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Oklahoma City Thunder: Northwest Division weekly power rankings, Russell Westbrook serves notice

Which teams and players in the Northwest Division reigned supreme?

NBA: Indiana Pacers at Oklahoma City Thunder
This week, Russell Westbrook was on a triple-double tear
Mark D. Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Even though Russell Westbrook authored another spellbinding triple-double, the Oklahoma City Thunder fell to Indiana in overtime. This costly setback allowed Denver to seize the top spot in this edition of the Northwest Division power rankings.

As the division sits in a state of flux, which teams and players offered surprise performances? Read on to learn all the details from the week that was.

  1. Denver Nuggets (5-8, 4th place overall)
  • Record: 2-1
  • Points Per Game: 112
  • Opp. PPG: 102.6
  • Differential: +9.4

Led by the exceptional triumvirate of Wilson Chandler (23.3 ppg, 8.3 rpg, 3.0 apg), Emmanuel Mudiay (16.7 ppg, 7.7 apg, 6.3 rpg), and Danilo Gallinari (17.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 3.7 apg) the high-octane Nuggets continued to gel while amassing the Northwest Division’s sole winning record this past week.

Denver’s only damage came via a razor-thin two-point loss to the 8-4 Toronto Raptors.

The Nuggets’ defense was exceptionally stringent opposite Utah. Overall, Michael Malone’s crew limited the Jazz to just 38.8% shooting, and 7-of-26 three pointers made.

The offensively exploding Nuggets will seek to carry this momentum into Monday’s tilt vs. Chicago.

2. Oklahoma City Thunder (8-6, 1st place overall)

  • Record: 2-2
  • Points Per Game: 107
  • Opp. PPG: 106.75
  • Differential: +0.25

This week, Oklahoma City surfaced from a four-game losing streak by claiming consecutive wins. Unfortunately, these victories were book-ended by a pair of ugly setbacks.

OKC was outmatched by Detroit and Indiana iterations bereft of cornerstone contributors.

However, amid otherwise tepid play, the singular brilliance of Russell Westbrook — back-to-back triple doubles — continued unabated. In four scintillating outings, Westbrook constructed a towering stat-line of 31 ppg, 11.3 apg, and 11 rpg while netting 47.9% of his attempts.

While the gleam of Westbrook’s personal exploits remain untarnished, his team’s mediocre .500 stretch for the week screams to the lack of consistent peripheral performances flanking his hard-charging vessel.

Outside of Victor Oladipo’s creditable offerings of 19.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, and 4.5 apg, no other Thunder was able to ignite a spark when most needed. Furthermore, Oklahoma City’s once impermeable defense exhibited egregious openings.

The Thunder will attempt to regain its bearings opposite LAL Tuesday night.

3. Minnesota Timberwolves (4-8, 5th place overall)

  • Record: 1-2
  • Points Per Game: 96.3 ppg
  • Opp. PPG: 98
  • Differential: -1.7

Throughout a trying week — punctuated by an inept 71-point performance vs. Memphis — the youthful Timberwolves experienced the requisite growing pains associated with a developing core.

The blossoming duo of Andrew Wiggins and Karl-Anthony Towns radiated vs. Charlotte and Philadelphia (110 points combined) yet fell flat against the Grizzlies.

It appears Tom Thibodeau’s young assemblage will need to find a palatable balance between offense and defense moving forward.

The Timberwolves continue that trek forward Monday night vs. Boston.

4. Portland Trail Blazers (8-7, 2nd place overall)

  • Record 1-3
  • Points Per Game: 106.75
  • Opp. PPG: 115.25
  • Differential: -8.5

Before rebounding vs. wayward Brooklyn, in the team’s previous three encounters, the TrailBlazers were outscored 352-298. In the wake of this sobering stretch, All-Star Damian Lillard shot an ice-cold 34% and 28% from the field and three-point-line respectively.

Further compounding the Blazers’ travails was the vacillating futility of both its starting front-line and reserve unit. These unmitigated factors proved too great a burden for even the stellar performance of C.J. McCollum (22.3 ppg, 4apg, 46/44/100 shooting) to overcome.

Through 15 games, the touted Trailblazers have failed to meet the lofty expectations afforded them following a thrilling 2016 Western Conference Semi-final vs. Golden State.

Portland will attempt to regain momentum Tuesday evening vs. New York

5. Utah Jazz (7-8, 3rd overall)

  • Record: 0-4
  • Points Per Game: 91.5
  • Opp. PPG: 100.75
  • Differential: -9.25

After a serviceable 7-4 start, the free-falling Utah Jazz were handily deprived of victory this week. Though still gaining frequent defensive stops, the crux of Utah’s ineptitude is pronounced offensive futility.

The combined struggles of errant star Gordon Hayward (13.8 ppg, 15.8 fga, 2.3 tov, -1.3 plus/minus on 31/21/78% shooting) along with Boris Diaw (3.7 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 16.6 mpg) and the lack of points generated when Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors share the floor is patently evident.

Furthermore, George Hill’s prolonged absence has further sidetracked a once functional Jazz collective.

With two off days before taking the court opposite Denver, Quinn Snyder’s reeling bunch is in serious need of internal evaluation.

Northwest Division Performer of the Week: Russell Westbrook (31 ppg, 11.3 apg, 11 rpg)

Northwest Division Disappointing Player of the Week: Damian Lillard (23% 3PT, 4/2.8 assist to turnover ratio, -11.8 plus/minus)

Team to Watch This Week: Denver Nuggets

  • Weekly All-Northwest Division Team:
  • PG: Russell Westbrook
  • SG: Victor Oladipo
  • SF: Wilson Chandler
  • PF: Gorgui Deng
  • C: Karl-Anthony Towns