The 2022-23 NBA season tips off on October 19. There will be two games played that night: the Celtics face the 76ers, and the Lakers play against the Warriors. Surprisingly, only two of these teams are on my list of top contenders to make this year’s NBA Finals.
The Boston Celtics have a young roster and have repeatedly proven themselves in the regular season and the playoffs. Jayson Tatum leads this team as a top three small forward in the NBA, and assisting him is underrated shooting guard Jaylen Brown. The Celtics also have many unspoken stars like Al Horford, Marcus Smart, and Robert Williams III. This team has won a lot in the regular season, but they have a recent history of losing in the postseason. On September 22, Ime Udoka, the head coach, was found to have a relationship with a Celtics staff woman, forcing the NBA to suspend him for the entire season. This could affect this team’s record, but I think that the Celtics will find a way to stay on top of the Eastern Conference. They had the taste of a ring last year, and that has only made this team hungrier for a championship.
According to NBA enthusiast, sophomore Noah Montz, “The Celtics will be one of the best teams in the East with an MVP in Jayson Tatum; this is due to last year’s performance in the playoffs; they got to the Finals, but came up just short.”
The Golden State Warriors have been consistently great for the past seven years. After winning his fourth ring, Stephen Curry has proven himself to be a top ten all-time NBA player. This explosive team has two lights-out 3-point shooters with Curry and Klay Thompson. Along with them, promising young athletes Johnathan Kuminga and Jordan Poole have shown determination and potential; Andrew Wiggins has been consistent since he arrived in February, 2020. Draymond Green has been a great defender and passer and has improved his rebounding ability since he came to the league. There were many reasons why this excellent team won last year’s Finals, and they want to show that they can do it again.
The Minnesota Timberwolves are an exciting young team with an undeniable desire to win. Karl-Anthony Towns (KAT) is the face of this franchise, but that doesn’t mean he is all they have. They just traded for former Defensive Player of the Year, Rudy Gobert. Rookie of the Year runner-up in 2021, Anthony Edwards, is a thrilling rising star. To top it all off, point guard D’Angelo Russel has consistently been there for the team. The Timberwolves lost to the Grizzlies last year in the opening round of the playoffs. This franchise has never won a championship, and with the new addition of Rudy Gobert, they are looking to change that.
The Milwaukee Bucks drafted Giannis Antetokounmpo in 2013, and he has been dominating the league since. Giannis has earned back-to-back MVPs, Defensive Player of the Year, a Finals Championship, and a Finals MVP. This team has one of the best defenses in the league, and their offense is always threatening. Giannis has gotten the help he needed from Jrue Holiday and Kris Middleton, and even though they made barely any offseason moves, they still have a big chance of winning.
Self-proclaimed NBA aficionado, Sam Gold, a senior at Saint Paul’s, has high expectations for the Bucks this year. “The Bucks already have a winning history, and they looked like they could have won last year if Khris Middleton was not injured. After an offseason with no major moves, the Bucks are poised to win again.”
The Dallas Mavericks have had a one-person team in Luka Doncic for the past four years, which is why they haven’t made it to the finals. They recently traded for Christian Wood, and this addition could be a game-changer in the paint. Luka is a great passer, and Wood can quickly put the ball in the basket. He might be that inside threat that this team needs. The Mavericks are a team of young up-and-comers, including Dwight Powell and Jaden Hardy. Even with all these young players, there is still a veteran presence in JaVale McGee, Spencer Dinwiddie, and Tim Hardaway Jr. Luka and the Mavericks fell short of the Finals last year. They are not looking for another loss.
The New Orleans Pelicans have one of the league’s most exciting young teams. For the first part of the year, this team was looking miserable. Zion Williamson, their supposed “savior,” missed all of last season with a toe injury. Brandon Ingram was in and out with multiple injuries, and it didn’t feel like there was any chance of the playoffs. In the middle of the season, however, the Pels traded for CJ McCollum, hoping he could bring them out of this pit of losses. He did. They made it to the Play-In Tournament, which they won, and went to the playoffs, losing to the Pheonix Suns. This team has incredible depth on its bench, and with a healthy Zion and Ingram, the Pels are being overlooked by the media.
Some teams, like the Brooklyn Nets and the Memphis Grizzlies, just missed my list. The Nets have too many off-court problems, and the Grizzlies need to figure out how to deal with Morant and Jaren Jackson Jr.’s injury woes.
My Bold Prediction: The Dallas Mavericks will win the NBA Finals.