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Top 10 teams to win next year’s NBA Finals

18 July 2022

The NBA Draft took place last month and since then, we have gotten to see many of the top picks and undrafted players compete in two different Summer League locations, one in Las Vegas and one in Utah. Free agency has already been a roller coaster, to say the least, but teams have started to really take shape for next season.

Even though it’s only been 32 days since Golden State clinched the 2021-2022 NBA title, training camp for next season is less than two months away and sportsbooks have already posted odds on who will prevail in next year’s NBA Finals.

Here, we take a very early look at who we think can make a run at the 2022-2023 NBA title.

10. Brooklyn Nets
You’d think any roster that has Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on it belongs much higher up on the list, but that’s just the thing. These two may not be on the Brooklyn Nets for much longer.

Arguably the most lethal scorer in the game, Kevin Durant requested a trade from the Nets and the team made it known they are willing to hear trades for both all-star caliber players. However, the asking price for Durant seems to be too high so nobody has been able to reach a deal with Brooklyn. There is a solid chance that both Durant and Irving will at least start the season with the team.

So, you may be asking why have them on the list then if they might get traded?

Well, I can’t count out the possibility KD and Kyrie finishing the season with the Nets because if that is the case, then you have a major threat already with just them two.

Also, if they team does trade even just Durant, you are probably looking at getting back a pretty massive haul because you are giving up one of the all-time greats.

It is probably a long-shot that they actually play the entire season with the Nets, but just in case, +2200 on bet365 Sportsbook & Racebook seems too good to glance over and would be a steal if the two ballers stay in Brooklyn.

9. Los Angeles Lakers
The Nets were disappointing last season but not nearly as bad as the Los Angeles Lakers were, who missed even the play-in tournament to make the playoffs last season. Anthony Davis was out for significant time with injury, LeBron also dealt with some time out and Russell Westbrook was not even a small percentage of what many know he can be.

LeBron has said he feels 100% healthy again and Anthony Davis is back in the lab getting his body ready for an 82-game season. There are many rumors circling around how the rest of the roster will look. The Lakers (+1000 on Everygame Sportsbook) already signed Lonnie Walker IV, who they hope can help pick up some of the scoring load.

The main focus though has been if Westbrook will be a Laker this coming season. Everyday, trade ideas surrounding Irving of the Nets and Westbrook come alive on social media and many think it is a real possibility that Westbrook could be involved in a trade to reunite LeBron with Kyrie Irving.

While I think the Lakers need a lot of work to beat some of the powerhouses in the NBA like the Warriors, Celtics and Bucks, my thought is that LeBron is going to do everything he can to avoid missing another playoff run. And once LeBron gets in the playoffs, as history has shown, he takes it to a different level of play.

8. Denver Nuggets
Honestly, I think the Denver Nuggets have had one of the most talented groups over the last couple of years, but for the life of them, they can’t stay healthy and never have their full roster ready to take the court at the same time.

Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. were both absent last season due to injuries but if you put these two back in the starting lineup, you become dangerous immediately. When healthy, Murray is an incredible scorer who knows how to lead the Denver Nuggets (+2000 on bet365) offense.

Oh, and when these two come back, they will be accompanied by none of than the back-to-back MVP, Nikola Jokic who could really use some help. As he was completely gassed during the Western Conference Finals against the Golden State Warriors. He’s probably pretty happy now though after signing the largest contract in NBA history at five years/$270 million.

One player that stood out to me during this season in the absence of Murray and Porter Jr. was Bones Hyland, the rookie from VCU. Hyland is quick off the dribble and in his first season, settled right in and averages just under 10 points per game. I look for him to continue to improve in his sophomore season and help Murray so that he won’t need to play 30+ minutes per game when he first returns to action.

7. Miami Heat
The Miami Heat (+1000 on Everygame) made it to the Eastern Conference Finals but lost in seven games to the Boston Celtics. Both teams dealt with injuries in that series as Kyle Lowry, PJ Tucker and Tyler Herro all had injury issues in the seven-game battle.

The core of Lowry, Herro, Bam Adebayo and Jimmy Butler is enough to get you to the playoffs alone, but the role players really stepped up and can make more noise for them this season.

Max Strus and Gabe Vincent, both undrafted, played significant minutes for the Heat in the postseason and Strus quickly became the sharpshooter that Duncan Robinson was, who now has been slowly rotting on the bench.

This was the first time both Strus and Vincent played those kinds of minutes so I see them taking a leap with their games even further to help this team try to make another run at a title.

They key seems to be Jimmy Butler though. When he is on, the team is successful, and when he struggles, a loss can be likely for them. One of the better two-way players in the league, Butler seems to love to compete and after the tough loss at home in game 7 to end his season, I am sure he will have a chip on his shoulder.

6. Los Angeles Clippers
It’s been a while, but Kawhi Leonard should be playing basketball for the Clippers (+600 on bet365) again. Leonard previously won a title and Finals MVP with the Toronto Raptors in 2019 before signing with the Los Angeles Clippers the following offseason.

Paul George carried the load in Leonard’s absence averaging north of 24 points per game. I’m sure George is ecstatic to have his teammate back because Kawhi is a top defender and can go and get you 20 points night in and night out.

A big move the Clippers made was getting Norman Powell later in the season last year and he averaged over 20 points per game in his five games with the Clippers. But the biggest move came this offseason, when John Wall announced he signed a two-year deal with the Clippers.

