In the 2023-24 Fantasy Basketball Northwest Division Preview, we will look at the five teams from the division, starting with my Denver Nuggets who became NBA champions after finally getting a healthy roster around superstar center Nikola Jokic. The team handily won the division and the Western Conference last season. They look to repeat in the upcoming season, but the loss of Bruce Brown could make this more of a challenge if the young players off the bench don't step up.
A Recap Of The Rest Of The Division
The Portland Trail Blazers tried yet again to retool around superstar point guard Damian Lillard, but they just can't seem to get the right pieces. Dame looks to be on the way out, so this will be the start of their true rebuild. The Utah Jazz, who everyone presumed would be tanking and a horrendous team, came out of the gates extremely hot. This wouldn't last as they would finish 4th in the division.
The Blazers have traded Damian Lillard to the Milwaukee Bucks! Check out our Fantasy Basketball Breakdown of the three-team deal!
The Oklahoma City Thunder are a very young team. Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and his massive 31.4 points per game showed folks this was the end of their rebuild and the start of their push to be a playoff team once again. He led the team to a play-in spot despite losing 2nd overall pick Chet Holmgren to a season-ending injury. With Holmgren back and everyone else a year more experienced, I wouldn't be surprised to see them crack a spot in the playoffs as a 5th-8th seed.
Minnesota meanwhile had a rough start to the season. Karl-Anthony Towns was injured shortly into the season, and Rudy Gobert's value was questioned. Yet they eventually got into a rhythm and finished the year as the Western Conference's 8th seed. Anthony Edwards looks like the team's new leading man. They look to run it back this year making the Northwest Division one worth watching, especially for fantasy basketball purposes.
2023-24 Fantasy Basketball Northwest Division Preview
Who's new in the Division?
"I'm the most prepared player in the draft."
Scoot Henderson on the @gleagueignite preparing him for life in the NBA.
Watch on ABC/ESPN pic.twitter.com/mf5su7CIno
— NBA (@NBA) June 23, 2023
For fantasy purposes, Scoot Henderson is someone who you'll likely be seeing go as early as the third round, depending on how daring your league-mates are. Damian Lillard's departure will leave the keys to the offense in his hands.
In addition, Kris Murray, Taylor Hendricks, and Keyonte Geroge are guys to monitor as the season approaches. I could see all of them getting some good minutes in a hurry.
Lastly, any of the three Nuggets rookies could see some minutes off the bench early. Pickett is the most likely should Reggie Jackson disappoint. I also like Cason Wallace a lot. Unfortunately, with Josh Giddey and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander in front of him, I'm not sure I see the path to decent minutes.
Notables of Free Agency and Trades
Denver Nuggets: Reggie Jackson re-signs, Bruce Brown leaves for the Pacers, Jeff Green leaves for the Rockets
Utah Jazz: Jazz receive John Collins via trade
Just in case people forgot what John Collins can do:pic.twitter.com/7aFKx4olfs
— Calvin Chappell (@CHALVIN2018) September 20, 2023
John Collins is the biggest splash here. He'll likely fit in between Lauri Markannen and Walker Kessler as their power forward. I wouldn't be surprised if he also saw some minutes at the center spot, where I believe he can shine as a stretch big with great shot-blocking potential.
It will be interesting to see how Denver, Portland, and Minnesota fill in the gaps left behind by their departing role players.
Players to Target
All of these selections are based on 9 category leagues (aka 9cat), but can most likely be applied to points leagues as well. These are players that I will be actively targeting, although each team will definitely have more players that are draftable!
Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets
Jamal Murray is awesome.
Ridiculously versatile offensive weapon pic.twitter.com/jNxB7BD4nz
— Pull up shoot (@NElGHT_) September 20, 2023
Murray will be coming into this season as arguably the best current player to never make an all-star appearance. He'll likely be hungry for that as well as an All-NBA selection, which will grant him eligibility for a supermax extension in Denver.
Mike Conley, Minnesota Timberwolves
Not the flashiest pick, but Conley still has some juice. You will have to be wary of rest days, but his draft price likely won't be high enough to keep you away. Assists are always hard to come by in the late rounds and he will give you those in abundance.
