Northwest Division Round Up: Made Up Trade Rumors

      Earlier this week I posted my weekly Central Division wrap up, including trades to improve each team in that division. (Read it hear if you haven’t already Central Division Round Up). For some reason unbeknownst to me, it was well received. In an effort to give readers something they enjoy, I will make up trades that I think would benefit each team in the Northwest. To improve teams in these proposed trades I am looking at a team’s area of weakness then trying to find a player from another team that would lessen that weakness. To create these trades I enlisted the help of The ESPN Trade Machine.

NORTHWEST

W

L

DIFF

L10

21

5

.808

14-2

7-3

2-1

11-3

105.1

96.2

+8.8

Lost 1

9-1

15

13

.536

7

8-1

7-12

2-3

10-7

102.0

100.3

+1.7

Won 1

6-4

13

12

.520

7 ½

9-4

4-8

2-1

9-6

97.2

99.4

-2.2

Won 5

7-3

13

12

.520

7 ½

8-3

5-9

2-2

7-5

95.5

94.4

+1.1

Lost 1

6-4

14

14

.500

8

9-2

5-12

1-2

9-10

98.6

99.2

-0.6

Lost 2

5-5


The Oklahoma City Thunder
http://www.nba.com/thunder/
This Week’s Games: 2-1:
1. Win vs San Antonio 107-93
2. Win @ Atlanta 100-92
3. Loss @ Minnesota 99-93

Next Week’s Games: Projected Outcome 2-0
1. @ Miami on Tuesday (Christmas Day) at 5:30 PM
2 vs Dallas on Thursday 8:00 PM

OKC has been one of the best teams in the league all year. They held the longest winning streak in the league until they lost to Minnesota this week. I expect them to beat Miami in a finals rematch of last season. Miami has had trouble playing defense and rebounding against big front lines this year. Ibaka and Perkins will kill the Heat on the glass and that will be the difference in the game. Despite the potential return of Dirk Nowitzki the Thunder will be too much for Dallas to handle.

Trade Machine Help:
Biggest Weakness: 30th in turnover percentage

To say that the Thunder have any weaknesses would probably be picking nits at this point. They are the best team in the league. Statistically their biggest weakness has been turnovers. OKC is last in the league in turnovers per offensive trip (they make up for this with stifling defense and an excellent shooting percentage). 
The biggest way they could improve their turnovers is to upgrade at the back up point guard position. To this point in the year Eric Maynor does not look to be back to where he was before his injury. While Maynor will again be a good player, a championship caliber team like OKC might not be able to wait. Ramon Sessions would provide a great upgrade to the Thunder’s back up spot. Against Minnesota Kevin Martin did not play due to injury. Without him OKC looked to lack a go to bench scoring option. Sessions would help fill this void if the injury prone Martin went down. 
Lamb would be a difficult casualty of this trade. The Thunder, however, are a team competing for a championship and anything that puts them over the top is worth it. Charlotte, does not look to be going anywhere soon and would jump at the opportunity to add a talent like Lamb. In the end I expect Maynor to regain his form and either Reggie Jackson or Lamb to step up in the bench scoring role. However, if it gets closer to the trade deadline and these things haven’t happened I wouldn’t be surprised if they pursued a trade similar to that.
The Denver Nuggets
This Week’s Games: 3-1
1. Win @ Sacramento 122-97
2. Win vs San Antonio 112-106
3. Loss @ Portland 101-93
4. Win vs Charlotte 110-88
Next Week’s Games: Projected Outcome 2-1
1. @ LA Clippers
2. vs LA Lakers
3. @ Dallas
Denver has moved up a spot from last week after a solid showing going 3-1. Their only loss came to the hottest team in the division (Portland). Although, they have not improved their defense to the degree you would hope they at least got back to their high scoring ways scoring over 110 in all three wins. I expect Denver to split the games against the LA teams and then beat Dallas. On Christmas day I predict an upset in which Denver continues their hot offense and outscores the Clippers. The Lakers will beat the Nuggets with a super human effort from Kobe on the big Christmas stage. Denver will then go to Dallas and turn the game into a track meet in which Dallas can’t keep up.

