The NBA offseason has arguably reached its most desolate point: August. This time of year, we’re all walking around like Will Smith in I Am Legend, but instead of looking for people we’re looking for even the tiniest bit of NBA news. Although there may still be some shoes to drop, with names like Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and Donovan Mitchell still in the rumor mill, it’s possible that none of those players will be moved before the start of the season So, with where things stand at this exact moment, let’s break down who I believe to be the top five title contenders if the playoffs start today.
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Eyebrow raised: Suns, Grizzlies
We actually start with two teams that have built up title hopes in 2022 that may be on shaky ground after this summer. The Suns appear to be largely rebuilding the same crew from the team that won a franchise-record 64 games, despite JaVale McGee. Phoenix’s starting five should be one of the best units in the league, and Deandre Ayton in particular could be in a better position without his contract situation. However, the bank remains a question mark here. I’d like to see this team try to bring in a stronger backup for Chris Paul after Cam Payne’s playoff struggles, especially considering CP’s injury history.
As for the Grizzlies, their regular season could be a slog with Jaren Jackson Jr. who is expected to miss a significant amount of time. See the article : Netflix’s Best Movies and Shows: What’s Trending on June 21, 2022. Meanwhile, the subtractions of Kyle Anderson and De’Anthony Melton rob the team of some of its depth. I’m interested to see how much they’ll have in the tank come postseason time.
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I need to see an improved James Harden before I’m ready to put Philly at the table of adults. The Sixers had a great offseason, though. P. J. Tucker and Melton will bring some much needed modesty to the supporting cast. And Tobias Harris still looms as someone who could be moved to find a more suitable piece next to the two stars.
Denver was plagued by injuries last season, with Jamal Murray missing the entire year and Michael Porter Jr. i miss most of it. The Nuggets would thrive in 2021 when both were healthy, especially after the acquisition of Aaron Gordon. Murray and MPJ should be ready to go in the fall, giving reigning MVP Nikola Jokić his best chance at a Finals appearance. To see also : Mental Health Epidemic Leads Up Disability Claims in UK, IFS Says. The addition of wings like Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Bruce Brown should also pay dividends here. The Nuggets have long needed some extra power on the perimeter defensively, and the two can provide more than what the team has worked with in recent years. I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Murray-KCP-Brown-Gordon-Jokić line close multiple quarters.
You can’t ignore the greatness of Giannis Antetokounmpo, although Milwaukee’s offseason left me wanting more. If Khris Middleton wasn’t injured during the playoffs, the Bucks likely would have made a second straight Finals. It’s not that simple, of course. Brook Lopez will be 35 next April, how long does he have left in the tank? Is there enough depth in the frontcourt if he takes a step back? The same can be asked of Wesley Matthews — who turns 36 in October — and the backcourt. Meanwhile, the big addition of the offseason was Joe Ingles, a 35-year-old coming off a torn ACL. Milwaukee has a very enviable core with Giannis, Middleton and Jrue Holiday. However, I am not completely confident in the surrounding pieces. Another wing would go a long way. Giannis is too good to put them any lower.
It’s really simple with the Celtics: The best team in the East added two very good quality role players (Malcolm Brogdon and Danilo Gallinari) without giving up anyone significant from their playoff rotation. Brogdon, if he stays healthy, can be a steady force offensively and fit right into Boston’s defensive scheme. Gallo gives the Celtics even more frontcourt versatility and his shooting will force tough decisions for opposing defenses. Even Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Robert Williams III and Grant Williams could all probably improve a bit? This is the scariest team in the East by far.
I can’t get the second-lowest defending champs, though the losses of Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr. Both were important contributors during the last title run. While Donte DiVincenzo and JaMychal Green are nice pickups, they don’t do the same things as the players who left. The front office is betting on Jonathan Kuminga, Moses Moody and James Wiseman to all take big steps forward. That could happen, and make the Dubs even more dangerous than last season. Klay Thompson should also look a little more like peak Klay after getting back on the court this year.
On paper – with a strong emphasis on paper – this team is sick. The Clips seem to have the best mix of shooting and defense in the league, two things that tend to be pretty important come playoff time. They also have incredible depth and a hilarious amount of lineup flexibility. They could play a more traditional look with Ivica Zubac at center. Or they can go small and get really funky. Ty Lue has a plethora of options around Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, with John Wall, Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, Nicolas Batum, Marcus Morris Sr., Norman Powell, Terance Mann and Robert Covington literally all bringing something to the table. . Sorting out the minutes might create some headaches, but ultimately it’s a good problem to have. No matter how the Clippers fare, Lue must have an answer. Ultimately, though, it will come down to Kawhi and PG both being ready to go during the postseason. If they are good to go, LA could be a cut above everyone else.