As the NBA season approaches, it’s time to look at some of the biggest questions heading into the new year. Here are five questions facing the league as the new season gets going.
Who is the favorite in the Eastern Conference?
Right now, the favorite has to be the Milwaukee Bucks. Even with a depleted roster, the Bucks took the eventual Eastern Conference champion, Boston Celtics, to seven games in the postseason. After winning the title in 2021, the Bucks now know how to win, and the weight came off their shoulders. This is a powerful team that relies on their physicality and defense to win games. They have arguably the best player in the league in Giannis Antetokounmpo, who wants to add to his already incredible resume. Milwaukee will be a force again this season and could easily find themselves winning it the championship when all is said and done.
Who is the favorite in the Western Conference?
It’s the Golden State Warriors. Let’s not beat around the bush here. They are the defending champions and still are lethal as a team. As long as Steph Curry is healthy, this team will be difficult to beat. Golden State may have lost some of their depth from last season, but they should still have enough to still be extremely effective. It’s all about the postseason for this team as they won the title last year as the number three seed in the Western Conference. I do think they will try to position themselves a little better because home court means so much to them but until someone knocks them off, they are the favorite here.
What team makes the biggest jump?
The New Orleans Pelicans. Going from the play-in to a top six seed, would be a huge jump for this franchise. They are primed to take the next step as a truly dominant team with the addition of Zion Williamson back into the lineup. They pushed the loaded Suns in the playoffs last season and Brandon Ingram looked like a star in the making. This team is deep and ready to take that next step. If not this season, then when? This is the year for the Pelicans to stake their claim in the NBA. They got the playoff experience and now they just need to execute. This is a young, feisty team that will snatch your heart if you aren’t careful. Watch out for New Orleans this season if they stay healthy.
What team makes the biggest fall?
I’m going to say it’s the Phoenix Suns. When I say that they will fall, I don’t mean they will miss the playoffs. But they won’t be the number one seed in the Western Conference this season. A mixture of the way they were defeated in the playoffs last season and all the drama surrounding their suspended soon-to-be former owner, is a recipe for disaster. The Suns will still have a say in the conference, but I have them falling down to the fifth seed. They rely a little too heavily on an aging Chris Paul and two of their main role players, don’t even want to be with the team. Both Deandre Ayton and Jae Crowder are beefing with the team. They are professionals so they will be fine but that seeps into a locker room. This team has shown a lapse in mental toughness over the last few seasons and will really need things to fall their way if they are too finally win a title this season. I don’t particularly see it, but weirder things have happened in the NBA.
Who wins the NBA title?
The NBA is absolutely loaded. There are a lot of teams that can win the title this season and that makes for some incredible basketball to be played. Many will pick the Bucks, Warriors, or even the Clippers due to their roster strength. However, I’m going a different route.
The Philadelphia 76ers. Now I know what you may be thinking. This is a bit of a wild card pick because James Harden at times can look like he goes missing in the postseason. However, a full year matched up with Joel Embiid can do wonders for this roster. Their title window is right now and honestly, I’m not sure how much longer it will stay open. I really think that the X-factor for them is going to be Tyrese Maxey. He showed a lot in the postseason and if he can take the jump that many believe, this 76ers team will be even scarier.
They added in P.J. Tucker for shooting, defense, and toughness. The team last season lacked some toughness and Tucker will surely bring it to them. I like how they match up against the Nets, Bucks, and even the Celtics. This team has a different feel to them entering the season.
While it’s hard to imagine because he has been so good, I think we see a different level to Embiid this season. He understands that winning a title is more important than going for the MVP. And after missing out on it last season, he will be ready to go. This team seems focused and ready to go. Health is obviously everything to this team (much like every roster), but I like Philadelphia to hoist up the Larry O’Brien Trophy at the end of the season finally.