This NBA season was an interesting one to say the least. It seemed like any team was the favorite to lift the Larry O’Brien trophy. Even though many of the teams were fairly stacked, there were still a number of teams that had an injury or two that cost them a true run to the finals. Today, we’re going to examine 5 NBA teams that are ready to make that jump to a championship team.
1: Brooklyn Nets
The Brooklyn Nets have been a quietly successful team the past few years. Last season, the Nets got to the playoffs for the first time since the 2014-2015 season. Many young players have made a name for themselves. Players like Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris Levert and Jarrett Allen emerged as a successful young core who attracted the eye of top free agents. Brooklyn had a very successful summer last year signing Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to 4-year max contracts. They even got Deandre Jordan to sign a 4 year contract as well. Brooklyn seemed to have a legitimate big 3 along with the developing young core. The Nets were going to push as far as they could go during this time frame.
Unfortunately, the promise and hope did not translate to production. Kevin Durant during game 5 of the finals tore his achilles and was going to be out for the 2019-2020 season. However, the Nets knew that when they signed him. Irving also suffered his share of injuries this season. He had a right shoulder injury which caused him to miss 26 games. After that, he still had problems with his shoulder and got season ending surgery. Both of the star players are out for the season and with teams like the Bucks, 76ers and Raptors emerging as finals contenders in the Eastern Conference, it will be tough to compete. Durant and Irving have tons of playoff experience and finals experience. Brooklyn has two of the top playoff performers on their roster. That, combined with the emergence of the young guys will spark the ambition to make a run at the Larry O’Brien trophy. If the Nets simply wait it out, they will have the best chance to win the championship due to the playoff experience on the team and every player will be healthy.
2: Los Angeles Clippers
On the other side of Staples Center, the LA Clippers have a had their first serious look at a NBA championship run. After many years of having the talent to get somewhere but coming up short, the Clippers have turned the corner. They pulled off the best free agencies in franchise history. First, the Clippers got the reigning Finals MVP in Kawhi Leonard to a 4 year, max contract. From here, it only gets better. In a trade with the Oklahoma City Thunder, LA got Paul George in exchange for promising rookie Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and a whopping 5 first-round picks.
They also kept their core together, resigning Pat Beverley to a 3 year contract and keeping Lou Williams as well as Montrezl Harrell. The superstar acquistions fit perfectly into what the Clippers are. The team is not the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles, and even in their introduction video for the 2019-20 season clearly emphasizes that. No one on the Clippers cares too much about the spotlight, as seen with players like Leonard, Beverley, Williams and Harrell. They only care about winning. Most importantly, the Clippers have no ego problems and every player knows what their role is. That is especially important for a team with two superstars who need the ball to thrive. Kawhi has already shown he can lead a team to the Finals, most recently with the Raptors in 2018-19 season. Kawhi, paired with PG is the perfect robin to batman. The Los Angeles Clippers have a clear shot to win a championship because of every teammate understanding their role, as well as a commitment to winning despite the glitz and glamour of Los Angeles.
3: Denver Nuggets
Even though they are a young team, the Denver Nuggets are the third best team to win their first championship this season. Despite the fact that the other two nominees have two superstars, Denver only has one. That superstar is seen by many as one of the best big men in the league, and maybe even the best. Nikola Jokic is terrific, and even that is an understatement. He posts averages this season of 20.2 points, 10.2 rebounds and 6.9 assists. Jokic is the perfect young player that the Nuggets have built around. Not only has Jokic showed how valuable he is, Jamal Murray has showed that as well, being the 2nd star behind Jokic. Murray has only played 4 seasons but he has already posted 18.8 points this season, which is his career high.
The young players are phenomenal, but this is where Denver gets very scary. They have many veterans and players who know their role and have playoff experience. Paul Millsap is a perfect veteran. He teaches the young guys how to play the game but also has that leadership on the court. Not only Millsap, but Jerami Grant has playoff experience with Oklahoma City and was signed last summer. His insight offers even more for the Nuggets to absorb and learn about. The right mixture of young players who already showing their potential mixed with veterans is a lethal combination. The Denver Nuggets will win a championship next season because of the insight from the veterans and helping the young guys take over in a playoff series.