November 27, 2021

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NBA title contenders who could abdicate

NBA title contenders who could abdicate

The Milwaukee Bucks 29 teams strive for their crown.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, even after injuring his knee in the conference finals, led the Bucks to their first title in 50 years last season. He was the NBA Finals player of the year and was the focal point of the team’s run through the Finals over the Phoenix Suns.

Milwaukee also brought back Khris Middleton, Giroud Holiday and Brooke Lopez to the starting line-up.

There are a few strong competitors in both conferences. But there are five people who can actually run and lower the Bucks’ hopes of repeating as champions.

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Atlanta Hawks forward John Collins shows emotion on the field against the Miami Heat in the first half of October 14, 2021, at State Farm Arena in Atlanta, Georgia.
(Brett Davis-USA Today Sports)

John Collins said before the start of the season that Kyrie Irving’s absence from the Nets could eventually hurt the team. He said he felt like a hawk The real contenders For the NBA title. He is not mistaken.

Trae Young played a big role in why the Hawks reached the Eastern Conference Finals, but lost to the Bucks last season. The presence of Young, Collins, Bogdan Bogdanovic, Clint Capella, DeAndre Hunter and Cam Reddish would make Atlanta legitimate contenders for the NBA title.

    Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook (0) during the game against the Golden State Warriors on October 12, 2021 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California.  Warriors won, 111-99.

Los Angeles Lakers guard Russell Westbrook (0) during the game against the Golden State Warriors on October 12, 2021 at Staples Center in Los Angeles, California. Warriors won, 111-99.
(Kiyoshi Mio-USA TODAY Sports)

Any team with LeBron James would fight for the title. Injuries to James and Anthony Davis cost the Lakers last season. The team entered the playoffs only to get soaked in the sun. James is likely to be healthy this season as well as Davis.

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The team added Russell Westbrook to the mix at the offseason. Although his player efficiency rating has fallen from 2019-20 to 2020-21 and he has missed an All-Star debut in six seasons, Westbrook is still averaging three times as much. Having anyone on the team who does that will definitely increase your chances of winning the title.

Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon looks to pass the ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic on Sunday, April 4, 2021 in Denver.

Denver Nuggets forward Aaron Gordon looks to pass the ball during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Orlando Magic on Sunday, April 4, 2021 in Denver.
(AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

Denver has NBA MVP Nikola Jokic, potential star in Michael Porter Jr. and an entire season from Aaron Gordon. The Nuggets can also restore Murray’s beauty during the season as he recovers from a ruptured ACL. Denver has been among the top teams in the Western Conference for a few years now, and their window to win is as big as it will be.

, Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown reacts after a three-point basket against the San Antonio Spurs in the third quarter, April 30, 2021, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.

, Boston Celtics guard Jaylen Brown reacts after a three-point basket against the San Antonio Spurs in the third quarter, April 30, 2021, at TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts.
(David Butler II – USA Today Sports)

The Celtics looked like they could beat the Nets in the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs last season. The team didn’t get the best showing from Kemba Walker, and Jaylen Brown was injured. Walker is gone, Brown is healthy and if Robert Williams and Marcus Smart keep up their hard work, the Celtics could turn heads and could run towards the title from the East.

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Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant is seen making a three-point shot during the fourth quarter of Game 5 of the second round of the NBA basketball playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks, Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in New York.

Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant is seen making a three-point shot during the fourth quarter of Game 5 of the second round of the NBA basketball playoff series against the Milwaukee Bucks, Tuesday, June 15, 2021, in New York.
(Associated Press/Kathy Wells)

Kevin Durant’s foot was the difference between going the net to the conference finals and watching their opponents win the tournament. Even as Kyrie Irving’s season has changed, the team still has James Harden and a deeper seat to make the Nets one of the best teams in the league.