Anfernee Simons, Portland Trail Blazers
Anfernee Simons is too smooth ??
⏪ to his career-high 45 PTS ?
— NBA TV (@NBATV) September 20, 2023
Simons is an absolute flamethrower on the court. His propensity to start hitting threes in bunches makes him an attractive high-upside pick. With Lillard gone, his ceiling could be even higher.
Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City Thunder
SGA has been a superstar for this team, and he's someone I would confidently take with my first-round pick as early as pick 3 or 4. He does some of everything. And now that Oklahoma City is no longer tanking, I am not concerned with him sitting games as often.
Lauri Markannen, Utah Jazz
— Overtime (@overtime) October 22, 2022
Lauri is someone I would be comfortable taking at the turn of the first and second rounds. He is clearly who they are building around and should be able to flourish as both a small forward and a power forward in this team.
Shaedon Sharpe, Portland Trail Blazers
In 15 career starts, Shaedon Sharpe has averaged 2.3 threes, 18.5 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists, per StatMuse. I project him to start this season and am looking at him as a strong breakout candidate to target in the middle rounds.
Aaron Gordon, Denver Nuggets
Gordon has had some problems at the free throw line, but in a punt free throw percentage build he is an ideal player. Per Basketball Monster, Aaron Gordon ranked 54th on a per-game basis last season in a punt free throw build. I would not expect to have to pay that price for him, but I would expect him to reach that ranking again this season.
Jaden McDaniels, Minnesota Timberwolves
Jaden McDaniels has multiple All-Defensive First Teams in his future, without a doubt pic.twitter.com/R1qZQfWRhH
— Brett Usher (@UsherNBA) September 19, 2023
McDaniels is a player that I'm expecting to see a jump in production. His defensive abilities are almost unrivaled, and it shows. Last season he averaged 0.9 steals per game and 1.0 blocks per game. He also shot over 51% from the field on 9.1 shots and rarely turned the ball over. He's not the sexiest pick, but I really like him as a guy who could be similar to Robert Covington in his all-defensive season (2017-18), who was 36th in Basketball Monster's per-game fantasy rankings.
Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
This one is obvious, but I'm also using this as a reminder that you should take him number 1. Don't get cute, just take him there. That is all.
Kelly Olynyk, Utah Jazz
KELLY OLYNYK HITS ANOTHER HUGE 3
Jazz lead by 1 with 0:54 left in OT ‼️
?: Live on the NBA App pic.twitter.com/ACasiXoruB
— NBA (@NBA) April 5, 2023
With John Collins coming in, the Jazz frontcourt is very crowded. Olynyk has been the guy people have naturally pushed out, but I think he can still have some sneaky value. He will most likely come off the bench, but as a late-round pick, I still like what he can potentially give you.
Some of these guys might end up being dropped by the end of week 1, but they could also be someone you keep for the whole year. Might as well give it a shot.
Keon Johnson, PG/SG, Portland Trail Blazers
Johnson won't be a starter for the Trail Blazers, but I could see him carving out a solid sixth-man role and putting up good end-of-bench numbers in 25-28 minutes. Portland will likely also be extremely careful with Scoot Henderson, so any small injuries could open up some opportunities for Johnson.
Jordan Clarkson, PG/SG, Utah Jazz
This almost seems like a repeat of last season. Clarkson is projected as the 139th-best player in fantasy hoops by Yahoo! despite finishing 109th last season with some very nice numbers. He lacks defensive stats and can kill you with his field goal percentage at times, but overall he's still a good player to have. I believe he will beat the projection he's being given.
Christian Braun, SG, Denver Nuggets
So awesome to see a rookie in Christian Braun have a huge game on this NBA Finals stage. pic.twitter.com/D1sDZjAnMz
— Kevin O'Connor (@KevinOConnorNBA) June 8, 2023
Braun is my candidate to fill in for a lot of what Bruce Brown gave the Denver Nuggets. Braun is extremely athletic and a great defender. His cutting ability should get him a lot of easy buckets, and his perimeter defense and work rate will lead to a lot of steals.
Enjoy this 2023-24 Fantasy Basketball Northwest Division Preview? Check out our Pacific Division Preview.