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
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
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.
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.
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
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.