Contenders vs Pretenders


Keith Allison | Wikimedia Commons

Jason Chen

With the 2022-23 NBA season nearing its end, the league has been as competitive as ever. However, there is a need to differentiate true contenders from pretenders.

Contenders are a team that has the capabilities of winning the season completely. Pretenders are teams that look as if they can win, but in reality, cannot.

The Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics are teams that one can confidently call true contenders.

The Bucks have the best player in the league, Giannis Antetokounmpo. With averages of 31.2 points and 12 rebounds per game, Antetokounmpo has solidified himself as the best two-way player. The roster is also solid with Jrue Holiday and Kris Middleton as his supporting cast. Being the third best defensive team while having championship experience, it is hard to deny that this team is a contender.

The Boston Celtics are the reigning Eastern Conference champions. Boston is perhaps better than last year with Jayson Tatum playing at MVP level on the best defensive team. Monstrous defensive players like Marcus Smart, Robert Williams and Al Horford hold down the team, while Malcolm Brogdon and Jaylen Brown provide offense. This allows them to be the best in the East and to be considered a true contender.

The pretenders are the Phoenix Suns and Memphis Grizzlies. While these teams are talented, they lack key elements that make them a true contender.

The Phoenix Suns adding Kevin Durant arguably makes them the most talented team in the NBA. However, even with Chris Paul, Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, they lack the necessary chemistry, and there are not enough games left in the season.

The traded pieces were a significant part of the team rotation as well. Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson were solid players with key offensive skills and good defense. The Suns need more time to be a true contender.

The Memphis Grizzlies are an up-and-coming young team with Ja Morant at the helm. Dillon Brooks, Steven Adams and Jaren Jackson Jr. are all players that contribute significantly. However, they lack the experience of a deep playoff team to know how to handle difficult situations. The Memphis Grizzlies are the worst free throwing shooting team with 72%, and free throws are crucial during an intense playoff game.