With another trophy added to their collection, the Golden State Warriors are once again the team to beat in the coming season. The team brought the championship back to the Bay Area after losing in the Finals to the Toronto Raptors in 2019, dealing with injuries and missing the playoffs for two consecutive seasons.
With tip-off for the 2022–23 season just days away, the rest of the league is focused on winning a championship while the Dubs, who have been dealing with adversity since reports and a video of Draymond Green punching his teammate Jordan Poole in practice surfaced on the internet, deal with their problems.
Internal issues aside, beating the Golden State Warriors is no easy task. However, some teams look to impose threats to dethrone them.
Boston Celtics: Vengeance Mission
Another team that dealt with its own problems this past summer was the Boston Celtics. The organization decided to suspend head coach Ime Udoka for a year after violating the Celtics’ handbook by engaging in a consensual relationship with a staff member. With or without Udoka, the talent is undeniable on Boston’s roster, and that showed in their run to the NBA Finals before losing to the Warriors in six games.
A sweep against the highly-favored Brooklyn Nets, overcoming the Milwaukee Bucks in seven games, before another grueling seven-game series against Jimmy Butler and the Heat. The Celtics gave us one of the most incredible playoffs runs ever to not end with a championship. At the age of 24, Jayson Tatum’s star continues to shine brighter before our eyes.
The NBA Finals experience will greatly help him and his teammates in the upcoming season, but of course, the team would not be successful without Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Al Horford, Robert Williams III and Derrick White. While they are clearly a talented team, the Celtics stepped up in a big way to prove themselves in a highly competitive Eastern Conference.
Brooklyn Nets: Potentials yet Unleashed
Another team that dealt with drama in the off-season are the Brooklyn Nets. But Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are back and Ben Simmons is playing basketball again.
With the trio all in good shape, the Nets could wreak havoc and win a chip. Unfortunately, as good as they are on the floor, the Nets’ big three are also the biggest divas in the league. It has been one controversy after another surrounding its star players.
However, the Nets are turning over a new leaf. All the stars are present and playing. They welcome back league veterans Seth Curry and Patty Mills. Young players Day’Ron Sharpe, Cam Thomas, and Nic Claxton are hungry. They cast TJ Warren, Royce O’Neal, and Markieff Morriss to add more depth and grit to their lineup.
Anybody who understands and watches the game of basketball knows that if the Nets stay healthy and play to their potential, they could give the Warriors a run for their money.
Milwaukee Bucks: Greek Freak and Company
Not a lot of people will argue that Giannis Antetokounmpo is one of the best basketball players in the world. The kid from Greece, born to Nigerian parents, is a dominant force on a basketball court.
After bringing the championship to Milwaukee in 2021, the Greek Freak and company continued to play well despite failing to defend their title. Last season, they finished third in the East, made quick work of the Chicago Bulls in the opening round, and pushed the Celtics to seven games in a losing effort.
However, the Bucks are still easily one of the favored teams to win this year. The main and obvious factor is that they have the best player in the league, followed by the fact that they have a good and well-balanced team surrounding him.
With Giannis being a two-way player, Wesley Matthews, Serge Ibaka, and Brooke Lopez compliment him on the defensive end. Fans have seen the scoring abilities of Khris Middleton and Jrue Holliday. Middleton is the right-hand man, and Holliday is the trusted ball handler.
Los Angeles Clippers: The Return of the Claw
The biggest threat to the Warriors in the Western Conference, if healthy, is the Los Angeles Clippers. Having been a consistent contender in the west in recent history, injuries have frequently hindered the Clips from success. But this season, the Clippers are spearheaded by their stars returning from injuries to join an already well-rounded lineup.
While rust has been evident for Kawhi Leonard and Paul George during the preseason games, they have also shown flashes of how they play at their best. It is only a matter of time before they return to full form. Newly acquired point guard John Wall looks comfortable with his new team and has already showcased his speed, athleticism, scoring, and passing ability in a Clippers uniform.
Tyron Lue’s team has no worries when it comes to scoring, as their depth chart is stocked with players who can easily get buckets. What makes the Clippers a big threat to the Warriors and the rest of the league is their defensive ability on top of their offense.
Leonard and George are two of the best wing defenders in the NBA, and Wall is one of the better defensive point guards in the league. Additionally, Zubac, Batum, and Morris all provide a big defensive presence in the paint. The Clippers are one of the most well-rounded teams in the league and have the pieces necessary to work on the fly against any opposition.
While their ability is not in doubt, Leonard and George have yet to go a full season without injuries since joining forces in LA. After missing the playoffs last season, the expectations are high for the Clippers coming into next week with a fully healthy squad.