1. Golden-State Warriors
Coming off of an embarrassing loss to the Cavaliers in the Finals- a series in which they were up 3 to 1- the Warriors are primed to make another championship run this season. Adding All-Star Kevin Durant to a team that went 73-9 last season potentially creates the most dangerous super-team of all time. Critics that argue that there is “only one ball”, and there will not be enough scoring to go around for so many dominating players. However, the fact remains that Kevin Durant and Stephen Curry could have an off night, with Klay Thompson and Draymond Green carrying the team to victory (and vice versa).
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
After winning a championship and finally bringing one to the land, Lebron James leads his Cavs right back into the fray of the NBA with newfound confidence. He has reportedly spent the summer vigorously working out and training, as he is not yet ready to begin his decline. Kyrie Irving is right in his prime as one of the top point guards in basketball. With KD joining Golden State, and the competition growing even more tight, the Cavaliers should be ready to defend their title.
3. San Antonio Spurs
The “big fundamental” Tim Duncan has retired, and their core grows ever older-but don’t tell the Spurs that they are regressing. Gregg Popovich returns as one of the greatest coaches ever. Kawhi Leonard, the reigning Defensive Player of the Year, is in his prime. San Antonio has missed the playoffs just once over the last twenty-five years. Don’t expect that consistency to end any time soon.
4. Toronto Raptors
The Raptors are coming off of a disappointing loss to the Cavs in the Eastern Conference Finals, but the talent they possess is undeniable. Expect Kyle Lowry and Demar Derozan to be hungry for a championship ring after striking Olympic gold in Rio this summer.
5. LA Clippers
The Clippers have consistently failed to take advantage of their talented nucleus. However, their potential is too great to overlook, and any team with Blake Griffin, Chris Paul, and DeAndre Jordan are a threat. The return of Paul Pierce should give the team a great veteran presence in a season in which they are hopeful for a championship run.