Who are the real contenders this NBA Season?


Erik Drost

Erik Drost | Wikimedia Commons

Fahim Khan

The NBA is finally back, bringing hope for many teams that this is their year to win it all. With teams like the Utah Jazz and Portland Trail Blazers off to good starts, there are several fan bases that are feeling good about their teams right now.

But ultimately the championship level teams find ways to set themselves apart as the playoffs come around, despite their regular season performances. Who are those championship level teams this season?

Los Angeles Clippers

Coach Tyronn Lue and returning superstar Kawhi Leonard give the Clippers championship experience, and nearly every one of their players are versatile. They have forwards such as Nicolas Batum, Paul George and Marcus Morris Sr., who can score and defend multiple positions. Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard and John Wall are all seasoned guards who can shoot, drive and distribute the ball.

Overall, the Clippers are perfectly structured for the modern game and have multiple veterans, too. The only question is whether the team can stay healthy and be consistent all year.

Milwaukee Bucks 

With the “Greek Freak” Giannis Antetokounmpo on their team, the Milwaukee Bucks will likely be contenders for a very long time. Their advantage is that they have retained a majority of the players from their championship run in 2021, including Bobby Portis, Brook Lopez, Khris Middleton and Jrue Holiday.

Milwaukee not only has the key ingredients to win a championship, like shooting and defending, but they also have players who understand their roles and have championship experience. This chemistry gives them an automatic advantage over a majority of NBA teams.

Boston Celtics 

Last season’s finalists are getting their suffocating defense back, but this time they’ve added Malcolm Brogdon, who might fill the facilitator role that they were missing. The biggest question is whether they can overcome losing Coach Ime Udoka.

Jayson Tatum, unlike his teammate Jaylen Brown, showed his inexperience with several lackluster performances in the NBA Finals last season. But both Brown and Tatum have made huge strides over their young careers.

From losing to a mediocre Cleveland Cavaliers team in 2018 to going to the Finals and taking the Golden State Warriors to six games, it is safe to assume these two budding stars will continue to grow and help Boston to be a consistent contender.

Golden State Warriors 

The Warriors have had an eventful offseason to say the least, from winning the championship and securing their young stars Jordan Poole and Andrew Wiggins long-term, to dealing with Draymond Green punching Poole in practice.

But the Warriors are still reigning champions. Since 2015, when Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Green have all been healthy and active, they have yet to be beaten. The Warriors showed last year that it is entirely possible to develop young players while still competing for championships.

The Warriors’ off-ball movement and small-ball offense allows them to play positionless basketball, making them extremely difficult to guard. And on the other end of the court, they have several players who can guard multiple positions.

Their biggest question is whether their draft picks Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and James Wiseman can perform well enough to overcome the losses of Gary Payton Jr. and Otto Porter Jr.

Dark Horse Contenders

The Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Pelicans are dark horse contenders. Both teams are loaded, extremely well coached and play a very physical brand of basketball that is necessary to advance deep into the playoffs.

But Memphis doesn’t have a clear number two option supporting star guard Ja Morant, and the Pelicans are still very young. Despite these limitations, both teams can make a deep run in the playoffs.