Miami Heat– The Heat’s run to the NBA Finals was one of the most intriguing runs that NBA fans have seen in a while. They were able to combine the efforts of veteran talent with players like Andre Iguodala and Jimmy Butler with rising all-star talent in Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro to create a team that proved time and time again in every game that they never quit. They were able to get two wins against a strong Lakers team that none of their other opponents were able to get more than one win against. The great news for Heat fans is that minus Jae Crowder, who is now on the Phoenix Suns, they have the same full roster that made that great run last year. With the help of that playoff experience and the talent and spirit this team has, it’s hard to argue against this team making another impressive playoff run this year.
Portland Trailblazers– Portland has always been that sneaky team that looks like they could be that team to have a great playoff run and fight for an NBA title. Unfortunately, injuries and bad luck plagued the Blazers last year, with many of their key bench players such as Collins and Hood being out for the playoffs. Then, unfortunately, Damian Lillard suffered an injury during the start of their playoff series against, the eventual champions, the Los Angeles Lakers and it was just too much for Cj Mccollum, Carmelo, and the rest of the roster to handle, ending their playoff run in a 4-1 series loss to the Lakers. However, now with their roster back at full strength, the thoughts of the Blazers becoming a major threat in the west are becoming more popular. Cj and Damian have always been one of the top NBA backcourts, with how close they were to becoming a playoff threat last year, motivation is definitely something that will be powering them this season. They also have a phenomenal bench of players from Jusuf Nurkic who is one of the most agile centers in the league and seasoned veteran Carmelo Anthony, who has found his stride with the Blazers, and many other players that are determined to help the Blazers become the title contender their fans have wanted for so long. As to whether that type of playoff run will come into reality, that will have to remain to be seen.
Los Angeles Lakers– The Lakers had one of the most dominant runs in the playoffs last year, only suffering more than one loss in each of their playoff series leading up to the NBA Finals. Lebron James and Anthony Davis were one of the most-high scoring duos NBA fans have seen in the playoffs since the days of Kobe and Shaq, and they had plenty of supporting players including seasoned veteran Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and young rising talent Alex Caruso. Something that will make Lakers fans even more excited for this season is the pieces that the Lakers were able to pick up in free agency, they not only signed a sixth man of the year in Montrezl Harell, but also a veteran and NBA champion center in Marc Gasol. Needless to say, the Lakers did well in increasing the talent on their team over the summer, while also keeping quite a few of the players that helped them succeed their NBA Finals victory. While many new teams have been formed and other teams are back to full strength, it is hard not to think that we could be seeing a trip back to the NBA Finals for this Lakers squad.
Phoenix Suns– It has been ten years since the Phoenix suns made an appearance in the playoffs, in the last few months it appears that this program could be heading towards a return in the playoffs in the near future. They ended last season on a phenomenal 8-game winning streak, landing just short of an NBA playoff experience. Thus, giving their fans some hope they are finally seeing their team become a contender in the west once again. Now after the summer, the Suns are definitely finding the right pieces to become that kind of team, the main standout being that they signed the multi-time All-star point guard in Chris Paul. The combination of his playmaking and leadership with the talent of an incredible small forward in Devon Booker, they are definitely going to be one of the most watchable duos in the NBA. The supporting cast is also interesting to watch because it is full of young talented players that are still trying to make a name for themselves. Two of those youthful players being the strong and agile center in Deandre Ayton and the rising all-star small forward in Mikal Bridges. The Phoenix Suns have had one of the most loyal fan bases in the country, even through this ten-year playoff absence, it looks like a reward for that loyalty could be appearing soon, possibly in the form of a playoff appearance and a great run.
Memphis Grizzlies– We all remember the days of the talented team of Conley, Gasol, and Randolph that was able to create many exciting playoff moments for the fans. With the team that Memphis has recently built, it appears that more moments like that could be in the future. They have a phenomenal point guard in Ja Morant, 2020 Rookie of the Year, who not only has a killer passing ability with averaging 6.3 apg , but also averages an amazing 26.3 ppg. He also has that high jumping ability that we have all seen in the epic dunks that he has had in many games. Then you have another former top five draft pick in Jaren Jackson Jr., a power forward who averages a decent supporting stat-line at 17.4 ppg and an average field goal percentage at 50%. One helpful addition to the team is Kyle Anderson, a player who has experience being with a top program in the San Antonio Spurs so he knows what it takes to work as a team, thus he can offer advice to how his current team can learn to work together. Overall, looking at this roster, it is one of the youngest teams in the NBA ,but that means that they are a team that is full of potential and are only going to get better as a team as the seasons go on and will hopefully bring some new exciting playoff moments back to the city of Memphis.
Atlanta Hawks– One team that many NBA fans are interested to see on the court this year is the Atlanta Hawks. Atlanta had one of the best offseasons an NBA team can have with the signing of Rondo, Bogdanoivc, and Gallinari. The addition of Rondo, Multi-time NBA champion, can be a great mentor for Trae Young and help him improve his play making abilities and other skills while also subbing for him whenever Young needs to rest. The additions of Bogdanovic and Gallinari are also beneficial because they are both decent three-point shooters with percentages of 42 and 67%, they also have the ability to help guard multiple positions on the court seeing as they are both lengthy and quick on their feet. The defense is also helped by the presence of John Collins and Clint Capela, two near seven footers who know how to control the paint and they even do a decent job of helping with the offense as well. John Collins averages a decent stat-line of 18.4 ppg and 7.4 rpg while Capela averages close to a double-double with 8.7 ppg and 10.7 rpg. Overall, after analyzing this team, it is hard to dispute that Atlanta could finally get back to being, a playoff contender like in the days of their all-star lineup of Teague, Carroll, Horford, etc.
Dallas Mavericks– Dirk Nowitzki will always be remembered as one of the best to ever put on a Mavericks jersey, and as he retired, another star was brought into the franchise that many believe to be one of the top players in the NBA, and his name is Luka Dončić. So far this season Luka has been a stellar point guard by averaging a decent stat-line at 23.8 ppg, 5.8 rpg, and 6.3 apg. He’s also usually seen trying his best to encourage his teammates to keep fighting even when he is not in the game, which is what every team should want in a team leader or point guard. They even have a couple of other talented guards in Trey Burke and Jalen Brunson who can switch out with Luka and have him play as shooting guard, giving the Mavs offense the special bonus of having two offensive leaders on the court. They also have two small forwards in Josh Richardson and Tim Hardaway Jr. who have the ability to guard multiple positions and contribute some beneficial three-pointers as well. With all of these pieces on the team, the Mavs are definitely starting to find their identity in becoming a power in the west and maybe becoming an NBA title contender in the near future.