How OKC Thunder compare vs. adversaries- dissecting Sports Illustrated top 100 by conference, division, team

Russell Westbrook, Paul George, OKC Thunder (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Russell Westbrook, Paul George, OKC Thunder (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images) /
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OKC Thunder
Joe Ingles, Paul George, OKC Thunder (Photo by J Pat Carter/Getty Images) /

Northwest Division:

Clearly the Northwest is the toughest division in the NBA with the most ranked players (23) making the list. Further evidence to this fact — the NW is the only division with all five teams garnering four of more players on the list. And, other than the Atlantic the only division with three teams garnering five or more ranked players on the list. Given the number of ranked players every squad has a shot at a post season berth and since the teams all face each other four times, it theoretically means these five squads also have the toughest schedules.

Based on the rankings this division also houses the most talented players ranking the highest number (12) of players ranked top 50 or 24 percent of this tier.

Anyone of these teams could conceivably reach the Western Conference Finals. Every team in the NW has depth although Thibs Wolves are channeling the Bulls circa 2014-15. Of the other four squads two feature young teams on the rise (Nuggets, Jazz) while the Thunder and Blazers feature players in their prime surrounded by youthful assets.

Early takes have the OKC Thunder projected to vie for a top three Western Conference seed and there are some, albeit biased TI staff who contend it might be a top two seed. But, for those looking for a hot take, consider selecting a team from this division as your Cinderella squad. Malone’s Nuggets have missed the post season by two cumulative games the past two seasons and seem poised to take a rather large leap this year.

And, while some still claim OKC losing in the first round was a massive let down, I invite you to analyze the Jazz prowess with a healthy Gobert for a full season. Donovan Mitchell returns and Quin Snyder is of the same coaching savant ilk as Pops. Basically this squad is primed to become a perennial home seeded squad and the rankings bear fruit in this regard.

Bottom line, if you’re looking to figure out your NBA League Pass guilty pleasure teams to watch early earmark the Northwest Division.

Breakdown by tier:

  • two players in top 10 (Russell Westbrook makes the cut though his seventh place ranking might be a bit low. Jimmy Butler takes the other spot with Paul George just ranking outside the top ten.)
  • five players ranked 11 – 25
  • five players in 26 to 50 range
  • eight  players in 51 -75 range
  • three  players in 76-100 range

Denver Nuggets

Minnesota TimberWolves:

OKC Thunder:

Portland Blazers:

Utah Jazz: