The 2015/16 NBA season begins in just over a week and with so many teams with championship ambitions, this is a breakdown of the top 4 teams looking to bring an end to the reign of the current champs, the Golden State Warriors.
- Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers are major championship contenders and will be out for revenge after their dismissal in game 6 of the NBA finals last season. They pose the largest threat to the reign of the current champs. Kyrie Irving’s battles with injury and the loss of Kevin Love late in the playoffs last season crippled their championship dreams, but fortunately for the Cavs they’ve managed to keep the versatile, floor spacing machine that is Kevin Love as well as the defensive prowess of Iman Shumpert. The Cavs have also acquired Mo Williams who adds experience to his former team and reduces the burden on Kyrie Irving. Having the best all-round player in the game right now doesn’t hurt either.
- San Antonio Spurs
There’s no question that the signings of LaMarcus Aldridge and David West have been two of the better moves by any team in the NBA during the off season. How fast these two can transition from their former roles into adopting Coach Popovich’s team first concept of play will be crucial to the success of the Spurs in the upcoming season. Injuries have been an issue to San Antonio in the past, with Tony Parker picking up a nasty hamstring injury last season so it remains to be seen whether they can keep their aging veterans healthy through to July. Whatever the case, 2016 will shape up to be an interesting year for Spurs’ fans.
- LA Clippers
The Clippers boasted the second best record in the Pacific division last season, right on the heels of the current champs. They were able to retain the services of DeAndre Jordan through heavy courtship by the Dallas Mavericks and have also added Lance Stevenson, Paul Pierce, Cole Aldrich and none other than Josh Smith, giving Chris Paul another target to throw at for spectacular finishes. While there’s no doubt that the Clippers will be one of the most exciting teams to watch this season, they’ve also solidified their position as championship contenders by retaining 4 of their 5 starters from last season. The addition of future hall of famer Paul Pierce and Josh Smith can only strengthen the core of this dynamic team.
- Oklahoma City Thunder
Do not sleep on the Oklahoma City Thunder! Kevin Durant is healthy after missing most of last season due to a foot injury and will be hungrier than ever to go all the way with this group of guys with his free agency looming. ‘KD’ coupled with the Dynamic skill set of Russell Westbrook and the support of a solid cast ensures that it is never a good idea betting against OKC, and puts this team in contention for the crown. The strength of this team lies in the youth and depth, and with the retention of most of its players from last season as well as the rejuvenated Durant, expect to see the Oklahoma City Thunder make an epic bid for a championship this season.
I predict a Cleveland, Spurs Finals. Cleveland was my team to win it all last season before the injury to Kevin Love and now they’re back and will be ready to pick up where they left off. The Spurs have had the best off season in the NBA and this will surely pay off with a finals appearance assuming the can stay injury free.