5 legitimate threats to take down the Warriors in 2018

There’s no question. The Golden State Warriors are the heavy favourites to repeat as NBA Champs in 2018. With Kevin Durant still under contract along with the regular trio of Draymond Green, Klay Thompson and Stephen Curry, the Warriors are posed to be unstoppable once again.

However, the NBA offseason has been frantic to say the least. With a couple more moves still in the works, it’s hard to determine, but here’s five NBA teams that have a legitimate shot at dethroning the Golden State Warriors in 2018.

Honourable mentions: Washington Wizards, Minnesota Timberwolves, Toronto Raptors

Cleveland Cavaliers

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This could change any day, but as long as Kyrie Irving is still a member of the Cavs, the Warriors’ biggest rival are still threats to take down the reigning champs. Any team that has LeBron James on their roster has a legitimate shot at a championship, and the Cavaliers have an established supporting cast to help LeBron. While Kevin Love hasn’t produced the way he did with the Minnesota Timberwolves, he’s still a good matchup for the likes of Draymond Green and Zaza Pachulia, or Kevin Durant if he moves to power forward. Tristan Thompson is a great athletic rebounder, and there’s some room for improvement at the shooting guard position with J.R. Smith and Iman Shumpert. Kyle Korver and newly acquired Derrick Rose will provide scoring support off the bench, but the Cavs really need Kyrie, the man who put the Dagger in the Warriors in 2016, to return to Cleveland if they want to win their second title in four years.

San Antonio Spurs

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With some rumours that the Spurs are in the running for Kyrie Irving, San Antonio will be the Warriors biggest threat in the stacked Western Conference, Kyrie or no Kyrie. With the always underrated Kawhi Leonard leading the way with the veteran presence of LaMarcus Aldridge, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobli, the Spurs have championship experience with a mix of young superstardom. The Acquisition of Rudy Gay should’ve made more waves in the league, but many question if he’ll fit in Gregg Popovich’s system. Many also question the caliber of Tony Parker’s play at the age of 35, especially with his injury problems as of late. We could possibly see Patty Mills play more of a starting role in 2018, with Dejounte Murray being groomed to take over the role in the future. It’s a definite weak spot on this team, but under Popovich’s reign, the Spurs will make it work. With Pau Gasol back to help in the front court, and Popovich calling the shots, you can never count out the Spurs to take down the Warriors in a seven game series.

Houston Rockets

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After getting bounced in the 2nd round by the Spurs in 6 games, the Houston Rockets had one of the biggest offseasons in the league. Acquiring Chris Paul from the Los Angeles Clippers was a huge acquisition for the Rockets, who now have a second scoring option on their starting five aside from James Harden. With Eric Gordon, the reigning sixth man of the year, Trevor Ariza, the developing Chinanu Onaku, Nene and P.J. Tucker rounding out their roster, the Rockets should be a threat to make the conference finals this year. With rumours of Carmelo Anthony wanting to join the Rockets, there could be bigger things on the way for the Rockets, but as of right now, it would take some luck, but the Rockets pose the second highest threat in the west aside from the Spurs.

Boston Celtics

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Although they finished the regular season as the 1st place team in the Eastern Conference, there was a lot of critics that the Boston Celtics could make it out of the East against the Cleveland Cavaliers. After being shown the door in five games, it seems most of those critics were right. With Isaiah Thomas’ defence being a liability, and no huge scoring threats alongside him other than Al Horford, the Celtics just didn’t have enough firepower to take down the Cavaliers. In the offseason, the Celtics signed star forward Gordon Hayward from the Utah Jazz. Now we’re talking. With Thomas, Horford, Hayward, and growing stars in Jaylen Brown and Jason Tatum, and a supporting cast of Jae Crowder, Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart, the Celtics are one of the few teams who might actually beat the Warriors in terms of depth in 2018. The majority of the Celtics’ roster isn’t very playoff experienced, so they’ll have their sights set on dethroning the Cavaliers in the East, but if they can do that, the rest of the road is pretty easy on their road to the NBA Finals. They are also one of just two teams who can stand a chance against the stacked Warriors.

Oklahoma City Thunder

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One of the more pipe dream teams to take down the Warriors, the Oklahoma City Thunder made the biggest splash of the offseason, acquiring Indiana Pacers’ franchise cornerstone Paul George. Add to that, the Thunder boast the league’s reigning MVP in Russell Westbrook, and with just those two names, they can contend against the Warriors. The only hole for the Thunder is a lack of depth and scoring out of the front court. Steven Adams and Enes Kanter are pretty one-dimensional bigs, and while the addition of Patrick Patterson will shake things up a bit, they still need a little help if they’re going up against Draymond Green and the Warriors. If Russell Westbrook is averaging a triple-double, and Paul George does his thing, the Thunder stand a chance against the defending champions.

But let’s be honest, it’s nearly impossible to pick another team winning the championship next year. Let’s hope someone pulls it off.

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Five potential landing spots for Carmelo Anthony

What was once speculation has now turned into truth; Carmelo Anthony wants out of the New York Knicks organization. And it’s pretty hard to blame him. With a furious NBA off-season to this point, the incoming Carmelo trade could once again shake up the league. After going through one of the darkest periods in Knicks history, it’s time for Anthony to chase a championship. There’s already multiple reports that Anthony wants to go to the Houston Rockets, but we’re going to look at five potential destinations for the 33-year-old out of Syracuse.

