Mar. 12, 2012; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Kevin Love (42) against the Phoenix Suns at the US Airways Center. The Timberwolves defeated the Suns 127-124. Mandatory Credit: Jennifer Stewart-US PRESSWIRE.

2012 NBA Offseason: Grading the Northwest Division

We have moved on to Part 5 of our six part series in which I take a look at each NBA team’s offseason to date. After looking at the entire Eastern Conference during the first three parts, I took a look at the Southwest Division the last time out.

Now I will shift my attention to the Northwest Division and take a look at if playoff teams like the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz can close the gap on the Oklahoma City Thunder. Also have the Minnesota Timberwolves done enough to make superstar Kevin Love a happy camper?

I take a look at those questions and many more as I hand out the offseason grades for the Northwest Division.


Denver Nuggets

Players Added

May 12, 2012; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum (17) and Denver Nuggets center JaVale McGee (34) go for a rebound in the second half of game seven of the Western Conference quarterfinals of the 2012 NBA Playoffs at the Staples Center. Lakers won 96-87. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

NBA Draft: G Evan Fournier, F Quincy Miller, F Izzet Turkyilmaz
Free Agents: G Andre Miller (re-signed), C JaVale McGee (re-signed), F Anthony Randolph

Players Lost

Free Agents: G Rudy Fernandez
Waived: F/C Chris Andersen (amnesty)

Denver added a scorer in Fournier and a potential second-round steal in Miller in the draft. In addition they kept McGee and Miller around. While $44 million may seem absurd for McGee, he did have an impact in the playoffs and could be turning the corner as a player.

I also like the Randolph signing. Its low-risk at only $2 million and his PER numbers suggest he has an impact when he’s on the floor. At only 23, maybe he can start to put it together in Denver. Overall I like what Denver did to keep their up-and-coming team intact and added a pair of nice pieces in the draft for the future. Grade: B

Minnesota Timberwolves

Players Added

NBA Draft: F Robbie Hummel
Free Agents: G Alexey Shved, F Andrei Kirilenko, G Brandon Roy
Trades: F Chase Budinger, F Dante Cunningham, C Brad Miller (retired; contract reacquired), G Jerome Dyson

Players Lost

Free Agents: F Michael Beasley
Trades: G Wayne Ellington, G Wesley Johnson
Waived: C Darko Milicic (amnesty), F Anthony Randolph, G/F Martell Webster

April 21, 2011, Portland, OR, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Brandon Roy (7) puts up a shot agaisnt the Dallas Mavericks in the second quarter of game three of the first round of the 2011 NBA playoffs at the Rose Garden. Mandatory Credit: Joe Nicholson-US PRESSWIRE

I don’t know if this is what Love had in mind by improving the team. Losing out on Nicolas Batum hurts and the rest of the offseason is really a roll of the dice. If Roy and Kirilenko show they can still be major contributors then the wolves suddenly become a nice team. That’s a big if though because if they don’t then it’s hard to make a case for the Wolves as a legitimate playoff team in a tough Western Conference. Grade: C


Oklahoma City Thunder

Players Added

NBA Draft: F Perry Jones III
Free Agents: C Hasheem Thabeet

Players Lost

Free Agents: C Nazr Mohammed

The Western Conference champs didn’t need much and they got a gift on draft night when an athlete the caliber of Jones III fell to them. Other than that, the Thunder were their usual conservative selves. It’s easy to be that way when you don’t have many holes to fill in free agency and it was wise to save the money as they will have to try and keep both James Harden and Serge Ibaka in a Thunder uniform.

Thabeet is actually a nice low-risk signing. He will add some length and be able to block shots. Grade: B

Portland Trail Blazers

Players Added

NBA Draft: G Will Barton, C Meyers Leonard, G Damian Lillard, G Tyshawn Taylor
Free Agents: F Nicolas Batum (re-signed), F Victor Claver, F Joel Freeland, F J.J. Hickson (re-signed), GRonnie Price
Trades: C Dan Gazuric, F Jared Jeffries, F Kostas Papanikolaou, G/F Sasha Pavlovic, F Giorgos Printezis

Players Lost

Free Agents: G Jamal Crawford
Trades: G Tyshawn Taylor (draft-day trade to Nets), G Raymond Felton, F Kurt Thomas, G Job Diebler

July 19, 2012; Las Vegas, NV, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) drives in the first half of the game against the Atlanta Hawks at the Cox Pavilion. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-US PRESSWIRE

I loved the Blazers draft, getting both Lillard and Leonard, who have enormous upsides. Re-signing Batum and Hickson were the right moves as well although Batum turned out to be costly.

In addition, the Blazers were able to get rid of most of their dead weight and start over. They won’t be a playoff team in 2013, but they are going about rebuilding in the right way. Grade: B-

Utah Jazz

Players Added

NBA Draft: G Kevin Murphy
Free Agents: F Jeremy Evans (re-signed), G Randy Foye
Trades: F Shan Foster, G Mo Williams, F Marvin Williams

Players Lost

Trades: F Tadija Dragicevic, G Devin Harris

The Jazz have quietly built themselves into a decent team. After making the playoffs last season, GM Kevin O’Connor used his assets to add depth to his roster. He turned Mehmet Okur’s trade exception into a starting point guard and turned Harris’ expiring deal into Marvin Williams.

I like the Randy Foye signing and the second-round selection of Murphy, who was one of the best scorers in college basketball last season. He has deep range on his jumper and could give the Jazz a nice scoring bump off the bench.

Utah has significant assets going forward, with expiring contracts in Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson along with the Warriors’ 2013 first-round pick. If the Jazz want to make another big deal mid-season, they have the tools to get it done. Grade: B+

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