This is going to be a season for the ages.
Another season of NBA basketball is upon us and for the first time in a while, it appears as though the title race is wide open. For the last five years, the Golden State Warriors have been casting a gargantuan shadow on the league which has suppressed numerous other teams from prospering. Having said that, the Warriors were finally dethroned last year by the Toronto Raptors thanks to a plethora of injuries.
In the summer, the Warriors spontaneously combusted as Kevin Durant fled to Brooklyn while the team’s rock, Andre Iguodala, was shipped to Memphis. With the Warriors in disarray, there are multiple teams who can win it all this year and fans are ready to sink their teeth into yet another season of basketball.
Finding ten teams that can win a title in any sport can prove to be a tall task but we attempted to do it anyway. So without further ado, here are some teams to watch out for this season.
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Before you completely roll your eyes and head to the comments section, just hear me out on this one. The team did not look particularly strong in their debut against the Philadelphia 76ers but they have the pieces to make a slight disruption in the playoffs. For instance, the team added Kemba Walker and Enes Kanter this season, who are stars in their own right at their given positions.
Meanwhile, young burgeoning stars like Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum are due for some impressive seasons. Add a healthy Gordon Hayward into the mix and you’ve got yourself quite a formidable squad.
Of all the teams on this list, they’re the least likely to win anything but this season, you really never know.
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Nikola Jokic and the Denver Nuggets were easily the biggest surprise of the 2018-2019 season. No one saw the Nuggets finishing second in the Western Conference while winning a playoff round and bringing another to seven games. In just a few seasons, Jokic has become one of the best power forwards in the entire NBA and is as motivated as ever to bring his team to the promised land.
Aside from Jokic, players like Jamal Murray, Malik Beasley, and Paul Millsap have filled their roles beautifully and have created one of the most complete teams in the NBA. Michael Porter Jr. is expected to return this season as well which will certainly inject some offense into the team.
This team still hasn’t reached its full potential and when it does, the league will have to be on notice.
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If there was ever a team where you had to say it’s no our never, it would be the Houston Rockets. For three seasons now, the Rockets have been the definition of a playoff choker. During the 2018 playoffs, James Harden and his squad were close to cementing their place in the NBA Finals but missed 27 straight three-pointers in Game 7 of the Western Conference Finals.
Now, Harden is as motivated as ever to prove he’s still the best scorer the game has seen since Michael Jordan. Not to mention, Russell Westbrook is now on the Rockets thanks to a shocking trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder. If the Russ and Harden can rekindle their OKC chemistry, this offense might be the most unstoppable entity the league has ever seen.
With that being said, this team could also be a complete bust. There is no telling how these pieces will mesh and if the power dynamics will be figured out come playoff time.
Los Angeles Clippers
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Of all the teams on this list, the Clippers have the best shot to actually win. Nothing is guaranteed in sports but if you’re one of those people who like to bet, the Clippers would be the safest option.
It’s simple as to why this is the case. During the offseason, the Clippers secured the talents of the undeniable force that is Mr. Kawhi Leonard. Leonard singlehandedly led the Toronto Raptors to a championship last season and is expected to bring more of the same to the 2019-20 campaign. Meanwhile, feeling the heat unleashed upon him by Damian Lillard, Paul George forced his way out of OKC and is now the Robin to Kawhi’s Batman.
Once you factor in pieces like Montrezl Harrell, Lou Williams, Landry Shamet, and Patrick Beverley, it becomes clear that the Clippers are the team to beat. If the Clippers were to lose in an early playoff round, the entire postseason would be busted wide open.
Los Angeles Lakers
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Due to the historic accomplishments of the franchise, the Lakers are one of the most talked-about teams in the league and usually, it’s for good reason. Last season, pundits had them as title contenders simply because of the presence of LeBron James. Of course, the team was a colossal failure as they couldn’t even make it to the playoffs.
This season, the Lakers’ prospects appear to be much more prosperous as they now have pieces like Anthony Davis, Danny Green, Dwight Howard, and Avery Bradley. While the roster is better than last year’s, the team is actually quite top-heavy and lacks the depth required to go on a real deep playoff run.
