Top 10 NBA Finals Contenders
Top 10 NBA Finals Contenders
We're always trying to predict sports. Using a formula of past production, current form and possibilities for the future we try to create metrics by which we can attempt to bring a measure of certainty to the uncertain. We are obsessed with the pointless task of accurately predicting the winners, losers and everything in-between. And this slideshow is no different. Here are my top 10 teams who have a shot at making the NBA Finals.
The defending champion Miami Heat had to be first on the list. They have the best player in basketball, a deep, complimentary roster and championship experience from last year. Couple that with a pretty weak Eastern Conference and it seems the stars have aligned again for LeBron James and company.
Oklahoma City Thunder
And of course the second team on this list would be the Finals runner-up from last year. The Oklahoma City Thunder may have lost James Harden but they look as impressive as ever through this early portion of the season. Kevin Martin has performed well and the Thunder look strong. Kevin Durant may well be making a second trip to the Finals before his 25th birthday at this rate.
San Antonio Spurs
They just won't go away. The San Antonio Spurs have defied Father Time over and over again and this season looks to be no different. They dominated the first two rounds of the 2012 playoffs before running into the Thunder, but they're still one of the best coached and most cohesive teams in the league. Tim Duncan and the Spurs are far from done and they might just have one more title run in them.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Los Angeles Clippers have arguably the deepest bench in the league, arguably the best point guard in the league and arguably the most athletic frontline in the league. They've been somewhat streaky to start the season and Vinny Del Negro is still their coach, but the likes of Chris Paul, Blake Griffin and Jamal Crawford put them in with a shot no matter the coaching.
The Memphis Grizzlies are about as physical and hard-nosed a team as you will find in the NBA and have been for a couple of years. Zach Randolph is back to his best it seems and Rudy Gay looks far more comfortable nowadays playing with Randolph on the floor. Marc Gasol continues to play at a high level and the Grizz have continued to win games. This is a dangerous team, and just because they didn't fulfill their dark horse status last year does not mean they aren't ready to do so now.
The Boston Celtics have disappointed to start the 2012-13 NBA season. Their record is middling and they have struggled with inconsistency heading into Christmas. But this team has proven in the past that they don't need to be a one seed to win in the playoffs and they always seem to find their best form come crunch time. Rajon Rondo is still possibly the biggest threat outside of LeBron to go for a triple-double and with him running the point, the C's will always be dangerous.
New York Knicks
No one saw the New York Knicks' hot start coming. Yet, there they sit atop the Eastern Conference, ahead of the defending champions. Questions still remain as to whether Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire can play together, but if the Knicks can continue to spread the floor, play good defense and Anthony delivers in the clutch as has all happened so far, the Knicks will be there or thereabouts in the summer.
The Brooklyn Nets are the other New York City team that has been better than expected. Deron Williams, Joe Johnson and company have looked impressive so far and have turned the Barclays Center into a fortress early on in the young building's life. They play good defense and have enough playmakers on the offensive end to beat anyone. Their bench play has also been stellar, and a deep, talented team always has a shot at making a run to the Finals.
Los Angeles Lakers
It hasn't been as easy as the Los Angeles Lakers had hoped it would be. When they acquired Dwight Howard and Steve Nash to pair with their All-Star duo of Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, the Lakers thought they had a team that would sweep away all before them. Not so fast. After a bad start, coach Mike Brown was canned and though things have improved under the management of Mike D'Antoni, it's not by much. This is not what was envisioned in Lakerland during the offseason, but they're too good not to right the ship. A weak bench is still a huge problem, but once Nash returns from injury, you'll see the offense operate much more efficiently and the defensive confusion will wane as the players get used to the system. If there is a Golden Rule of basketball, it is this: Do not rule out the Lakers.
Okay, I know I'm reaching a bit here, but this was my fun pick. The Minnesota Timberwolves find themselves around .500 in the wins/losses column and didn't have their two best players to begin the season. Kevin Love has returned and is regaining form. Ricky Rubio should be back soon, an once that happens, the Timberwolves start to look pretty dangerous. They have good role players all over the place, they can stretch the floor, rebound and run. I realize the chances of them making a run are slim, but they are a very talented team with a young roster hungry for some success. Remember when the Oklahoma City Thunder were that team?