The NBA season is almost here, and Golden State Warriors will face a tough task to defend a title they won last year, the first in the franchise history. I will present you every division separately and season expectations.
Toronto Raptors are the main favorites to claim the division title again. The Raptors secured a first spot last time with 49 wins and were the only team in the division with a record over .500. Boston Celtics are among the youngest teams in the league, and their roster looks pretty strong. They’re looking like a playoff team. Brooklyn Nets had the title aspirations in recent years, but they failed even to reach the conference finals. Deron Williams is gone now, and the team will try to rebuild around the center, Brook Lopez. New York Knicks’ president Phil Jackson took over the basketball operations duties two years ago, and he is ready to build the new Knicks around Carmelo Anthony, of course. Philadelphia 76’ers are the only team in this division without a realistic chance to reach the playoffs.
The last year’s NBA finalists, Cleveland Cavaliers, are the biggest favorites to win the Eastern Conference title again. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving could easily lead the team to the top of the division while the battle for the second place between Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks can be exciting. The Bulls kept their key players, and The Bucks added some depth to the roster. Andre Drummond will be a key figure in Detroit, Paul George and Indiana will be in the mix as well. They lost Hibbert and West this summer, though.
Atlanta Hawks and Washington Wizards will battle for a top spot in the division with Miami Heat lurking. Chris Bosh is healthy again; Dwayne Wade, Goran Dragic, and Luol Deng have the required quality to be a top six team in The East. However, their bench is looking slim. The Wizards impressed last year, reached the second round of the playoffs. John Wall and Bradley Beal could win the division this time around. The Cavs destroyed the Hawks in the Eastern finals, but their defense and slow tempo basketball are hard to beat, and they are title contenders. Charlotte Hornets are pretty serious, and they showed a very good form during the preseason. I expect them to be 7th or the 8th team in the conference. Orlando Magic will be happy if they manage to win 30 games this year.
The best division in NBA, last year all five teams reached the playoffs. Houston Rockets and San Antonio Spurs will be the chief rivals for the Southwest title. James Harden has the MVP quality, and his team is among the candidates for a championship ring. The Spurs did an excellent job in bringing LaMarcus Aldridge and with “old-timers” Duncan, Parker, and Ginobili, will be a major threat for the Warriors, Rockets, and Clippers in the West. Dallas Mavericks added Deron Williams and Wesley Matthews, but missed out on DeAndre Jordan and lost Tyson Chandler, so it will be a long way for them in the playoff hunt. New Orleans Pelicans were a pleasant surprise last year when they qualified for the postseason at Oklahoma’s expense. Anthony Davis is an MVP caliber and with numerous versatile players around him, I can see the Pelicans in top eight. Memphis Grizzlies are the best defensive team in NBA, and their starting five is the same for years. They will be in playoffs for sure.
With Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook healthy again, it won’t be hard for OKC Thunder to win the division with ease. Portland Trail Blazers are not good like last season, they lost Aldridge, Matthews and Lopez, so will rebuild the team around Damian Lillard. They’ll probably finish as the last team in the division. Utah Jazz is on the rise and could be a legit playoff contender. Burke, Favors, and Hayward can bring the glory days back to the Salt Lake City. Denver Nuggets traded Ty Lawson away, and they’ll try to reshape the team in coming years. The Nuggets do have a potential for the playoffs, but I don’t see them in. Minnesota Timberwolves took the No. 1 overall pick Karl-Anthony Towns and with Kevin Martin, Ricky Rubio, and Nikola Pekovic (if healthy), could rival the Jazz for the number two spot in the division.
The reigning NBA champions, Golden State Warriors, are the biggest favorites to win the league again. They were simply fantastic last season, and nobody could say they didn’t deserve to win it. This year, though, Los Angeles Clippers will present a major obstacle in Pacific and Doc Rivers’ team looks adamant. They’ve added several veterans: Paul Pierce, Josh Smith, and Wesley Johnson. I won’t be surprised if they reach the NBA finals. Phoenix Suns are arguably better than last year, especially with Tyson Chandler as starting center. Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight can outscore any opponent, and the Suns are stalking from the shadows. Sacramento Kings can be a playoff team again. Rajon Rondo will orchestrate the offense, and with help in Rudy Gay and DeMarcus Cousins, the Kings can make an upset. Los Angeles Lakers are still out of a playoff picture, but they do get the No. 2 pick D’Angelo Russell. Russell will be a starting point guard, and Kobe Bryant is there to help him.
In the opinion of the general managers, Cleveland has the best chance to win the championship this season. A team from Ohio got 53.6% of their votes. Behind them, they are San Antonio Spurs with 25% of votes while the current champion Golden State Warriors is in third place with 17.9% of votes. Oklahoma is on the fourth place with just 3.6% of the votes.