There are 30 teams in the NBA and 16 of them will make the playoffs. Out of the 16 that make the playoffs, about four or five of them are built to actually contend for the championship. This year the NBA has been an interesting league. The Oklahoma City Thunder who have been known as one of the best teams in the NBA and have been either the best or second best team in the West are currently sitting in the 8th spot. The Cleveland Cavaliers hosting 2 all stars and arguably the best player of the game are only sitting on the 4th spot in the weak Eastern Conference. The Atlanta Hawks and the Golden State Warriors are running circles around their opponents as they are atop their respective conferences. The Memphis Grizzlies and the Portland Trailblazers have upgraded their rosters through trades and have shown to be able to play against any team in the league.
What do these teams have in common? These teams barring any significant injuries will be our contenders this year.
Trailblazers: Portland has their stars in Lamarcus Aldrich and Damien Lillard. They surprised the league with their play last year and have continued this year. The only knock on the Blazers were that their starters were playing too many minutes because their bench was extremely weak. Since then they have added Kaman as their back up center and have more recently traded for Arron Afflalo who was previously with the Denver Nuggets. The Blazers have a real shot to win it all if they could get past the powerhouses in the west.
Thunder: Oklahoma City is currently sitting in the 8th spot a couple of games behind the San Antonio Spurs for the 7th spot. The Thunder’s superstars have been bit by the injury bug this season which has lead to some inconsistent play by the team. They just recently acquired 3 players who should help fuel their championship run in Augustin, Kanter and Singler. These players have played very well since being traded to the Thunder. Augustin and Singler also provide very capable options for the team incase their stars suffer from injuries in the post season.
Grizzlies: Memphis have on of the best defensive teams in the NBA. They have struggled offensively the past couple of seasons but the acquisition of Jeff Green from the Boston Celtics should help them out in that aspect of the game. He comes in as a versatile small forward who can score at will. They arguably have the best front court in the NBA with Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph and the newly acquired Jeff Green. That in itself would be tough to beat, add the underrated point guard Mike Conley and they have a good chance of making it out of the west.
Warriors: Golden State hosts arguably the best backcourt in the NBA. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson are deadly from anywhere on the court. They are both young players improving every season. They also have a defensive anchor in Andrew Bogut and a lot of role players who compliment their 3 biggest pieces. They have former all star Andre Igouldala off of the bench who could facilitate and score.
Cavaliers: Cleveland has the best player in the NBA Lebron James. Any team with James should be good enough to contend in the post season but this isn’t just any team with James. This team might even be better than the Miami Heat who with James won 2 championships. Kyrie Irving is a young all star point guard who could score at will. They brought in the Timberwolves’ young former all star Kevin Love in as well who could rebound with the best of them. Add newly acquired guards JR Smith, Shumpert and centers Mozgov, Perkins and this team is as deep as any team in the league.
Hawks: Atlanta has moved on nicely from the Joe Johnson, Josh Smith days. They are powered by their quick playmaking point guard who is extremely unselfish. With 4 all stars this year the league has definitely took notice in Atlanta’s play and with the 2nd best record in the NBA we can’t overlook them either. They play as a team and although most people believe you can’t win the championship without a true superstar the Hawks believe they could. Why shouldn’t they? They have been beating the best teams in the league all season.