Regardless, they are still a real contender because of LeBron and AD. James has made do with much worse while in Cleveland so for now, he gets the benefit of the doubt. Time will tell whether or not he still deserves it.
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Of all the teams in the league this season, perhaps the Bucks are the biggest victims of high expectations and what’s at stake if they don’t win. Giannis Antetokounmpo, otherwise known as the Greek Freak, is coming off of a season where he won league MVP and carried his team to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Aside from Antetokounmpo, the Bucks don’t have many stars but they do have quite a bit of help thanks to Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, and the Lopez brothers. Whenever Giannis is on the court, he can do some serious damage thanks to demoralizing dunks and scintillating blocks. Even if his supporting cast is lacking, he can more than makeup for it with his unrelenting determination.
The Bucks are a case of a team that has to win now because a future might not exist. Giannis is due for a new contract and if the Bucks can’t get it done, he might be out the door.
God save us all.
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Despite years of being in the league’s proverbial dog house, the 76ers have made like the Phoenix and have risen from the ashes. For numerous seasons, the Sixers were awful as their general manager promised the fans to “trust the process” and to believe that better days are ahead. Well, those days are here and they are glorious.
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are the two young players at the forefront of this team and have showcased tremendous talent thus far. The rest of the roster contains players like Tobias Harris, Josh Richardson, and even Al Horford which will certainly bolster the squad’s abilities at playing on both ends of the court.
As the playoffs roll around, look for the Bucks and the Sixers to be the standouts in the East. Either of these two teams could hang with the best of the West, so watch out. If the 76ers actually pull it off, the process will finally be complete and all of Philadelphia will be right there on Broad Street to witness the parade.
Portland Trail Blazers
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Considering what the Blazers were able to do in the playoffs last season, the entire NBA should be on high-alert. Damian Lillard has proven himself to be one of the top three point guards in the entire league all while creating a powerhouse dynamic duo with CJ McCollum. These two are deadly when placed on the court together and are the reason why the Oklahoma City Thunder were in shambles this offseason.
Making it back to the Western Conference Finals isn’t going to be easy but they can certainly pull it off. Once Jusuf Nurkic comes back, the team will be miles ahead of where they are now. Meanwhile, Hassan Whiteside, Pau Gasol, and Zach Collins will be able to hold it down when it comes to providing support on both offense and defense.
Navigating through the Western Conference can be an uphill battle at times but if there is any team equipped to do it, it’s the Blazers.
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After losing a player as prolific as Kawhi Leonard, it’s hard to believe the Raptors could really do much of anything this season. However, completely writing off the Raptors as a flash in the pan would be a blasphemous misjudgment of talent.
Kyle Lowry is in the top tier of the league’s point guards, while Pascal Siakim has proven himself to be a breakout star who is on pace to become one of the best power forwards in the game. In addition to these two, Fred VanVleet came out of nowhere in the playoffs and has carried his momentum into the early stages of the season.
If you still think that’s not enough, then consider the fact the team boasts role players like Marc Gasol, Serge Ibaka, and OG Anunoby. Will beating teams like the Bucks and the 76ers be difficult? Absolutely. All I’m saying is don’t count these guys out just yet. They’re going to be very tough to beat.
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Thanks to where they’re located, the Utah Jazz haven’t exactly been the most talked about team in basketball over the last few years. Surprisingly, that all changed this offseason as they quickly became media darlings who were suddenly on the fast track to being a serious contender in the Western Conference.
This all stems from the fact they signed Mike Conley in the offseason which helped provide an anchor to the team’s offense. The Jazz have young talents like Donovan Mitchell and also have two-time defensive player of the year award-winner, Rudy Gobert. When you combine all of these pieces together, you get a pretty dangerous squad.
Not to mention, the Jazz have strung together some impressive regular seasons recently so all signs point to some improvement this year. If there was ever a darkhorse team, it would be the Jazz
Let us know in the comments who you think is going to win the championship this season. Are there any teams you felt were missing from the list?