The new NBA season is upon us. With a new campaign comes the promise of what could be for teams that feel they’re close to the precipice. Since Kevin Durant left the Warriors in 2019, it feels like any franchise could win a title, which appears to be true, as there have been four different champions in the same number of years.
Golden State managed to climb back to the top of the mountain, powered by the transcendent talent of Stephen Curry. The Dubs have a great chance to repeat as champions, but some teams are strongly positioned to knock them off.
The obvious choice to triumph at the end of the season is the Milwaukee Bucks. A former two-time MVP who appears to be a man amongst boys gives them a distinct advantage. Giannis Antetokounmpo is much like what Erling Haaland has been for Manchester City this season. Similarities continue as many betting tips today suggest City will win the Premier League at 3/10, and Betfair Sportsbook has the Bucks as the favourite to win the NBA Championship at 5/1.
Nevertheless, history has taught us that having one superstar player isn’t enough in the NBA – just ask a young LeBron James. The Bucks have a talented roster, with Jrue Holiday and Khris Middleton forming a big three with the Greek Freak. Most pundits even feel they would have made it to the finals last year if they had a healthy Middleton for the season. If they can avoid injuries, expect a deep run by the Bucks.
One team that could legitimately challenge the Bucks in the eastern conference is the Philadelphia 76ers. Not only that, but they could give the Warriors a run for their money if they met in the finals.
The Sixers have felt like the NBA’s nearly team for quite some time now. After years of tanking for better draft picks, they finally got their cornerstone in Joel Embiid. His supporting cast has changed around him, from Jimmy Butler and Ben Simmons to James Harden and Tobias Harris, but this could be the deepest squad he has ever had. Harden looks healthy and back to his best. After struggling with a hamstring injury last season, early signs suggest he will be even better this year.
Many people have plenty to prove on this squad, from head coach Doc Rivers to star players Harden and Embiid. But teams with their backs against the wall often produce the most splendid performances.
Los Angeles Lakers
Speaking of something to prove. The Lakers, as a franchise, have something to prove. After going all in to get Anthony Davis before the 2019/20 season, they came together in the NBA bubble to win the championship. Every other season LeBron James has been there has been a disappointment. They thought a big 3 with Russell Westbrook would return them to the championship. But the trade for Westbrook last year, a desperate move to energise the team, didn’t yield the results they had hoped.
That being said, never count out LeBron James. Even going into his 20th season, with dysfunction around him, it wouldn’t be farfetched to see him hoist the Larry O’Brien and Bill Russell trophies at the end of the year. Call it a hunch, or call it believing in the second-best player ever; it’s worth getting behind!
The NBA season promises to be another spectacular year. With many historical milestones to be had, it’ll be worth watching every step of the way. One thing is for sure, predicting who will be the last team standing is harder than ever.