The NBA season is finally rolling after a long layoff due to the lockout. Over the summer, people had nothing to do, but analyze which teams would be championship contenders for the next season. Now that we've seen each team play at least 10 games, we have a good idea of who should be great contenders for the title.
With over 50 games left, anything can happen in the NBA. But as fans, there is nothing better than to debate which teams will win it all. Here are my top five choices to hoist the trophy up at the end of the year.
The Thunder have been the Cinderella story the last two years in the playoffs, but there are no excuses for them to not make the Finals this year. They have a two-headed monster with Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, and James Harden would be a star if he was on any other team. Harden can do anything for the Thunder which makes this team very versatile.
If the Thunder want to win the title next year then Westbrook must mature. Early in the season he has already gotten into shouting matches with his teammates, and championship caliber teams can not deal with that on their roster.
I have no doubt that Durant and Westbrook can play together. If they can start to mesh together and the Thunder start to play better then they should be the favorites coming from the West.
There is no excuse for the Miami Heat not win the title this year.
They have three superstars and this is their second year together. At the beginning of the season they were playing lights-out basketball. Teams did not know how to slow down LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.
However, things have taken a bit of a turn. Wade got hurt in last night's game against the Nuggets, and they lost their third straight game. Their are so many questions surrounding the Heat.
The Heat have been getting better point guard play this year out of Mario Chalmers and rookie Norris Cole, but the team still lacks a big center.
This team also needs to find a closer and hope Wade is not out to long. If LeBron James could ever develop into the go-to-guy and Wade is healthy in the playoffs, this team should be East Champions.
What a difference a month can make.
Last month, the Lakers thought they had Chris Paul until David Stern rejected the trade. Then Lamar Odom was traded to the Mavericks, and the Lakers seemed to be the second best team in L.A. behind the Clippers.
The Lakers are in first place in the Pacific Division and Kobe Bryant is playing like he is 25. Bryant has scored 40 points in three straight games and is determined to show critics he is not slowing down.
It is always nice to see Bryant put up good numbers, but the strength of this team is defense. Pau
Gasol and Andrew Bynum are defending the post well, and they are fourth in the league in points allowed.
However, Bynum has a history of being injured. If he goes down, then the Lakers have a problem. But as long as he is healthy this Lakers team has enough talent and experience to challenge the Thunder for the West.
Derrick Rose and the Chicago Bulls have been playing some of the best basketball this year.
Rose looks like he is aiming for another MVP award, but his main goal is get to the Finals this year. Richard Hamilton gave the Bulls a shooting guard they desperately needed. The whole team has been playing well and this team looks like a real championship contender.
Carlos Boozer and Joakim Noah need to keep getting rebounds and easy shots, because that will help Rose out a lot. This team has a good offense, a go-to-guy and a tough defense.
The Bulls have the least weaknesses on this list, and they are my favorite to win the championship this year.
Yes, I have the Portland Trail Blazers on this list.
You can call me stupid, but look at these things first:
Have you seen the Trail Blazers' roster?
The Trail Blazers are very talented and no doubt the deepest in the league. When you have guys like Jamal Crawford and Nicolas Batum coming off the bench, that shows depth. They have a true point guard in Raymond Felton to lead the offense, Wesley Matthews and Gerald Wallace have the wings locked down, and they also have Kurt Thomas and Greg Oden coming off the bench at the center position.
Aldridge is becoming one of the premier power forwards in the league. He is averaging 23 points and eight rebounds a game. He is having a career year and should be leading them to the Finals.
The Trail Blazers almost knocked the Mavericks out of the playoffs last year ,taking them to six games so they have a little bit of experience. They have a good offense, but they need to get tougher on the defensive side of the ball. Do not be surprised if the Trail Blazers make a deep run in the playoffs. This team is talented and very deep.