Trade Machine Fix:
Biggest Weakness:
25th in defensive rebounding percentage

Trade:
To Denver: Anderson Varejao                                                                To Cleveland: JaVale McGee

Unfortunately, this deal could not be given its due via a trade machine graphic at this point. Due to Base Year Compensation rules McGee can not be traded until January 15th, because, he was signed this off season. Once it becomes the 15th it would behoove Denver to inquire about Varejao’s availability. 

Denver’s biggest weakness is allowing the other team to score too many points. The biggest reason for this is their inability to finish defensive possessions with a rebound. JaVale McGee for all his athleticism and length is not a very good defensive rebounder. Due partly to athleticism he does not always box out, this is a big problem on the offensive boards. McGee gets only 15.9 % of his team’s available defensive rebounds. This would be remedied by a trade for Varejao who is currently third in league (minnimum 400 minutes) in defensive rebounding percentage at 30.6%. Varejao would also help Denver defensively so that they wouldn’t be out of position to give up rebounds. Varejao would take up residence as the defensive leader in Denver, adding to an already stout defensive lineup.

Cleveland would entertain this deal mainly for the potential of McGee. McGee’s ceiling is much higher than that of Side Show Bob. The Cavs aren’t going to be contending anytime soon and should bet on potential at this point. Not saying this deal will happen it just is a move that would make sense for both teams.

The Portland Trailblazers
This Week’s Games: 3-0
1. Win vs New Orleans 95-94
2. Win vs Denver 101-93
3. Win vs Phoenix 96-93
Next Week’s Games: Projected Outcome 3-0
1. @ Sacramento on Sunday 9:00
2. vs Sacramento on Wednesday 10:00
3. @ LA Lakers on Friday at 10:30 (all times eastern)
Portland has won 5 in a row and we expect that to turn to 8 by the end of the week. Portland is playing better defense recently and is quickly gaining confidence. Damian Lillard seems to be the real deal, besides the rookie Portland has talent at every position. Before the winning streak all the Blazers rotation players were putting up good statistics but their team defense was lacking. During the win streak their team defense got to the point that they are at least competing defensively. Sacramento is a team in disarray and I expect a hot Blazer squad to take full advantage of this. They will play the Lakers after the Lakers get a big win on Christmas day. Expect the Lakers to be too proud of themselves from Christmas to give 100% effort (this lack of effort has been prevalent throughout the year) and will fall to a scrappy Portland team.

Trade Machine Help:
Biggest Weakness: 23rd in points per 100 possession given up, 28th in total rebounds.


The Blazers problems start at the defensive end. Which doesn’t exactly make sense with how their players are regarded individually around the league. Batum and Matthews make up a very good defensive wing combination, LaMarcus Aldridge plays solid defense using his size and length to bother shots and Lillard had the back ground as a plus defender coming out of college. However, to this point their individual defenders have not come together to form a good team defense. The problem here is the lack of a center to oversee the defense and protect the paint. Hickson has been playing well this year but he is miscast as a center for this team (since their best player Aldridge happens to play JJ’s natural position). Gortat would anchor the back line of Portland’s defense and help with their rebounding woes.

For Phoenix a package of Meyers Leonard, (young athletic center replacement for Gortat), Luke Babbitt (underrated scorer that is still developing), Eliot Williams (an injury plagued athletic second year player) and a 1st should be enough for Gortat. For Gortat they would get three very talented young players to encourage the rebuilding process. 


