It’s the best time of the year. The World Series is happening, football is at mid-season already, hockey has kicked off and the NBA is officially underway. There were a lot of big off-season acquisitions for many NBA teams as well as a few unanswered questions (will Kyrie play again?) that shuffled the league power structure. Will Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks repeat as champions, or will a new contender like the red hot Chicago Bulls or fan-favorite New York Knicks take home the crown? Our team of writers have their takes:
New York Knicks
I’m going to go bold here and say that the New York Knicks will pull out their first championship in nearly 50 years. The team has a great makeup of unselfish players and enough stars to make them contenders. Last year, the Knicks finished fourth in the conference, but a shoddy series by star Julius Randle led to a first round exit. This year, you can expect Randle and the Knicks to be coming for blood with their deep and well-rounded roster. A character of great teams involves a steady hand at the point, which characterizes UConn legend Kemba Walker. Although not the superstar he used to be while with the Hornets, if he can stay healthy, his skills will fit well on a team-oriented squad. Overall, this team has a nice mix of veteran and rookie talent, perfect for a nice title run to take home the hardware.
Golden State Warriors
It feels weird to say this, but for some reason, I’m really happy that the Warriors are good again. After a couple of lost seasons, Golden State has returned to the formidable powerhouse that dominated the NBA from 2014-2019. Stephen Curry recorded yet another MVP-caliber season last year, and is doing his part by averaging 29 points per game to help the Warriors jump out to a 4-0 start to this season. They’ve already beaten the Clippers and the Lakers, two teams that are supposed to be contending for an NBA title at the season’s end. Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole and Damion Lee are all averaging at least 14 points per game, and Draymond Green remains a defensive anchor, making Golden State dangerous on multiple fronts. All this does not account for the anticipated return of all-star guard Klay Thompson, who has not played an NBA game since the 2019 NBA Finals. I like to watch basketball teams that are fun, and the Warriors are very fun. They’re very good, too.
The Suns were so close to winning the championship last year, and despite having most of their core, the Suns are being slept on. How does one sleep on a team that includes Devin Booker and one of the 75 greatest players in NBA history in Chris Paul? Their run to the Finals last year was not a miracle run; they fought tooth and nail to make it to the finals, and if UCLA can propel to the No. 2 rankings, then the Suns should not be ignored. DeAndre Ayton may not have gotten a new contract yet, but he has developed into the franchise center for a team that bases their gameplay around offense. Pickups like JaVale McGee and Landry Shamet provide extra depth for The Valley and these pieces might help the Suns get over the hump. With all of this talent at their disposal, Monty Williams and the Suns have what is needed to return to the Finals and take home the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
I have to piggyback right off my most recent article and pick the Miami Heat to win a ring. They have the talent to go toe-to-toe with anyone in the league right now, and they have the mental attitude that they want it. This team has everything on the court whether it’s elite defense headlined by Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo and P.J. Tucker or three-point sharpshooting led by guards Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson. The Heat destroyed the former champion Milwaukee Bucks without Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez, a feat that would have most likely still been accomplished with them both on the court. They have depth and a lot of it, which will allow them to control games unlike previous seasons where the team was known to fall apart in the third quarter. Their team-oriented style of play, led by head coach Erik Spolestra, will carry them far and in this season, another banner will be hoisted in FTX Arena.