Founded in 1946, the NBA, or the National Basketball Association, is one of the most popular sports leagues in the world. Every year, 30 teams from the United States and Canada compete to make it to the Championship Finals and lift the prestigious Larry O’Brien Championship Trophy.
Over the years the NBA has witnessed greatness, with legendary figures such as Magic Johnson, Larry Bird, Kobe Bryant, Shaquille O’Neal, and Michael Jordan, all gracing the court with their incredible skills.
Today, superstar players including LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, and many more, continue to make basketball one of the most exciting, edge of the seat sports in the world.
Last year, the Denver Nuggets defeated the Miami Heat (4-1) in the finals to capture the team’s first ever NBA championship. As the new season gets underway, we look at the favourites to see if anyone can defeat the defending champions and lift the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
Back-to-back championships are nothing new, in fact twelve teams have done it since the first NBA Championship in 1950. But they are definitely not easy to do. Despite that, the Nuggets remain favorites to retain their title according to the very latest NBA odds and it’s hard to argue against them achieving it.
Losing Bruce Brown and Jeff Green is a blow, and their roster has a host of inexperienced youngsters including Peyton Watson, Hunter Tyson, Julian Strawther, and Jalen Pickett, but when you have Nikola Jokić and Jamal Murray on your team it doesn’t really matter.
Denver’s head coach Michael Malone has the experience of going all the way and his starting five remains the best in the league. If they stay injury free, the Nuggets look hard to beat.
- Nikola Jokic
- Jamal Murray
- Aaron Gordon
- Michael Porter Jr.
The Bucks entered last postseason with the best record in the NBA, they then lost in the first round to the Miami Heat, a result that saw head coach Mike Budenholzer fired and replaced him with first-time head coach Adrian Griffin. The Bucks also traded Jrue Holiday for seven-time All-NBA guard Damian Lillard, teaming him up with two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in what promises to be an exciting line up. If they can learn from the mistakes of last year, don’t bet against the Bucks going all the way.
- Giannis Antetokounmpo
- Damian Lillard
- Khris Middleton
- Brook Lopez
- Bobby Portis
They may hold the record, alongside the Lakers, for the most NBA Championships than anybody else, but the Celtics haven’t lifted the Larry O’Brien trophy since a 4-2 victory over the Lakers in 2008.
Last year promised so much and ended with familiar disappointment for Boston fans. Despite nearly pulling off the first 3-0 comeback in NBA history in the Eastern Conference finals against Miami Heat, they ultimately fell tantalisingly short.
Most NBA Championship Wins:
- Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics – 17 wins
- Golden State Warriors – 7 wins
- Chicago Bulls – 6 wins
- San Antonio Spurs – 5 wins
- Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons and Philadelphia 76ers – 3 wins
- Milwaukee Bucks, Houston Rockets and New York Knicks – 2 wins
There have been big changes over the summer including swapping out Marcus Smart for Kristaps Porzingis in a three-team deal involving the Grizzlies and the Wizards. Head Coach Joe Mazzulla, who led the Celtics to a 57-25 record and the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference in his first ever season, also remains in charge.
- Jayson Tatum
- Jaylen Brown
- Jrue Holiday
- Kristaps Porzingis
Golden State Warriors
The 2022 champions claim to have put the disappointment of last season behind them. Playoff elimination in the Western Conference semifinals by the Los Angeles Lakers was a disappointing end for the defending champions.
Last Five NBA Champions:
- 2023: Denver Nuggets defeated Miami Heat (4-1)
- 2022: Golden State Warriors defeated Boston Celtics (4-2)
- 2021: Milwaukee Bucks defeated Phoenix Suns (4-2)
- 2020: Los Angeles Lakers defeated Miami Heat (4-2)
- 2019: Toronto Raptors defeated Golden State Warriors (4-2)
Determined to add to their seven titles, the Warriors have made a huge number of changes as they look to rectify the problems of last year. Mike Dunleavy has replaced Bob Myers as general manager, while Jordan Poole was traded to Washington for Chris Paul.
Other newcomers include Dario Šarić, Cory Joseph, Usman Garuba, and rookies Brandin Podziemski and Trayce Jackson-Davis. With Steph Curry on their roster the Warriors are a threat to any team, but the changes will need to gel quickly if they’re to challenge for the title.
- Stephen Curry
- Klay Thompson
- Andrew Wiggins
- Draymond Green
- Chris Paul
- Kevon Looney
Looking beyond the teams we’ve already highlighted, the Phoenix Suns with Kevin Durant, Devin Booker, and Bradley Beal cannot be ruled out, while the Lakers and four-time MVP winner, LeBron James, will be hoping for the franchise’s first title since 2020.
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