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Jazz Favored to Win First Northwest Banner Since 2008

The Utah Jazz entered the 2016-17 NBA season as the odds-on favorite to win their first Northwest Division title since 2008, and that hasn't changed at the halfway point of the campaign.

Utah's odds of winning the banner have dropped from +140 at the start of the season to -300. Oklahoma City (+230) is the only other team with a chance to challenge the Jazz, as Denver and Portland are well back at +6600. The Minnesota Timberwolves are currently not available to bet on.

The Jazz, who were sitting atop of the division with a 29-17 record at the time of writing, are starting to look like a force to be reckoned with. Led by a talented core consisting of Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors and Gordon Hayward, Utah boasts the best defense in the NBA. The Jazz are allowing only 95.3 points per game – the lowest mark in the Association – while letting opponents shoot only 43.3 percent from the floor (second-best in the NBA).

If you think the Thunder can make a charge up the standings, a bet on them at their current price is great value. Russell Westbrook is playing out of his mind on the Kevin Durant Revenge Tour this year, but his supporting cast has struggled to pick up the slack at times. I don't think OKC will edge out the Jazz in the Northwest, but stranger things have happened in the NBA.

Portland is undoubtedly one of the league's most disappointing teams. Fresh off a surprising campaign that saw them win the division and advance to the second round of the playoffs, many people expected the Blazers to keep the momentum going this season. It hasn't gone that way. Damian Lillard and company are sitting in ninth place in the conference, but their 19-27 record leaves a lot to be desired for a team with heightened expectations.

2016-17 NBA Northwest Division Odds
TeamOdds
Utah Jazz-300
Oklahoma City Thunder+230
Portland Trail Blazers+6600
Denver Nuggets+6600

Odds as of January 24 at BetOnline

Archived Articles

When Kevin Durant departed Oklahoma City for the Golden State Warriors this summer, the decision was bound to have a big impact on the Northwest Division. KD and the Thunder owned the Northwest for years, but it’s a wide-open competition now.

OKC entered the campaign as a slight favorite but has been eclipsed by the Utah Jazz at BetOnline. Utah (+140) headlines the list, followed by OKC (+200), Portland (+300), Denver (+1400) and Minnesota (+2000). At the time of writing, the Jazz and Thunder were tied for the Northwest lead with identical 11-8 records.

Led by Rudy Gobert, Derrick Favors and George Hill, Utah owns the top defense in the NBA. The Jazz are allowing just 93.8 points per game – first in the Association – while allowing opponents to shoot a measly 42.3 percent from the field (first). The Jazz have been on the bubble of transforming from solid young group to playoff contender for the last few seasons, and I believe this is the year they take the leap and win the Northwest.

The Thunder are a one-man wrecking crew thanks to MVP favorite Russell Westbrook, but I’m not sure if the dynamic point guard can take his team back to the playoffs on his own. Westbrook leads the NBA in points per game (30.9), but the lack of secondary scoring on the Thunder has been a glaring weakness.

Portland was a trendy pick to win the division crown when the season began but has been largely inconsistent and is off to a 9-10 start as a result. The Blazers have one of the best backcourts in the league in Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, but their defense has been atrocious.

Portland is giving up 113.7 points per game (the second-worst mark in the NBA), and opponents are torching the team with a 46 percent field goal percentage (sixth-worst). Until the Blazers can get their defense back on track, steer clear of them in futures markets.

2016-17 NBA Northwest Division Odds
TeamOdds
Utah Jazz+140
Oklahoma City Thunder+200
Portland Trail Blazers+300
Denver Nuggets+1400
Minnesota Timberwolves+2000

Odds as of November 30 at BetOnline

Archived Articles

For the first time in recent memory, the NBA’s Northwest Division will be one of the most intriguing storylines of the 2016-17 season.

Despite losing superstar Kevin Durant, the Oklahoma City Thunder are +250 favorites to win the division at Bovada. There are a few new faces in OKC this year, highlighted by Victor Oladipo coming over in the Serge Ibaka trade with the Orlando Magic.

The Portland Trail Blazers (+260), Utah Jazz (+260), Minnesota Timberwolves (+333) and Denver Nuggets (+3000) round out the rest of the field.

If you’re a Trail Blazers fan, you’re likely feeling a little irked right now. The Blazers never seem to get the respect they deserve, as many books pegged them as a bottom-feeder last year. Portland defied the odds and cruised to a 44-38 record instead. As a sixth seed, they toppled the L.A. Clippers in the opening round before falling to Golden State in the Western semifinals.

Portland added some depth in the offseason and re-signed their standout backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum to long-term contracts. In my mind, the Blazers deserve to be the favorites, but I can understand the logic of going with Utah instead.

The Jazz haven't made the playoffs since 2012, and they've only been a blip on the radar as a contender in recent memory. Utah was originally listed as the Northwest Division favorite at some books in Vegas, and it wouldn't surprise me in the least if the Jazz pulled it off with their current roster.

Minnesota is another intriguing team. The Timberwolves haven’t made a postseason appearance since 2004, although that streak is looking like it’s going to come to an end very soon. The Wolves have an enviable amount of young talent highlighted by Karl-Anthony Towns, Andrew Wiggins and Kris Dunn that will create matchup nightmares for opposing coaches. They could very well win the division this year.

The Nuggets are the odd ones out, but things aren’t all bad in the Mile High City. Denver isn’t going to scare anyone right now, but general manager Tim Connelly has done a nice job of putting together a young core that can grow together. For the first time in quite some time, things are looking up in Colorado.