The Minnesota Timberwolves
This Week’s Games: 2-2
1. Win vs Dallas 114-106 (in OT)
2. Loss @ Orlando 102-93
3. Loss @ Miami 103-92
4. Win vs Oklahoma City 99-93
Next Week’s Games: Projected Outcome 2-0
1. @ New York on Sunday at 5:00 pm
2. vs Houston on Wednesday at 8:00 pm
An up and down week for Minnesota. The week started off promising with the return of Ricky Rubio in a win against Dallas. Rubio sat out the next game (because it was the second night of a back to back) and Minnesota looked less than average against an average Orlando team. The team then faltered against the defending champs after failing to slow the pace against the Heat. Normally, it is good for the Wolves to get out and run but against Miami a slower pace would allow them to exploit their size advantage. The week ended with their signature win of the year, beating the Thunder to snap their 12 game winning streak. This team is finally getting healthy and I expect their book end games to be a better indication as to their potential than the middle two. To this effect, I expect them to  beat New York and Houston this week.

Trade Machine Help
Biggest Weakness: 30th in three point percentage

Kevin Love made it clear while venting his frustrations that it was the time for the T-Wolves to win. Minnesota has very good ball movement but they lack in their ability to space the floor with three point shooters. Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington are both three point shooters. 

The Orlando Magic are a solid team with a ceiling of the 9th seed in the Eastern Conference. They need to get ride of some of their larger contracts so they can bottom out. Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington are both playoff tested veterans that elite teams could always use. If the T-Wolves dangled Derrick Williams for those two the Magic would have to bite in order to expedite the rebuilding process. Brandon Roy who unfortunately can’t stay healthy would be thrown in to make the salaries work 

Afflalo would not only be an excellent addition as a three point shooter he would help bolster an already stout Minnesota defense. Harrington would provide some back up three minutes and help carry the scoring load when Love is on the bench. Although Harrington is currently hurt, I wouldn’t be shocked if being traded to a contending team would make his knee injury feel better, quicker than it would in Orlando.



The Utah Jazz
This Week’s Games: 1-3
1. Loss vs Memphis 99-86
2. Win @ Brooklyn 92-90
3. Loss @ Indiana 104-84
4. Loss @ Miami 105-89

Next Week’s Games: Projected Outcome 1-2
1. @ Orlando Sunday 5:00
2. vs Golden State Wednesday at 9:00
3. vs Los Angeles 9:00

Sometimes a losing streak is dictated by how you play, but other times it more about who you have played. Last week they played arguably four top 10 teams. Orlando will be a chance for Utah to get back on track after four tough games. After that their brutal schedule continues with two games again top 5 teams. Utah will right the ship with a tough week behind them but it won’t be next week.

Trade Machine Help:
Biggest Weakness: 24th in points allowed per 100 possessions, 26th in defensive rebounding percentage



Utah faces a similar problem to Portland. They do not have back end shot blocker/ defender for their defense to fall back on. Al Jefferson is great offensively and as a rebounder but he is not a stalwart defensively. Jefferson, a free agent after the year probably will not stick long term. (especially if he can’t lead them to the playoffs this year_

Varejao would fit in nicely in Utah. He is the perfect player to mentor Kanter and Favors in their formative years, shaping them into a top defensive unit in the future. Bass will help strengthen the Jazz bench and give them protection if they decide to move Mislap. Both are quality veteran big men who are signed at reasonable contracts.

Jefferson would be a big upgrade to the Celtics who are in need of a legit big man to pair next to Kevin Garnett. Jefferson started his career in Boston, visits to train there every summer and has stated before his interest in coming back. Boston would be willing to give up more knowing that Jefferson would likely re-sign there.

Cleveland would receive two good young players in Courtney Lee and Jared Sullinger, $2.1 MM in savings this year, and a first round pick from both teams. Varejao is signed for 3 more years but it is not a certainty that the Cavs will be contenders by then. The Cavs in this deal would get more young talented players and draft picks to help build a future with Kyrie Irving.

Outro
Thank you to all our readers. If you like this article please read the First Northwest Division Round Up or any of our other articles. Look for my weekly post on Roundball Direct about college basketball if that is your thing. Although our podcast took a week break it will be out next week, be sure to look out for that.

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