(Image via ahnfiredigital.com)
Volunteer Writer: Aidan Danforth
The NBA season is now underway, and many teams have increased or decreased their potential to win an NBA title. The offseason saw a lot of big trades, player retirements, and rookies who are hoping to make an immediate impact in the NBA.
That begs the question, what NBA teams are the best of the best to start the year, and which ones are most likely to win the title?
It’s tough to make a best NBA teams list and not include the team that’s won four championships since 2015, the Golden State Warriors.
This team is always a threat to the NBA, with superstars like Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green. For opposing teams, if they can stop these three, then Andrew Wiggins, Kevon Looney, and the addition of long-time PG Chris Paul will give opposing coaches’ nightmares.
Last year, the Warriors were one of the worst road teams in the NBA, and their first four games were away. Along with the mental state of the game, Green has been healing a sprained ankle that will keep him sidelined for at least a month.
Paul and the young rising stars on the bench should help the team perform better when Curry is on the bench and help ease the pressure. When Curry was on the bench, the team’s identity as a whole struggled, as seen both in the physical and mental aspects of the game.
The Warriors may not go 72-9 like the 2015-16 season, but this team remains a threat every night and will prove their dominance once again this season.
The Phoenix Suns have been a headline team for the NBA the past few years and a title contender. For all the praise they have received, winning a title has remained a challenge for this group.
Phoenix is coming off another solid regular season that ended in a whimper. The team started the postseason with hope but eventually were without Deandre Ayton and Chris Paul. The Suns made it to the conference semifinals, where they lost to the eventual NBA champion Denver Nuggets in 6 games.
The Suns responded in the offseason after the heartbreaking defeat by making a significant addition to the team. They traded for Wizards shooting guard Bradley Beal, who makes an offense that already contains Devin Booker and Kevin Durant deadly.
They did lose center Deandre Ayton in a three-way trade with the Blazers and Bucks, but they got some draft picks in return and still have some good depth on the roster to afford the loss of a fan favorite.
Beal is also dealing with an injury to start, but the Sun’s depth and their two big scorers will make them a danger to face. This team has a lot of new players and a new head coach that could pan out and make this team a contender for the title for the fourth year in a row. The only question is, do they actually have what it takes to finally get the job done? Time will tell.
The Boston Celtics are always a team in discussion for a finals heading into an NBA season, but the Celtics have always come out short for quite some time.
In response, the Celtics went to work in the offseason by signing forward Jaylen Brown to a long-term deal and acquiring Kristaps Pozingis in a trade with the Wizards. Along with this trade, the Celtics felt they needed more. Their solution was trading for veteran Jrue Holiday after from the Blazers. Holiday has been acknowledged as one of the best defenders in the game, with a career defensive rating of 108.9.
With all these trades, the Celtics saw many fan favorites and depth players depart, with the headline being former 2022 Defensive Player of the Year Marcus Smart. The Celtics do lack depth on their roster, which could be problematic if injuries or issues begin to emerge throughout the season.
The Celtics’ Achilles heel is not in a division rival or superteam. Their problems lie subconsciously, and the C’s must break out of that mental cage if they genuinely want to succeed. If they can get out of their own way, other east teams like the Heat need to watch the outcome of postseason basketball. Questions circle this squad, but if all goes well, they have the chance to make history by becoming the first NBA franchise ever to win 18 NBA championships.
The Bucks are another east team with high hopes to win the finals this year, even after their embarrassing elimination in the first round by the eighth-seeded Heat. Coming up on three years removed from an NBA title, the Bucks are looking to assert themselves as a top team.
Major changes needed to come if the Bucks wanted to be considered elite. The trade that headlined the entire offseason was when the Bucks traded for Blazers superstar point guard Damian Lillard, which creates arguably the best duo in the NBA of Giannis and Dame.
Losing the former-mentioned Jrue Holiday may impact their play on defense; however, they still have a solid team all around that will keep them in contention and have the top contending teams circling this team on their calendar.
Injuries and lack of performance have held the Bucks back in years where they didn’t get to the title game, so with their all-star studded cast and insatiable depth, the Bucks are a team on the hunt for the NBA championship.
People can argue all day about who the four runner-ups are for the best NBA team, but the number one team heading into this season has to be the defending NBA champion, the Denver Nuggets.
After winning last season in dominating fashion, the Nuggets have one man to thank for leading the charge: Nikola Jokic.
The only actual loss the Nuggets had was in their sixth man, Bruce Brown, who the team let walk in free agency. The only issue holding this core back may be the other teams who added talent to their rosters.
But even with other teams getting upgraded, the Nuggets are currently the team to beat in the NBA after their title victory, and it’ll be interesting to see if any players can surpass Jokic as the best player in the NBA.
With eighty-two games and a new in-season tournament format that is sure to make this season interesting, fans have plenty to look forward to in this coming NBA season with lots of competitive and rising teams.
However, what fans are really interested in seeing is, amongst all the trades, draft picks, and free agent additions, what team can surpass all others and be the one to win the NBA title in 2024 and can any of the five teams listed here be the one to do that?