2008-09 prediction: Jazz still best in Northwest
Our experts predict which team will win the Northwest Division.
Editor's note: We asked our panel of NBA experts, "Who will win the Northwest Division?"
1. Utah Jazz: 15 votes
Henry Abbott, ESPN.com's TrueHoop: Coach, system, point guard, big man, continuity, shooting, toughness -- they have a lot going for them. If Andrei Kirilenko fits, they are a title contender.
J.A. Adande, ESPN.com: With Carlos Boozer a potential free agent, expect him to play more like last year's regular-season All-Star than that playoff disappearing act.
Chris Broussard, ESPN Mag: A well-oiled machine.
Maurice Brooks, ESPN.com: They dominate at home, with a pair of gold-medal winners in Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams and a bunch of quality role players.
Ric Bucher, ESPN Mag: Only division winner last season with a losing road record (17-24). New focus on D should help, while homecourt advantage remains best in league.
Chad Ford, ESPN.com: The Jazz look like a lock to wrap up their division and stand as the most serious challenger to the Lakers in the West.
John Hollinger, ESPN.com: Deep, talented squad isn't getting enough cred.
Scoop Jackson, ESPN.com
Tim Legler, ESPN: Denver took a step back, and Portland is a year away.
Keith Lipscomb, ESPN.com Fantasy:
The Blazers should be lots of fun to watch, but they still are a year away. Jerry Sloan has a team deep enough to cruise through the regular season.
Jack Ramsay, ESPN Radio: Same Jerry Sloan, same old Jazz: Deron Williams, Carlos Boozer and Andrei Kirilenko are strong, while Paul Millsap, Mehmet Okur and Ronnie Brewer are effective. Brevin Knight will help off the bench. Portland will challenge.
Jalen Rose, ESPN: Jerry Sloan has a chance to win his first coach of the year award.
Chris Sheridan, ESPN.com: They can be penciled in for at least 54 wins, probably more like 58. Also, I think the decision to bring Andrei Kirilenko off the bench is a wise one, and I'll venture to say Deron Williams will be the MVP if the Jazz finish north of 61 wins.
Marc Stein, ESPN.com: Deron Williams' ankle would have to be in far worse shape to put the Jazz in any divisional danger.
David Thorpe, Scouts Inc.: Offensive execution and beasting it on the glass is the Utah way, but the Jazz know they need to upgrade their defensive awareness and intensity to truly compete for a ring.
2. Portland Trail Blazers: 3 votes
Mark Jackson, ESPN: Greg Oden is going to be a superstar, and Brandon Roy is a superstar. The team is young, but Nate McMillan is an outstanding coach.
Jackie MacMullan, ESPN: Brandon Roy is the league's best-kept secret.
Chris Palmer, ESPN Mag: Lots of hungry young guns who were one of last season's surprises. With Greg Oden healthy, their status will be elevated considerably.
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2008-09 NBA PREDICTIONS
Let the games begin. And for that matter, the story lines, too. The 2008-09 NBA season is here, and our experts make predicitons. Titles | Awards
TITLES• Atlantic Division champ
• Southeast Division champ
• Central Division champ
• Southwest Division champ
• Northwest Division champ
• Pacific Division champ
• Eastern Conference champ
• Western Conference champ
• NBA champ
AWARDS• Rookie of the Year
• Defensive Player of the Year
• Sixth Man of the Year
• Most Improved Player
• Coach of the Year
• Most Valuable Player
PREVIEWS• East Dime previews
• West Dime previews
• ESPN The Mag preview
• Simmons: Fantasy preview
• 2008-09 Preview index
SPORTSNATION• Vote: Over/Under East
• Vote: Over/Under West
• Vote: NBA season predictions
• Vote: NBA awards
• Fans: Season predictions