After a stretch of time in which superteams and Big 3’s dominated the NBA, the league has become pretty wide open. While players are still maneuvering their way into playing with specific teams, things are as wide open as they have been in recent memory when it comes to title contenders.
There are numerous teams in both conferences that can make legitimate claims to being title contenders. A few more can rise to those ranks if moves made this offseason pay off and players continue on the path of development that they have been on.
Right now, according to some betting odds that have been set, the Boston Celtics are the favorites to win the NBA Finals this upcoming season. The defending champion Golden State Warriors, LA Clippers, Brooklyn Nets and Milwaukee Bucks round out the top five.
The 15 scouts, coaches and executives that made up the panel of ESPN’s offseason survey would
“I just think Milwaukee would have done it last year if [Khris] Middleton was healthy,” a West scout said. “I think Giannis will be the best player in a series, and my default in most things in the NBA is whoever has the best player tends to win.”
In the Western Conference, the votes weren’t any closer. The Clippers ran away with it, receiving eight votes. The Warriors and Suns each received three, while the final vote went to the Denver Nuggets.
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However, only four of the seven teams received votes for who would win the NBA Finals. This voting was much closer, but the edge was given to the Clippers, who received five votes. The Bucks and Celtics each received four, while the Warriors received two.
“[Klay] Thompson is going to be better, they’re coming off the championship, [James] Wiseman is back, [Moses] Moody, [Jordan] Poole will both be a year older,” an East scout said.
“You’ve got to pick them, because of experience.”
A big reason that the Clippers are receiving so much support is that they should have their All-Star duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George back healthy. With a deep, talented roster and excellent coaching staff, people are expecting great things from them.
“I don’t know if [Leonard will] necessarily be MVP, because he won’t play enough and I don’t think he cares about that,” an East executive said. “But when it comes to playoff MVP, he has an excellent chance of that.”
Could sitting atop these surveys be a curse for the teams? Last season, the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers were overwhelming favorites in the survey to win their respective conferences and take home the Larry O’Brien Trophy. The LA Clippers, Milwaukee Bucks and Boston Celtics are certainly hoping that is not the case and that they can prove their voters right during the upcoming season.
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