NBA Northwest Division Preview: Healthy Denver Nuggets Try to Hold Off Minnesota Timberwolves

Posted on: October 5, 2022, 11:31h. 

Last updated on: October 5, 2022, 04:45h.

The Denver Nuggets and two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokic are the betting favorite to win the NBA Northwest Division at -140 odds. That’s thanks to guard Jamal Murray and forward Michael Porter returning from serious injuries.

Karl-Anthony Towns Nikola Jokics NBA Northwest Division Odds Denver Nuggets Minnesota Timberwolves Portland Trail Blazers Thunder Jazz Preview
Center Nikola Jokic (right) from the Denver Nuggets defends Center Karl-Anthony Towns (22) from the Minnesota Timberwolves last season. The Nuggets and Timberwolves will battle for the 2022-23 Northwest Division title. (Image: USA Today Sports)

The Minnesota Timberwolves are a team on the upswing after they won the Western Conference Play-In Tournament last season. They landed one of the NBA’s premier defensive players in a blockbuster trade for center Rudy Gobert, which is why they’re the second favorite to win the Northwest at +140 odds.

2022-23 NBA Northwest Division Odds

  • Denver Nuggets -140
  • Minnesota Timberwolves +140
  • Portland Trail Blazers +800
  • Utah Jazz +20000
  • Oklahoma City Thunder +25000

** Odds via DraftKings

Meanwhile, the Utah Jazz’s run of back-to-back Northwest Division titles is about to come to an end. The Jazz imploded their team when they traded away Gobert and guard Donovan Mitchell this summer.

Denver Nuggets -140

The Denver Nuggets are ready to rip. Murray missed all of last season recovering from an ACL injury. Porter only played a few games before he missed the rest of the season with a back injury and subsequent surgery.

Jokic carried the Nuggets on his back without the two max-contract players to win 48 games last season. His Herculean effort earned him MVP honors for the second season in a row. Jokic narrowly edged out center Joel Embiid from the Philadelphia 76ers in the closest MVP race in more than two decades.

The Nuggets upgraded their defense by acquiring guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope in a trade with the Washington Wizards. Backup point guard Bones Hyland had a breakout rookie season last year, and he’s our long-shot pick for Sixth Man of the Year.

So long as the Nuggets stay healthy, they’re the team to beat in the Northwest. Their win total is 49.5 o/u game, but 50-plus wins are reachable with a healthy Big 3 of Jokic, Murray, and Porter. Grab the Nuggets now at -140 odds before the Northwest odds shift at the start of the season.

Minnesota Timberwolves +140

The Minnesota Timberwolves won 46 games last season and earned the #7 seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Even though the Memphis Grizzlies knocked them out in the first round, the Timberwolves/Grizzlies played one of the most exciting series in the playoffs.

In an attempt to compete in a stacked Western Conference, the Timberwolves leveraged their future for Gobert, coughing up four first-round picks and five players. Gobert joins a front line with Karl-Anthony Towns and Jaden McDaniels, while guard Anthony Edwards anchors the backcourt with guard D’Angelo Russell.

Aside from Kyle Anderson, the Timberwolves have a thin bench after they sent a slew of role players and veterans to the Jazz to complete the Gobert trade. Their starting five is one of the strongest in the West, but their lack of depth is a concern.

The public jumped on the bandwagon after the Gobert trade, which is why the Timberwolves are +140 odds to win the Northwest. The Timberwolves’ win total is 48.5 o/u. That’s just a couple of wins higher than last season’s 46 wins.

Portland Trail Blazers +800

Pop quiz time. Aside from guard Damian Lillard, how many other starters from the Portland Trail Blazers can you name? It’s okay if you don’t know more than two. We had to look it up, too, because the Trail Blazers were another team that rebooted most of its squad.

Lillard missed the second half of last season, recovering from core stomach surgery. But he signed a lucrative contract extension which backed up his desire to play his entire career in Portland.

Guard Anfernee Simmons had a breakout season last year, averaging 17.3 ppg. He’ll join Lillard in the backcourt, but it seems weird that Lillard and guard CJ McCollum are no longer in the same lineup after the Trail Blazers broke up their dynamic duo at last season’s trade deadline.

The Trail Blazers added forward Jerami Grant in a trade with the Detroit Pistons, then bolstered their bench by signing guard Gary Payton II. With the seventh-overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Trail Blazers took a flier on guard Shaedon Sharpe, But Sharpe injured his shoulder during an NBA Summer League game in Vegas.

The bookies think the Trail Blazers are barely a break-even team during a transition season, with a win total of 39.5 o/u. A healthy Lillard could keep them in contention for a spot in the Play-In Tournament, which is why they’re +800 odds to win the Northwest.

Utah Jazz +20000

The Utah Jazz was one of the top teams in the Western Conference for the past couple of seasons. But a growing rift between stars Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert inevitably led to a fractured locker room and a disappointing breakup. During a busy off-season, the Jazz traded Gobert to the Timberwolves, then dealt Mitchell to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

It’s only a matter of time before the Jazz trade away veteran guards Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, or Collin Sexton. They’re on a mission to rebuild the team from scratch after acquiring a hoard of future draft picks for Gobert and Mitchell.

Head Coach Quin Snyder saw the writing on the wall and prematurely retired after eight seasons in Utah. President Danny Ainge hired Will Hardy as the Jazz’s new head coach. Hardy earned accolades as one of the top assistant coaches in the league during his time on the Boston Celtics’ staff.

The wunderkind Hardy is now the youngest head coach in the NBA. The Celtics probably wish they never let Hardy leave for Utah because he would have replaced head coach Ime Udoka. That’s after Udoka earned a one-year suspension for an inappropriate relationship with a female staffer.

The Jazz is among a handful of other teams that will tank this upcoming season for a shot at winning the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes. Wembanyama, a 7-foot-3 standout center from France, is regarded as the best big man prospect in two decades. He’s projected to become the #1 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft.

With a paltry win total of 24.5 o/u, the Jazz are one of the two massive long shots on the board to win the Northwest at +20000 odds.

Oklahoma City Thunder +25000

After several years occupying the basement of the Western Conference, the Oklahoma City Thunder used the draft to stock their roster with numerous talented young players like guard/forward Josh Giddey, guard Tre Mann, and forward Darius Bazley.

The Thunder were at the crossroads: is it time to make a run at a playoff berth, or tank for Wembanyama? It looks like the Thunder are on the tank train once again.

With multiple first-round draft picks in the 2022 NBA Draft, the Thunder selected Chet Holmgren second overall and Jalen Williams with the #12 pick. After an impressive stint during NBA Summer League, Holmgren suffered a foot injury playing in a pro-am game in Seattle at the end of the summer. Holmgren will miss his entire rookie season.

The Thunder have one of the lowest win totals in the Western Conference at 23.5 o/u. At least they’ll be fun to watch, especially the exciting Giddey from Australia, who dazzled fans during his rookie season last year.

With the Thunder projected to lose 55-60 games this season, they’re the moon shot on the futures board at +25000 odds to win the Northwest Division.