The new NBA season is just two weeks away and what a season it promises to be. Having fallen agonizingly short in 2014/15, LeBron James will be looking to cement his place in history by guiding the Cleveland Cavaliers to that elusive title – but can they overcome defending champions Golden State this time around? And who else might jump in to spoil the party? We take a look at five teams to keep an eye on in 2015/16:
Golden State Warriors
The defending NBA champions will certainly be in the mix again this season. Having seen little change to their hugely impressive roster, they remain a lethal treat in offense thanks to the incredible shooting prowess of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson and should again be difficult to break down in defense. Hard to spot too many weaknesses here.
The big guns of the Eastern Conference have every right to be confident of going all the way this time around after falling just two wins short of the title last season. The Cavs actually led Golden State 2-1 during their epic NBA Finals series just a few short months ago but the absence of Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love and Anderson Varejao through injury ultimately proved too big a hurdle to overcome. Now that key trio is back and if they can stay fit when it matters most – particularly with LeBron James leading the way – they should be aiming for nothing less than top prize.
San Antonio Spurs
The 2013/14 champions look primed for another shot at the title after beating out a dozen other contenders to sign free agent LaMarcus Aldridge from Portland. Having averaged over 23 points and 10 rebounds last season, he adds a whole lot more strike power to a Spurs squad already considered one of the most complete in the NBA. The fresher legs will also help their aging roster as they aim to again become the dominant force in the West.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The great side that never quite was, can Oklahoma City finally live up to their potential and make it all the way to the big show this season? The short answer is yes – but only if their star-studded roster can finally stay healthy. Injuries have been the bane of the Thunder’s existence in recent years but if Kevin Durant – who played just 27 games last season – and Russell Westbrook can stay on court alongside what seems a well-balanced squad, they might finally be eying a title.
The great unknown of this season, it seems more than a little over the top that some sportsbooks have the Bulls listed as third favorites to go all the way in 2015/16. Perhaps wooed by the star combination of Derrick Rose and Jimmy Butler, the theory is that if both players fire Chicago will be near impossible to stop. But what actually makes the Bulls most intriguing is the fact that it could go either way. There is a feeling in many circles that Rose and Butler are more likely to spend their time fighting for control of the offense rather than forming a truly great duo which in turn could trigger an epic implosion. Then again, how much time will the injury-plagued Rose spend on court this year anyway? So many questions to be answered!