2017 NBA Draft Preview: Northwest Division

We are just couple weeks away from the 2017 NBA Draft, where we’ll be introduced to the newest crop of future NBA stars. This year is loaded with talent all across the board and every team has needs to fill, so they should be able to upgrade their rosters through the draft. I will be breaking down the draft outlook for each NBA team, breaking it down by divisions. First up, the Northwest Division.

1. Utah Jazz (51-31)

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Biggest Offseason Need: Big man who can stretch the floor

The Utah Jazz were one of the NBA’s pleasant surprises last season, winning 51 games in the regular season. Even though they battled injuries over the course of the season, the Jazz were able to hang around with the best in the Western Conference. Their season did end with a sweep at the hands of the Golden State Warriors, however. Utah needs to add some more firepower offensively, particularly in the frontcourt. Derrick Favors is a really good player when healthy, but he struggled to do so this past season. Rudy Gobert is their defensive stalwart. Now, they need a big who is capable of stretching the floor and knocking down outside shots.

Good Draft Fits: C Zach Collins, Gonzaga; PF Lauri Markkanen, Arizona

 

2. Oklahoma City Thunder (47-35)

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Biggest Offseason Need: Perimeter shooting help

The post-Kevin Durant version of the Thunder is obviously a shell of its former self. Russell Westbrook has been forced to shoulder heavy burden and even he is not enough to make them a championship contender. He needs help, and bad. It starts with giving the Thunder more options on the offensive end. Westbrook dominates the basketball the majority of the time, so it would benefit OKC if they could bring in a spot up shooter who is also capable of creating his own shot. Any player of this caliber that they bring in could really thrive due to the significant amount of defensive attention Westbrook demands.

Good Draft Fits: SG Luke Kennard, Duke; SG Tyler Dorsey, Oregon

 

3. Portland Trail Blazers (41-41)

Sports Illustrated

Biggest Offseason Need: Three & D type of player

It’s quite clear that the strength of the Portland Trail Blazers is their young backcourt. The duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum is a problem to deal with on the offensive end. However, neither one is a premier defender and adding a player who can help take pressure off of them defensively isn’t exactly a bad idea. The Trail Blazers also need more shooters on the wings, as the guys they have in the fold now have had their fair share of struggles with consistency. A three-and-D player would a much-welcomed upgrade for a team that underachieved last season.

Good Draft Fits: SF OG Anunoby, Indiana; F Jonathan Isaac, Florida State

 

4. Denver Nuggets (40-42)

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Biggest Offseason Need: Starting point guard

The Denver Nuggets have somewhat of a dilemma on their hands at the point guard position. Emmanuel Mudiay has not panned out to be the player they originally expected. Jameer Nelson is a veteran, but he’s also 35 years old and well out of his prime. The Nuggets are more than due for an upgrade at the position. Nikola Jokic has emerged as their potential franchise player and with a host of other solid young pieces in the fold, adding future starter at point guard could be another important link between Denver and the playoffs.

Good Draft Fits: PG Dennis Smith, NC State; PG Frank Ntilikina, France

 

5. Minnesota Timberwolves (31-51)

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Biggest Offseason Need: Stretch four

The Timberwolves are one of the NBA’s youngest teams, featuring an already strong nucleus of Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Zach LaVine. If I’m drafting for Minnesota, I’m looking at a player who we can pair with Towns in the frontcourt. A double-double machine, Towns can hold his own and then some in the paint. Adding a guy who can stretch the floor with his athleticism would be a great asset to this developing team. Sooner or later, you have to figure that getting all these early draft picks is going to pay off at some point.

Good Draft Fits: Jonathan Isaac, Florida State; Lauri Markkanen, Arizona

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