NBA training camps are less than a month from starting, but there are only a handful of teams who have a shot at hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy this June.
Sorry Nuggets, Grizzlies, Knicks and Hawks, but you’ve lost too many pieces this summer to still be considered contenders.
I also don’t think the Clippers, Nets, Warriors and Rockets made enough moves to challenge for a championship.
The Rockets are close, but they will likely need this season to build chemistry and need to add another point guard.
That leaves the Bulls, Heat, Spurs, Thunder and Pacers as the only teams I’d put money on to win it all this season if you’re going to bet on the NBA at an online sportsbook.
Miami has gone to three consecutive Finals and are the first back-to-back champs since the Lakers pulled it off. However, last year they got a big shot to stay alive and could have easily lost in six games to the Spurs. When you throw into the mix that they didn’t really make any big additions to the roster – I’m not sold on Greg Oden being healthy for the playoffs – and they lost a key rotation guy in Mike Miller and there are questions surrounding this Miami team.
In particular, what Dwyane Wade will show up? He’s been working out in Chicago with Tim Grover, but it remains to be seen how his body will hold up to the rigors of an NBA season and a long playoff run.
The Bulls have a legit chance to bump the Heat from the playoffs… as long as Derrick Rose is healthy. However, that’s a big if.
Last season the Pacers gave the Heat all they could handle and were only doomed by their lack of a bench. This summer the team fixed that issue by adding Chris Copeland, Luis Scola, and CJ Watson. Throw into the mix that Danny Granger’s return will bump Lance Stephenson to the bench and that further strengthens the team.
Personally, I feel the Pacers will advance out of what has now become a highly-competative Eastern Conference.
Who will they meet in the Finals? Oklahoma City will be an improved team with Russell Westbrook back and healthy, but I think the Spurs will once again rep the West in the Finals. They have the best coach in the game, a trio of future hall-of-famers and this summer they retained Tiago Splitter while Cory Joseph showed huge growth playing for Canada in international competition.
As for who will win it all, my money’s on the Pacers.