2016-17 NBA Northwest Division Odds
TeamOdds
Oklahoma City Thunder+250
Portland Trail Blazers+260
Utah Jazz+260
Minnesota Timberwolves+333
Denver Nuggets+3000

Odds as of October 26 at Bovada

Archived Articles

There are a lot of reasons to think the Oklahoma City Thunder could easily run away with the Northwest Division in the 2015/16 NBA season. They feature two of the most dynamic players in the Association in Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant, a good enough reason as any to believe the sky is the limit for OKC.

They’re also coming off an injury-riddled 2014/15 campaign in which both superstars missed significant time, but the two appear to be fully geared up towards making a run at their first NBA title. That’s a big reason why bettors at Bovada who are looking to bet on the Thunder to win the division will have to lay some extremely heavy chalk (-4000 to be exact).

After the heavily favored Thunder comes the rising Utah Jazz at +750. The Jazz have only made one playoff appearance in the last five seasons but have a young, exciting roster headlined by Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors and emerging superstar big man Rudy Gobert. It’s a monumental task to ask them to knock off the Thunder in the Northwest, but there’s certainly value to be had there if you believe they have a shot.

It’s a three-way tie at the bottom as the Denver Nuggets, Minnesota Timberwolves, and Portland Trail Blazers all come in as +5000 longshots. If you believe in miracles, slap a dollar on one of them and cheer your heart out this year.

2015/16 NBA Northwest Division Odds

Odds as of October 23 at Bovada

  • Oklahoma City Thunder -4000
  • Utah Jazz +750
  • Denver Nuggets +5000
  • Minnesota Timberwolves +5000
  • Portland Trail Blazers +5000

Archived Articles

After capturing their fourth straight Northwest Division title with 59 wins last season, the Oklahoma City Thunder open the 2014-2015 NBA campaign as strong -300 favorites at Bovadato repeat as division champs.

Although the Thunder finished last season with the NBA’s second-best record, they struggled in the playoffs, needing seven games to get past the upstart Memphis Grizzlies in the first round before eventually falling to San Antonio in the conference finals. With free agency just a year away for star Kevin Durant, the Thunder will be highly motivated to get back to the NBA Finals for the first time since 2012.

The Portland Trail Blazers follow the Thunder in Northwest Division with +250 odds at Bovada. Powered by a 9-1 run down the stretch, the Blazers exceeded expectations in 2013-2014 with 54 wins, their highest total since 2009, before knocking off Houston in the first round of the playoffs. Portland will again be led by 2013 rookie-of-the-year Damian Lillard, who averaged a solid 22.9 points, 6.5 assists and 5.1 rebounds during the Blazers’ playoff run.

The Denver Nuggets, who finished well out of playoff contention last season with 36 wins, sit at +1400 in futures betting at Bovada, while the Utah Jazz and youthful Minnesota Timberwolves share longshot honors, both with odds of +5000

Odds to Win 2015 NBA Northwest Division at Bovada as of October 15

Denver Nuggets +1400
Minnesota Timberwolves +5000
Oklahoma City Thunder -300
Portland Trail Blazers +250
Utah Jazz +5000

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The Oklahoma City Thunder aren't expected to have Russell Westbrook in their lineup for the first month of the regular season, but they're still the favorites on the odds to win the NBA's Northwest Division this year.

The Thunder are the -400 favorites at Bovada on the Northwest Division odds after they claimed that crown by three games over the Denver Nuggets last season. The Nuggets are the second-favorites on this year's list at +550.

The Minnesota Timberwolves are then at +1000 on the odds to win the Northwest Division at Bovada, with the Portland Trail Blazers and the Utah Jazz both pegged at +1800 odds.

Utah ended up in third place in the Northwest Division standings last season, finishing 17 games behind Kevin Durant and the Thunder. The Trail Blazers were 27 games out of first place, with the Timberwolves 29 games back of the leader.

Odds to Win 2014 NBA Northwest Division at Bovada

Oklahoma City Thunder -400
Denver Nuggets +550
Minnesota Timberwolves +1000
Portland Trail Blazers +1800
Utah Jazz +1800

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The only team entering the 2012-13 season as a bigger favorite to take down its division than the Oklahoma City Thunder is the Miami Heat.

After winning the Northwest Division by a comfortable nine games last season, Oklahoma City is a -1200 favorite at BetOnline to take the division crown once again.

The Thunder haven’t given bettors any reason not to expect another dominant regular season. Their quiet offseason has many basketball fans and bettors putting the Miami Heat and Los Angeles Lakers ahead of the Thunder as favorites for the NBA Title, but those are about the only two teams you could make a case for.

The defending Western Conference Champions are clearly in the NBA’s elite top tier.

Kevin Durant has won three straight scoring titles and Russell Westbrook and James Harden are two of the best in the game at their respective roles as well. With a chip on their shoulder after falling just short in the NBA Finals last year, expect the young Thunder to be a team on a mission here in 2012-13.

Speaking of offense, the Denver Nuggets (+800 to win the Northwest Division) had plenty of it last year as the league’s top scoring team averaging 104.1 points per game. The addition of Andre Iguodala should help the Nuggets on the defensive side of the court, and with Ty Lawson leading the way the offense should flourish again this season.

Denver will almost certainly be a playoff team and is good enough to make some noise if everything clicks.

The Minnesota Timberwolves (+3000) can’t buy a break. The additions of Brandon Roy and Andrei Kirilenko this offseason had Minnesota creating some preseason buzz, but with Ricky Rubio already on the shelf with an injury the Timberwolves lost Kevin Love for 6-8 weeks with a broken hand.

When healthy, this team actually has the pieces to compete, but staying afloat in the West with Rubio and Love out will be a tall task.

The Utah Jazz (+2500) and Portland Trail Blazers (+3000) are both looking to the future in the midst of rebuilds. Regardless of the talent on the court, never count out Utah.

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