kallan441

Ryan Hayes – @rphayes21

Mike Hess – @Hessy_22

Alex Fischbein – @ThatKidFisch

General Consensus

Utah Jazz, Gordon Hayward, Rodney Hood
Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Utah JazzB

Analysis from Martin Soaries: Utah now has a steady, more experienced hand at point guard in George Hill, and I like the presence of Joe Johnson and Boris Diaw to add some flavor to their depth chart. They’ve made themselves even more interesting and competitive.

Lowest grade: C+ from Ryan Hayes: The Utah Jazz were in a three-team trade this summer which landed them George Hill who has been to the playoffs and is a solid veteran point guard. Jazz also signed Joe Johnson to a two-year deal, another veteran presence who had a resurgent second half with the Miami Heat last season. With young rising star in Gordon Hayward and Derrick Favors, the team that just missed out on the playoffs last year can get over the hump and take the seventh seed.

Denver Nuggets, Emmanuel Mudiay, Will Barton
Mandatory Credit: Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Denver Nuggets: C

Analysis from Mike Hess: The Nuggets didn’t have a great offseason signing free agents but they had a great draft night. They are building this team for the future and they already have a nice piece set in Mudiay. The Nuggets potential got three more nice young pieces to go with him in Jamal Murray, Juan Hernangomez and Malik Beasley. The Nuggets should be considered a threat to challenge for a Western Conference playoff spot in 2016-17, especially if a few of the young stars begin to break out.

Lowest grade: D+ from Ryan Hayes: The Denver Nuggets took the best shooter and flat out scorer in Jamal Murray in this year’s draft with the seventh overall pick. But as far as moves they did not make any. They do have young guys like Will Barton, Gary Harris, Nikola Jokic and Emmanuel Mudiay to build on. The Nuggets lack a superstar and I think the only one that could possibly reach that is Jamal Murray because of his shooting ability and will to score.

Russell Westbrook, Steven Adams, Oklahoma City Thunder
Credit: John E. Sokolowski

Oklahoma City Thunder: C-

Analysis from Kyle Allan: The Thunder obviously have a big hurdle to get over with Kevin Durant leaving for Golden State. If you can turn a positive out of this, it’s that we can see if Russell Westbrook can carry this team for a whole season. They made a swift move in dealing Serge Ibaka to the Magic in exchange for Victor Oladipo, so they have addressed their need for a consistent two guard.

Lowest grade: D- from Mike Hess:  They failed to keep Kevin Durant and they traded Serge Ibaka in one offseason. This is going to be a major hit on this team.  Ilyasova is a positive move long-term, but they did lose two big name players. Getting Victor Oladipo does help OKC but Westbrook can’t score all the time so they need help elsewhere this coming season.


Minnesota Timberwolves: B-

Analysis from Alex Fischbein: Andrew Wiggins, Karl Anthony Towns, Ricky Rubio, and Zach LaVine are proving to be a quality, young core. Now they add a much better coach in Tom Thibodeau and a promising point guard in Kris Dunn. Both of them should have an impact very early on, but there is still much to do if the Timberwolves want to be a legit contender. This offseason was a very small stepping stone, and the next one should be where they make a real splash.

Lowest grade: B- from Martin Soaries: The two big additions for Minnesota are Tom Thibodeau as coach and Kris Dunn as rookie draft pick, both of whom should have an impact on their playoff hopes.

Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum, Portland Trail Blazers

Portland Trail Blazers: B+

Analysis from Ryan Hayes: The Portland Trail Blazers had the best off season of the teams from the division. They brought in Evan Turner coming off his best season and Festus Ezili who will get his chance to be the starting center for his new team. They also gave extensions to Most Improved Player of the year C.J. McCollum and Meyers Leonard who is coming off his best season as a stretch four. The Blazers also matched the Brooklyn Nets offer for Allen Crabbe. With all their young players and another year under Coach of the Year candidate Terry Stotts the Trail Blazers win the division.

Lowest grade: C from Kyle Allan: Nothing Portland did was really flashy this offseason. They still kept one of their core players in giving C.J. McCollum a contract extension and has someone Lillard can play along for the next few seasons. The head scratching move to me is the Evan Turner contract. $17.5 million for a player of his caliber is a very risky move, but they do need depth at the guard position.


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