5 NBA Teams Who Are Still a Few Years Away from Being Legit Threats to the Title

James PearsonCorrespondent ISeptember 14, 2012

5 NBA Teams Who Are Still a Few Years Away from Being Legit Threats to the Title

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    One hand.

    We can count the teams that are serious contenders for the NBA title with one hand. You only need three fingers if we go by the recent ESPN.com poll.

    Compare that to the NFL where half the league are legitimate Super Bowl contenders.

    The NBA needs new teams to become contenders.

    The good news is there are some teams that are just a few years away from being serious contenders.

    There are five teams in better position to become legit title threats in a few years. As soon as these teams mature, we will be able to count the title contenders using two hands.

Los Angeles Clippers

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    The key to making the Los Angeles Clippers title threats rests on the health and development of Blake Griffin.

    Well that, and retaining Chris Paul.

    The Clippers are going to make the playoffs again this season. They, like most of the teams on this list, aren't quite ready to challenge the new look Los Angeles Lakers, defending Western Conference champs Oklahoma City Thunder or the NBA champion Miami Heat.

    The Clippers are a team on the rise. Assuming they can keep Paul happy and in L.A., they will always be a strong team with him as their point guard.

    The Clippers are still a few years away from being serious contenders for a title.

    Griffin just isn't ready. He and DeAndre Jordan need a few more seasons to become better basketball players. That or the Lakers and Thunder need to get worse.

    The Clips could use several more seasons of adding key pieces to their bench to bolster their rotation. More importantly, they need a couple more seasons for their own players to mature, namely Griffin and Jordan. Give them a few years to hit their prime while they add stronger pieces around them.

    After a few years, the Clippers might be the ones hosting the NBA Finals at the Staples Center.

Philadelphia 76ers

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    The Philadelphia 76ers were a nice team last season. They made the playoffs and upset a Derrick Rose-less Chicago Bulls team.

    Apparently, that wasn't good enough.

    Philadelphia went out and traded longtime Sixer Andre Iguodala for Andrew Bynum. This paves the way for a championship-caliber roster.

    There is a new era starting in Philadelphia built around a superstar center.

    Since the Miami Heat are still around, they won't be quite ready for a title this season.

    Give them a couple of years.

    Their stellar young talent could use a couple of years to mature. Bynum will only get better after a couple of seasons being the alpha dog, years where he can turn into a man.

    As long as the Sixers have Bynum, they will be a contending team. In a few seasons, when their young talent hits their prime, then they can get serious about winning an NBA title.

Denver Nuggets

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    The Denver Nuggets are another beneficiary of the Dwight Howard trade. It seemed like the Orlando Magic went out of their way to help as many NBA teams as they could in dealing Howard.

    Right now, the Nuggets have the talent and depth to compete with anyone in the Western Conference.

    Competing for an NBA title is another thing.

    The Nuggets' best shot at a title will come in a few years when Danilo Gallinari, Ty Lawson, JaVale McGee and Kenneth Faried will all be in their prime and have plenty of postseason experience.

    Getting McGee to mature will be the key. As bad as his Twitter lunch invitation was, at least he learned from it. Give people more than ten minutes to meet for lunch!

    He actually showed he could learn from his mistakes. He just needs that learning experience to translate onto the basketball court.

    The Andre Iguodala situation is a unique one.

    If he is a great fit in a couple of years when the Lakers are older and the Nuggets are more mature, they will be serious contenders. If Iguodala is not a long-term solution, they can use his salary cap number to find a player to better complement their roster. This should be a win-win for the Nuggets.

    They have a good thing going on in Denver.

    It will just take a few seasons to catch the Lakers and the Thunder.

Indiana Pacers

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    Here is another victim of the super teams of the NBA, namely the Miami Heat. The Indiana Pacers actually looked like they could have beaten Miami last season, but when the Heat turned it up, the Pacers were on their way out.

    As it stands, the Pacers boast a roster that could contend for as high as a No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference.

    Could they possibly beat the Miami Heat in a seven-game series?

    The Pacers have a great foundation. They have an All-Star center in Roy Hibbert and a well-rounded roster with an emerging star in Paul George.

    George may be able to make the leap this season, but it's Danny Granger that needs to step up or step out.

    He is a free agent in two years, and his absence would allow George to blossom. The Pacers could then substitute a more complementary piece to the rest of their team.

    They actually might be better without him. However, it may take a few seasons to see what the right move is, but while the Heat are intact, the Pacers need Granger to become a star or make changes to get serious about contending for a title.

Utah Jazz

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    The Utah Jazz are on their way.

    They swiftly dealt a disgruntled superstar, acquiring pieces to build a championship contender. The Jazz now boast as much young talent as any other team in the NBA.

    Derrick Favors, a former top-three pick, should take the leap into NBA stardom this year.

    Their center of the future, Enes Kanter was a top-three pick. That's all that can be said about him right now, but the potential is there. Their backcourt has players in Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks.

    Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap are the current stars of this team, but both are impending free agents. The Jazz have the flexibility to improve via free agency or retain their stars and wait for their young players to develop.

    With just nine million dollars committed to players next year (seriously, nine million), and the eventual Golden State Warriors draft pick, which may be a lottery selection, the Jazz have a blueprint for a championship contender.

    That young talent did make the postseason last season, and they now have that experience under their belts.

    With a couple of right moves, the sky will be the limit for the Jazz.