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8 NBA teams with a real chance to win this year’s championship

8 NBA teams with a real chance to win this year’s championship

Last season, one can say order was restored in the professional basketball landscape when the Golden State Warriors reclaimed their place as NBA champions. As a new season is close to tipping off, there are a number of teams looking to knock the Warriors off its perch at the top of the NBA’s food chain. 

The 2022-23 NBA regular season tips off on Oct. 18 as those very Warriors face off against LeBron James and his Los Angeles Lakers. In addition, a pair of Eastern Conference titans will square off in Boston earlier that day when the Celtics host the Philadelphia 76ers. 

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Who are a few teams to be on the lookout for as the season nears getting underway? Here are eight teams with legitimate chances to come away with a Larry O’Brien trophy at the season’s close in June 2023. 

Phoenix Suns

The bubble may prove to be the best thing that happened to the Suns. Ever since, Phoenix won the first two games of the 2021 NBA Finals and returned to the playoffs last season as the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference. 

With a cast of characters that includes Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton, coach Monty Williams’ Suns team should once again be real threats to win a championship. Away from the court, the Suns are looking to trade Jae Crowder and may have a new owner with the announcement that Robert Sarver will soon sell the franchise (as well as the WNBA’s Phoenix Mercury).

Miami Heat

The Heat were the top Eastern Conference team from 2021-22, which should be no surprise to anyone — given the team represented the conference in the Finals in the bubble. 

Miami has been mentioned as a possible trade destination for Crowder, and he would be a worthwhile addition to a Heat assembling that includes Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro and Kyle Lowry — who was sidelined from several games throughout Miami’s playoff run last season due to a hamstring injury. Coach Erik Spoelstra is regarded as one of the league’s premier coaches, and his team is sure to be in the spotlight as possible title contenders.

Memphis Grizzlies

The 2021-22 season was a banner campaign for Memphis, as the team tied its all-time franchise record for wins with 56 victories. The Grizzlies also won 56 contests in 2012-13 — a season that saw Memphis advance to the Western Conference Finals. 

Of course, all things for the Grizzlies revolve around Ja Morant, but Memphis also boasts a highly talented team that includes Jaren Jackson Jr., Desmond Bane, Steven Adams and Dillon Brooks. Coach Taylor Jenkins will be entering his fourth season at the helm, and each has seen a larger win output than the previous season. 

Boston Celtics

The recent drama involving Boston head coach Ime Udoka, who received a yearlong suspension from the league, has been a hot topic among many basketball aficionados. Joe Mazzulla will assume the coaching duties from Udoka in his stead. 

If the Udoka saga does not become a season-long distraction for the Celtics, the team that sports green will once again be a threat to raise another championship banner to TD Garden’s rafters. After all, Boston represented the Eastern Conference in the Finals last season and returns a team that includes Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart and veteran Al Horford.

Golden State Warriors

The Warriors, of course, were the team the Celtics faced off against in last season’s Finals, and the team who took home championship hardware for the first time since the Bay Area franchise moved from Oakland to the new Chase Center in San Francisco. 

Until last season, the one box that was left unchecked on Stephen Curry’s list of career accomplishments was NBA Finals MVP. Opposing teams also have to deal with Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins, Jonathan Kuminga and Jordan Poole, among others. Coach Steve Kerr has won four championships as a head coach (along with the five he won as a player).

Milwaukee Bucks

Prior to the Warriors winning last season, the Bucks were the team that took home championship hardware after rallying from an 0-2 deficit to the Phoenix Suns in the 2022 Finals. Mike Budenholzer has been Milwaukee’s head coach since 2018 after a stint with the Atlanta Hawks. 

As the post LeBron James era gets closer and closer, Giannis Antetokounmpo appears poised to assume a place as the NBA’s (and perhaps the world’s) best player. Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday, Brook Lopez and Bobby Portis are among Milwaukee’s signature stars. The Bucks actually won more games last season than during their championship-winning season.

Dallas Mavericks

Last season was the first for the Mavericks under coach Jason Kidd, following the resignation of Rick Carlisle, who was at the on-court controls for Dallas for over a decade. Dallas won 52 games last season and advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time since 2011 — the year the Mavericks’ last won the NBA championship. 

Mark Cuban’s formula for what he hopes will be the team’s next championship(s) involve its centerpiece in Luka Dončić. Christian Wood, Spencer Dinwiddie, Jalen Brunson and Tim Hardaway Jr. were all part of Dallas’ winning puzzle in 2021-22. JaVale McGee is also returning to Dallas.

Philadelphia 76ers

In a city where sports headlines are plentiful, there never appears to be a dull moment around the Philadelphia 76ers. Philadelphia qualified for the playoffs the last five seasons but has yet to reach a Conference Finals during that timespan. 

Doc Rivers hopes to change that — and then some — as he enters his third season at the helm in Philadelphia. In addition to its star big in Joel Embiid, the 76ers roster includes James Harden, Tyrese Maxey and now Montrezl Harrell. The team also made news with its plans to build a new arena in Center City.

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