Houston Rockets

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Lets begin with the most obvious choice, being that Anthony has reportedly asked to be dealt to the Houston Rockets and join James Harden and Chris Paul in attempting to take down the Golden State Warriors. While Anthony’s $26.2 million salary next season is hefty, the Rockets are able to take on the contract if they’re willing to dip into the luxury tax. With no true starting small forward on the roster to begin with, Anthony is a great fit for the Rockets. On the receiving end, the Knicks will be inquiring about Eric Gordon, but if the Rockets can play their cards right, they can probably snag Carmelo for next year’s first round pick and a prospect, seeing as Carmelo’s trade rumors are beginning to become public, and the Knicks are losing value fast in terms of what they can get for their star forward. For Anthony, this is a chance he’s been waiting for, a chance to compete for a ring. Obviously, the Golden State Warriors are the clear-cut favourites to repeat as NBA Champions next season, but with Anthony on the team, the Rockets are a legitimate contender to dethrone the Warriors.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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Now we get into the fringe landing destinations; teams that have had some rumors swirling, but not nearly as much as the Rockets have. We begin with the Cleveland Cavaliers, who have took on those Golden State Warriors in the NBA Finals for the past three seasons. While there isn’t necessarily a ‘need’ for Anthony’s skill set, there have been some talks that the Cavs organization is unhappy with the production of power forward Kevin Love. He had some good games in the finals last year, but overall he hasn’t made the impact the Cavaliers hoped when they dealt Andrew Wiggins to the Timberwolves for him. If the Cavaliers are looking for some more offence out of their four, Carmelo could slide into the position and help the Cavs march back to the Finals and take another crack at the defending champs. This trade ultimately comes down to if Cleveland is willing to part ways with Love or not. For the Knicks, this is probably the best return they’re going to get from anyone, so they should pounce on it if the Cavaliers do open up talks.

Portland Trail Blazers

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Another team that’s had some interest around the league, but none directly from Anthony or the Knicks has been the Portland Trail Blazers. The Blazers, who are desperate for some more star power behind Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, haven’t had a big, scoring threat since LaMarcus Aldridge left Portland in free agency to join the San Antonio Spurs in 2015. The Blazers had hoped to fill the void at SF through free agency last summer by signing Evan Turner, but he’s been arguably one of the worst contracts in the NBA so far, and Allen Crabbe simply doesn’t have the size or defensive awareness to be a starting small forward. The New York Knicks are never strapped for cash, so they could easily take on the contracts of Allen Crabbe and/or Evan Turner, plus they would get a first round pick out of the deal as well. In Portland, Jake Layman looks promising in terms of being a starting three in the NBA one day, and getting some help from Carmelo in his early years could benefit the Blazers down the road. In terms of competitiveness, the Blazers might not be as high on the radar as the Rockets or the Cavaliers, but if those teams aren’t a fit for him, the Blazers are still a much better place to be than in New York right now. Plus, I wouldn’t mind seeing my team pick up a ten time all-star.

Miami Heat

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Now we’re getting to the more low-end side of things, a shot in the dark if you will. Teams that would make sense for Anthony, but haven’t really been brought up as a potential destination for Carmelo. First, the Miami Heat. The Heat were in serious discussion to land Gordon Hayward before he chose to go to the Boston Celtics, and with Carmelo on the team, the Heat would be in the mix of the eastern conference’s elite. With Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside and Dion Waiters joining him in the starting line-up, the Heat would have an underrated, yet powerful team. Again, the Heat aren’t perennial championship contenders, but with Carmelo’s services, this definitely puts them into a top-4 situation in a pretty weak eastern conference, and again, anything is better than New York at this point for Anthony. The location factor always helps the Heat as well, and if the Heat can’t crack the east’s best, at least Carmelo has some nice beaches and casinos to spend his spare time at. Obviously, basketball comes first for Anthony, and he wants to win, but you can’t tell me players are upset when they’re told they have been dealt to Miami. The Heat don’t have a whole lot to try and bargain with, other than future first round picks, but again, with Carmelo’s age and contract, the deal can still be done.

Utah Jazz

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Lastly, another team affected by the Gordon Hayward decision; the team he left. Last season, the Utah Jazz finished tied for fourth in the western conference with 51 wins, which is very impressive for that group. Now, the team takes a definite step backward with the departure of their star small forward. The best solution? Pick up another star small forward. With plenty of young, rising talent, Anthony would provide veteran leadership, something that was missing last season. A lot of things would have to fall into place for the Jazz to get a chance at landing Carmelo, but positionally, the move makes perfect sense. In terms of what the Knicks would receive, the Jazz’s 2018 1st round pick would almost certainly be in play, along with a combination of Alec Burks, Joe Johnson and Ricky Rubio. Again, this is a long shot, but something that’s not entirely out of the question.

With Carmelo Anthony’s age, contract status and uncertainty, teams can get the star small forward for a pretty good price. And for the Knicks, Anthony’s trade value is dropping by the day, and it’s time to get Carmelo out of New York while you can still get something for him.

Where do you think Carmelo is headed? Let us know in the comments below!