As all basketball fans will know, the new NBA season has just begun. In a very long regular season, we will see some of the greatest ever to play the game perform for their teams as they strive towards the championship finals next year.
The Las Vegas sportsbooks have already been busy with the flurry of early season games and we may even see Alabama betting laws change, as more states follow the lead allowing sports fans to back their favorite teams. But while we wait for that, we can enjoy some incredible players in the NBA every week. Here are five teams we are especially looking forward to watching this year.
Golden State Warriors
The Warriors have appeared in six of the last eight NBA finals – and have won four of them. For a while a few years back it looked as if they were completely unstoppable. But after two seasons of injuries to top players, they returned last year to beat the Celtics in six games to become champions.
With Klay Thompson getting back to his best and Steph Curry being consistently incredible, Golden State could well repeat once again. But there are some exciting youngsters coming through as well. So, if the likes of Moses Moody and James Wiseman step up, the Dubs could be the ones to beat once more.
The Grizzlies have been a long-term project that is really beginning to bear fruit now. A good run in the playoffs last season was only hampered by an injury to Ja Morant – and showed just what an important player he is for this franchise. He will be the main focus for Memphis this year, but there is a more than competent back-up team too.
Desmond Bane and Dillon Brooks will keep Memphis in the playoff hunt this season and it will be a huge surprise if the Grizzlies don’t make it at least that far. An injury to Jaren Jackson Jr. is a blow for the early months of this season but look to him to come back stronger later in the year.
A lot will depend on the fitness of Giannis Antetokounmpo, of course. ‘The Greek Freak’ is one of the most exciting players in the world and is central to any potential success for the Bucks. He is also a very good pick for the annual MVP award, as he has shown in the past.
But Milwaukee is not just one player. Jrue Holiday and Brook Lopez back up their main man to ensure that the Bucks are always near to the top of the standings in the Eastern Conference. A good core of veteran players that have been all the way before should be able to maintain a challenge for the championship.
Denver is one of those NBA teams that seem to be universally regarded as a good team, without ever really getting the adulation it probably deserves. A lot of that goodwill is because of Nikola Jokić. He is a perennial MVP contender and makes more highlights shows than just about any other player in the league.
But, as with any good team worth keeping an eye on, there is more to the Nuggets than just Jokić. Jamal Murray is back from a long-term knee injury and Michael Porter Jr. is returning too. There’s a really good offense brewing in Denver this year and this is a team that could cause a few upsets.
New Orleans Pelicans
When Zion Williamson entered the league a few years ago the anticipation was palpable. Some really bad injuries have meant that we have not seen the magic close up in the NBA yet. But all that could change this year as he returns to the court more motivated than ever.
The Pelicans managed to get into the playoffs last year without Williamson but could make further inroads in 2023. CJ McCollum and Brandon Ingram back up the main star as far as shooting goes. If all three can also turn up on the other side of the ball, the Western Conference might not be quite as predictable as previously thought.