The regular season is done and the playoffs are here. In one month we’ll know who the best basketball team in the world this season are. Will the LA Lakers retain their crown? Or will someone come along and knock LeBron James and co off their perch? Here we look at our top five NBA Championship contenders for the 2021 season.
5 contenders to win the 2021 NBA Championship
5. Phoenix Suns
Not everyone will agree with our decision to include the Phoenix Suns in our top five NBA Championship 2021 contenders but, after picking up Chris Paul in the off-season, they went on to post the second best record in the Western Conference. The combination of Paul and Devin Booker have given opposing defences headaches all season long.
The Suns also have a roster that is loaded with young talent like Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton. The trouble they have is that they come face to face with the Lakers in the first round, which means they’re big underdogs. If, however, they can get the win then they won’t fear anybody in a seven-game series. Unfancied? Yes. Impossible winners? No.
4. Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers are somewhat of an oddity. They’re a hard team to judge come the playoffs due to a combination of their injury history and inconsistency in their performances. They did finish the season as the number one seed in the Eastern Conference though but, despite that, they still don’t rank amongst the very top favourites.
So, what do they have to offer in the 2021 NBA Championship race? Well, they have two excellent shooters in Seth Curry and Danny Green who help to create space on the floor. That gives the likes of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid more options to kick out. It also makes them wildly difficult to defend against. Their big challenge is that they’ll have to prove they can stay healthy and play consistently. If they can prove that in the first round then not many teams will want to face them.
3. Utah Jazz
When it comes to NBA Championship contenders, there is usually a standout individual. That’s not the case for the Utah Jazz. Unlike the other teams on this list, the Jazz win games through their tightknit team spirit and teamwork; those qualities led them to the best record in the entire league as well so they need to be taken seriously.
The combination of guards with Mike Conley and Donavan Mitchell has been excellent all season long. When you then throw in Bojan Bogdanovic, who has been great on the wing, Rudy Gobert, a candidate for the Defensive Player of the Year award, and two Sixth Man of the Year finalists in Jordan Clarkson and Joe Ingles and they will fancy their chances against anyone; their taste of the playoffs last season will stand them in good stead too.
2. Los Angeles Lakers
Now we’re getting to the big boys. Competing for success won’t do for the Lakers as they crave winning it. Despite that, there will be plenty of punters placing them further down the list of favourites for the 2021 NBA Championship. That’s purely because of the high expectations fans place on them and the fact their roster have been riddled with injuries all campaign. For our money, they’re still going to be one of the teams to beat.
With the playoffs now here, the Lakers can still boast a roster consisting of a fit and healthy James and Anthony Davis. We’ve already touched on their first round encounter with the Suns, which won’t be easy but when you’re facing two aforementioned stars – James and Davis – there aren’t many who can handle them if they’re on form across seven games.
1. Brooklyn Nets
Topping our list of the 2021 NBA Championship contenders is the Brooklyn Nets. They’ve been the clear favourite for a few months now though so the fact they sit in number one spot won’t surprise many. The driving force behind their good season has been their acquisition business over the last couple of years; Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant both arrived in 2019 before they enhanced their roster even further with James Harden arriving in a trade in January.
Their blockbuster roster doesn’t end their though with Blake Griffin coming in as a free agent after leaving the Detroit Pistons. That means they have got a ridiculous amount of top drawer shooters in their ranks. They could happily outscore every single team on this list and, if anyone stops the Nets, then they’ll probably win the Championship themselves.
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