NBA contenders narrow down following historic trade deadline

NBA contenders narrow down following historic trade deadline

Braylon Obleman, Staff Writer

With the historic NBA trade deadline and the season seeing stars like James Harden, Ben Simmons, and C.J. McCollum moving to new teams, the NBA championship favorites have narrowed down. In the NBA, anyone can end up a champion, but after the deadline the true contenders have shown themselves. The five main teams in contention include the Golden State Warriors, Phoenix Suns, Brooklyn Nets, Milwaukee Bucks, and Philadelphia 76ers.

The Golden State Warriors are headlined by backcourt superstars Steph Curry and Klay Thompson, and all-star front court selections, Andrew Wiggins, and Draymond Green. They have many strengths but one of the most important things most of the that most of the other teams don’t have, is the championship experience. “The Big 3” Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, and Draymond Green as they are often referred to, have been to 5 straight stretching from 2015 to 2019, winning 3. All the other main contenders have just 2 appearances and 1 championship total in the last 7 years. Unfortunately, the Warriors main weakness is out of their control being injuries. Curry, Thompson, and Green have all missed time this season and they all impact the game in very different ways that is virtually irreplaceable.

The Phoenix Suns, led by Chris Paul and Devin Booker, will be hungry to make in back to the championship following last year’s finals loss. The strong point of the Suns comes from probably comes from just that, the urgency to win. Chris Paul at age 36 with still 0 championship rings, will be as hungry as even to get his ring. Devin Booker is still looking to prove himself as an NBA superstar by winning a championship and will be just as hungry for his ring as Paul. The flaw in the Suns could come in there spacing of the floor. While the Suns have plenty of capable shooters, they are third to last in three pointers attempted with just 31 3s per 100 total shots.

The Brooklyn Nets come into the second half of the season being contenders despite being just the 8 seed currently. They made a huge trade with the 76ers losing James Harden but adding Ben Simmons, sharpshooter Seth Curry, and center Andre Drummond. The Nets’ main strength is the near flawlessness in the starting lineup with superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving to headline, and proven serviceable players Seth Curry, Ben Simmons, and Andre Drummond. The main weakness of the Nets comes down the uncertainty of Simmons and Irving. As of now Simmons is not play at all due to his mental and physical health, but is eyeing a return before the playoffs, coming back from almost a year of no basketball won’t necessarily be a perfect transition. Irving is only playing in 50% of the games (away games) due to New York Covid-19 laws and his refusal to get the COVID vaccination.

The defending champion Milwaukee Bucks are once again back in contention. The Bucks’ strong point comes on the other side of the ball, defense. The two time most valuable and last year’s Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo is also a great defending, winning the defensive player of the year in 2019. Secondary stars Jrue Holiday, and Khris Middleton are known as some of the best perimeter defenders in the NBA, with 3 NBA all defense teams made to show for it. The main weakness of the Bucks comes in the fact that they have hardly changed their roster whatsoever. They did look beatable last year, going down 2-0 in the finals last season, and teams may have picked up on some things while watching the playoffs last season

Finally, the Philadelphia 76ers have moved on from Ben Simmons adding James Harden. The Sixer’s main strength is the fire power they possess with possibly the best duo in the NBA with MVP front runner Joel Embiid and former MVP James Harden. This duo has not yet lost starting 6-0. The weakness might come in the playoffs considering they have not played a single playoff game together and have not had the same experience the rest of the teams have had.

Overall, even though those may be the 5 main contenders, it is no guarantee that any of those teams win it all. Teams that are having a great regular season like the Miami Heat, the Memphis Grizzlies, Chicago Bulls, Utah Jazz, Boston Celtics, and Dallas Mavericks should all be able to give these 5 teams a run for their money.