A few contenders and challengers have already emerged in the first half of the 2020-21 NBA season. Without a doubt, the stars of the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets are currently considered the favorites to win their division and will be the last two teams to compete for the Larry O’Brien Trophy in July.
While neither team is currently at the top of their conference rankings, both the Lakers and Nets have already lived up to expectations and proven to be the best in the world so far.
The reigning NBA champion is still being played at the MVP level by his girlfriend, 36-year-old megastar LeBron James. Purple and gold also recycled well in the offseason, as Montrezl Harrell and Dennis Schroeder integrated well.
Although they will be without superstar Anthony Davis for the next two to three weeks, the Lakers’ front line has enough talent to hold down the fort during his absence. The team is also looking for a suitable replacement at the deadline.
And then there are the Nets, who were considered serious title contenders even before the season began.
The healthy combination of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving proved to be more than expected, as the 7-11 duo wreaked havoc early on. But it was the arrival of third superstar James Harden, via this four-team blockbuster, that really cemented Brooklyn as a team to be reckoned with.
The three top scorers were quick to get used to each other. Brooklyn also has its best record this season with a 9-1 mark against teams ranked above .500.
Although the Lakers and Nets are still favorites to win seven games in a row over 28 other NBA teams, nothing is set in stone. The post season is of a different caliber and both teams still have their weaknesses.
Let’s take a look at the four teams that have a legitimate chance to win the 2021 NBA title from the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets.
There is no basketball team that is better than the Jazz right now. After their best streak of 11 consecutive championship wins, they won their last eight games to start a new run.
To make this series even more impressive, Utah completely destroyed the competition with 17 double-digit wins in the 19-1 series.
Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert have taken their play to the next level after both were criticized by some analysts this season. Jordan Clarkson has become a sensation on the bench and already looks set to claim the title of Sixth Man of the Year.
In a game in constant evolution where 3-point shooting is currently a must, the Jazz are currently the best team in the league in terms of 3-point shooting per game (16.8) at an astounding 39.5%.
Utah bears an uncanny resemblance to the Golden State Warriors dynasty of 2010, which won three NBA titles in five years.
It remains to be seen if they will be able to maintain the same dominant playing time, but at least they have all the necessary tools to give the Lakers and Nets an edge.
It’s too early to tell if the Sixers really have what it takes to win the title this season. After all, we’ve seen them crash and burn in recent years when the light shone brightest, while their head coach Doc Rivers also has a reputation as an epic playoff smelter.
Nevertheless, we cannot deny the great improvement Philadelphia has shown so far. Joel Embiid was one of the first MVP candidates this season. While he has always been one of the best players at his position, there is no doubt that he has truly become an NBA top 5 talent this season.
His second-in-command, Ben Simmons, received a lot of criticism early in the season, but he recently reminded everyone that he’s still as good as ever with a 42-point lead.
The top of the Eastern Conference has improved significantly this season, but it is the Sixers who currently lead the standings. Like the Jazz, there are more questions about the Sixers’ chances, but there is no doubt that they no longer resemble the underperforming team of the past.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers were certainly the biggest disappointment of last season after they failed in what could have been an epic WCF duel between Los Angeles and the future championship winning Lakers.
So much so that a great team is indeed gone for the 2020-21 season – and that’s a good thing for Tyronn Lue’s team. Now that the spotlight is no longer following the Clips’ every move, they have simply strived to be a much better basketball team than they were a year ago.
Paul George came through his terrible playoff performance last year well and came back strong. Kawhi Leonard, on the other hand, is still the two-way superstar he always was.
While two longtime All-Stars have been out due to injury, the Clippers have managed to win four games without their two best players. They lost to the Jazz on Wednesday due to time constraints, but it shows that their team has become more than just two superstars.
As the experts continue to downplay the Clips’ level of play this season, we could be the last team in the running.
The Bucks are in the same boat as the Clippers, as they too have emerged from a heated rivalry after two disappointing results in qualifying games. Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to be great, but he has yet to prove he can lead his team to the promised land.
Not many fans would bet on the Bucks winning the title right now, considering they’ve lost four games in a row. But Milwaukee missed Jrue’s vacation because of COVID-19 protocols, and there’s plenty of time to get back in action. They always have a well-rounded squad at every position and have enough shots and athletic ability to be a great unit on both ends of the field.
Giannis himself showed that the team had already learned from its past mistakes.
Will the Bucks do their charm for the third time? Only time will tell if they have it in them to take out title favorites like the Lakers or the Nets.
frequently asked questions
Who should win the NBA Finals in 2021?
As the Western Conference’s playoff team, the Lakers have a 33 percent chance of reaching the NBA Finals in 2021 and a 21 percent chance of winning back-to-back, according to FiveThirtyEight’s predictions. They are rightly considered the favourites for the championship.
Who will win the 2020 NBA?
The Milwaukee Bucks are currently the favorite team to win the NBA title in 2020. Their rating is +240, which is only slightly higher than the Los Angeles Lakers (+260). Bettors are anticipating the NBA Finals for the Bucks and Lakers.
Which teams have won the last 5 NBA championships?
NBA Championship : Year after year, the champions
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