- Five challengers to the Golden State Warriors this season
Five challengers to the Golden State Warriors this season
Last season, the
Golden State Warriors defied the odds to break the Chicago Bulls’
long-standing regular season record of 72 wins in a single campaign. Unanimous MVP Stephen Curry
led the Warriors all the way to the NBA Finals but they fell short
against a spirited Cleveland Cavaliers side – one of the biggest shocks
in recent years.
That defeat may spur Golden State on as they look to get their hands
back on the NBA title this campaign. Kevin Durant joined the Warriors
from the Oklahoma City Thunder in the offseason and they are streets
ahead of the competition on paper.
However, basketball games aren’t won on paper and there are plenty of
teams who will be quietly confident of pipping the Warriors to the
crown – here are five contenders who are tipped to challenge this year.
San Antonio Spurs
Tim Duncan era may be over but the Spurs are just getting warmed up –
and it would take a brave man to back against Gregg Popovich’s men this
With the likes of Kawhi Leonard and Pau Gasol, who was signed to
replace Duncan after the legendary Spurs star announced his retirement,
on the roster, San Antonio have enough quality to push Golden State
close at the very least.
Popovich’s side won’t find it easy but if anyone is capable of defying the odds, it is the San Antonio Spurs.
Boston showed glimpses of quality last year but fell
short at key moments throughout the campaign. However, All-Star center
Al Horford, who joined from the Atlanta Hawks in the offseason, will bring both talent and experience to the Celtics line-up.
In the 2015/16 campaign, Boston finished with a 48-34 record but
Horford gives them a much better chance of pipping the Toronto Raptors
to the Atlantic Division after losing out to their rivals in each of
the last three years.
The Celtics are building a monster at TD Garden and it wouldn’t be a
huge surprise to see Boston go close this year. Golden State will be
wary of Brad Stevens’ men.
the Raptors will be confident of winning the Atlantic Division for the
fourth year in a row – even with the resurgent Celtics on the rise.
With DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry in the ranks, Toronto have two of the
NBA’s finest attacking talents – and they will more or less win matches
on their own this season.
At the very least, Toronto will expect to reach the latter stages of
the playoffs; and that could be enough to test Golden State’s
dominance. If the Raptors play at their best, Curry and co could be in
The Raptors recorded a franchise-record 56 wins last season and they
will be looking to improve once again in the 2016/17 campaign. Toronto
will be targeting 60 victories at the very least.
Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers have surpassed the Lakers as Los Angeles’ primary basketball team and Kobe Bryant’s departure will only help to give Doc Rivers’ men an even greater advantage over their city rivals.
Los Angeles finished with 53 victories last season but came up short
against the Warriors in their divisional battle. If nothing else, their
head-to-head clashes during the regular season could help the Clippers
to plan for a postseason battle with Golden State’s talented stars.
NBA legend Paul Pierce is entering his final season after a 19-year
career – and Los Angeles will be keen on pulling something special out
of the bag as he looks to win a second title.
However, Cleveland are THE team to beat this year.
The defending NBA champions have an exceptional squad and LeBron James,
Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love are widely regarded as the best offensive
trio in the league.
Without doubt, the Cavaliers will fancy their chances of ousting Golden
State for the second year in a row – and it would take a brave man to
back against the current champions.
If anyone can beat Golden State, Cleveland can. After all, they managed it once so why can’t they do it again?