Wall hasn’t played a game since April 2021 and even though it seems like he has been a non-factor for a long time, he is only 31 years old. Wall has never averaged below 16 points per game in his career and many hope he can return to the floor general he was with the Washington Wizards when he came out of Kentucky.

5. Philadelphia 76ers
Near the trade deadline last season, Brooklyn and Philadelphia made the blockbuster trade that sent James Harden to Philly for Seth Curry, Ben Simmons and Andrea Drummond. Everyone and Philly immediately saw Harden paired with Joel Embiid and thought “we are unstoppable now.”

Obviously, that wasn’t the case as Philly fell to the Miami Heat in the Easter Conference Semifinals. Harden may not have been the Harden of the Houston Rockets that fans were hoping for but similar to LeBron, Harden has reassured fans that he feels 100% now.

Philly started its free agency journey by signing veteran PJ Tucker, who is a corner three-point shooting specialist and an exceptional defender as well.

Philly probably isn’t done either as Harden announced he is taking a $15 million pay cut to help the front office try and build a stronger team.

At +1200 on Everygame, the 76ers may have found a gem in their draft pick from 2020. Tyrese Maxey out of Kentucky took his game to a new level last year. Averaging just eight points in his rookie season was solid but he exploded for 17.5 points per game last year and is becoming an important piece for this team to be successful.

4. Phoenix Suns
The Phoenix Suns’ fans probably all felt a little worried last week when Deandre Ayton signed an offer-sheet with the Indiana Pacers but that worry was put to rest quickly as the Suns matched the offer in less than one day.

Ayton is already a great big man but still has so much upside to him. The Suns (+550 on bet365) are co-favorites to win the NBA title and are returning their entire starting five from last season along with bench contributors Cam Johnson, Dario Saric, Cameron Payne and Torey Craig.

The offense is led by one of the best point guards this game has seen, Chris Paul. His resume is as long as they come but the only thing missing is a championship ring and this could be the year that box gets checked off.

The most lethal scorer on the team is Devin Booker who led the NBA in first quarter scoring last season and really knows how to score in bunches. Besides Chris Paul who turned 37, this team is still incredibly young and has a bright future.

3. Milwaukee Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks had an earlier exit than they were hoping for as the Celtics knocked them out in the second round of the playoffs in a seven-game dogfight.

The Bucks’ roster lost PJ Tucker to Philly but Kris Middleton missed the series against the Celtics and will be looking to show why he is a major part of Milwaukee’s plan. Middleton is a great complement to Giannis Antetokounmpo, who is probably the biggest matchup nightmare for any NBA team with his size, strength, length and speed.

Jrue Holiday runs the point for the Bucks and I think the Bucks signing Bobby Portis back was a great move because he has done nothing but improve in his time in Milwaukee.

When these guys were all healthy together in the postseason, they won the NBA title back in 2020 so look out for them again if they can stay on the floor together.

2. Boston Celtics
It was a struggle of a Finals series for Celtics star Jayson Tatum, who struggled shooting the ball and limiting turnovers, as did the rest of the team, but him most of all. That being said, he’s only 24 years old and this Celtics team seems to be just getting started as their core is all very young with the exception of 36-year-old Al Horford.

Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Robert Williams III and Tatum were the main young core guys on the team last season who were complimented by bench play of Derrick White and Grant Williams. Right after the loss in the Finals, many believed the Celtics would be back, but after two major offseason moves, it is pretty evident we haven’t seen the last of the Celtics.

Boston (+550 on bet365) is the co-favorite with Phoenix to win it all. The team traded for Indiana Pacers point guard Malcolm Brogdon, who averaged 19 points per game and would be one of the better options for sixth man in the league.

Soon after that, Brad Stevens signed Danilo Gallinari, who at 6-foot-10 dropped just shy of 12 points per game and will be another boost of scoring off the bench for Boston.

The bench scoring was the biggest issue last season for Boston and adding these two will most likely correct that.

1. Golden State Warriors
Of course, the defending champions are going to be on the list. The Golden State Warriors are your 2022 NBA Champions after beating my Boston Celtics in six games.

I’ll never understand how it is possible to guard Steph Curry after watching that series, and honestly it may not even be possible. I was tired just watching him as he is constantly sprinting to get open when he doesn’t have the ball. When he does have the ball, as soon as he crosses halfcourt he is in range to shoot and everyone in the gym knows that.

Andrew Wiggins was another player who had an impressive Finals series and he was also joined by Draymond Green and Klay Thompson, who know from experience what it takes to get the rings.

As crazy as it seems, this team may look even scarier in the 2022-2023 season. The Warriors will be getting back center James Wiseman, who missed all of his sophomore season with an injury. The 7-footer got some reps in summer league and looks like he is ready to make an impact again.

In addition to Wiseman coming back, the Warriors signed Donte DiVincenzo, who fits right into the Warriors style. DiVincenzo can play fast and loves to shoot threes, right up Golden State’s alley.
At +600 on Everygame, the Warriors are my pick to go back-to-back.
Top 10 teams to win next year’s NBA Finals is republished from Online.CasinoCity.com.
Dan Ippolito

As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports. Email him at daniel@casinocity.com, or follow him at @casinocity_dan on Twitter.
Dan Ippolito
As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports. Email him at daniel@casinocity.com, or follow him at @casinocity_dan on Twitter.