The Denver Nuggets' celebrations have come to an end, and now the focus shifts to the flurry of trades taking centre stage. Players are expressing their excitement for the upcoming season as teams conclude their training camps. The 78th season of the NBA is upon us, and the tip-off is right around the corner.
Numerous teams are entering the new season with the hope of making up for past shortcomings. The Miami Heat, in particular, are eager to take another shot at reclaiming their lost championship. Every team is gearing up to compete for the title, and there is no shortage of star-studded squads aiming to challenge Nikola Jokic and the Nuggets.
With the start of the National Basketball Association (NBA) season just over three weeks away, it's time for us to provide you with our preseason previews.
The Milwaukee Bucks, once favoured to emerge from the Eastern Conference last year, suffered a shocking defeat to the Miami Heat in the first round of the playoffs. Since their appearance in the NBA championship finals in 2021, they have faced significant challenges. Over the past two seasons, they have exited the playoffs earlier than expected, dealt with injuries, and encountered occasional issues with player performance and coaching decisions in the postseason. However, this year, the Bucks are poised to make a strong comeback with the return of their core trio: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Brook Lopez.
The addition of Damian Lillard via trade has provided them with much-needed offensive firepower. It remains to be seen how far the Milwaukee Bucks can advance in the 2024 season, with Damian Lillard significantly enhancing their offensive capabilities. While this addition significantly strengthens Giannis Antetokounmpo's supporting cast, the question remains whether it will be sufficient to secure a championship in 2024.
In the regular season, the Bucks are expected to excel once again as long as Giannis Antetokounmpo remains healthy. They are still considered contenders, but there is the underlying scepticism that the Bucks may not match their impressive 58-win pace from the previous season.
Additions: Malik Beasley, Robin Lopez, Andre Jackson Jr. (36th overall pick in the 2023 Draft), Chris Livingston (58th overall pick in the 2023 Draft)
Contract extended: Re-signed Khris Middleton, Brook Lopez, and Jae Crowder
After their run to the Eastern Conference Finals last season fell short of the NBA Finals, the Boston Celtics are setting their sights on returning to the championship stage in the upcoming 2023-24 season. While the ultimate outcome remains uncertain until the season concludes, the Celtics have garnered favourable offseason grades for their efforts in addressing key areas of improvement.
Among the significant moves made, trading Kristaps Porzingis and extending Jaylen Brown stand out. However, the team also bolstered their depth by adding players like Svi Mykhailiuk, Oshae Brissett, Dalano Banton, Neeimas Queta, and others to their roster. With Porzingis in the mix, the Celtics are poised to build upon their 57-25 record from the previous season, provided they can avoid major setbacks due to injuries.
Moreover, it appears highly likely that Jayson Tatum will ink a contract extension during the course of this season, further solidifying the Celtics' prospects. With their eyes firmly fixed on the NBA Championship, the Boston Celtics are anticipated to once again emerge as frontrunners in the conference.
As reported by ESPN, Porzingis showcased his abilities in the 2022/23 season by averaging 23.2 points, 8.4 rebounds, 2.7 assists, and 1.5 blocks per game. His shooting percentages were impressive, with a 49.8% overall field goal percentage, 38.5% from three-point range, and 85.1% from the free-throw line. The All-Star player, who signed an extension with the Celtics after, has maintained career averages of 19.6 points, 7.9 rebounds, 1.8 assists, and 1.8 blocks throughout his tenure with the New York Knicks, Dallas Mavericks, and Washington Wizards.
The Nuggets are arguably the best team in the Western Conference when led by a fully fit Michael Porter Jr. and complemented by the incredible talents of two-time MVP Nikola Jokic. Their NBA Championship triumph showcased Jokic's potential as the league's best and most influential player.
The Nuggets' success was further bolstered by outstanding contributions from their entire roster under the guidance of head coach Michael Malone. Additionally, they enjoyed stellar seasons from Aaron Gordon and Bruce Brown, who played dominantly in the NBA playoffs, ultimately securing the franchise's first-ever NBA championship.
However, heading into the new season, The Nuggets face a significant challenge in the offseason, as they opted to let Bruce Brown go as part of a deal with Indianapolis. This decision means they have allowed one of their best defensive players to join another team. They plan to groom Christian Braun and elevate Watson's role, increasing their minutes on the court. Nevertheless, they must acknowledge the substantial gap left by Brown's absence, as his exceptional defensive skills, and energy were instrumental to their success in the 2023 season.
There are lots of teams looking to knock off Niko Jokic and the Nuggets. However, if the likes of Aaron Gordon, Michael Porter Jr., and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope are also available during the playoffs, the Nuggets will prove to be hard to beat.
Recent history has taught the NBA world one undeniable truth: the Miami Heat can never be underestimated when it comes to championship contention. However, the 2023 offseason for the Heat has left many feeling disappointed. While acquisitions like Thomas Bryant and Josh Richardson are expected to bolster the team to some extent, fans had bigger aspirations at the outset of the offseason. The failure to secure Damian Lillard from the Portland Trail Blazers was a significant blow to Miami's hopes.
The 2022-23 season was a tale of two halves for the Heat. They performed decently in the regular season, amassing a record of 44 wins and 38 losses, barely clinching a playoff spot through the play-in tournament. Yet, in the playoffs, the Heat turned heads by defeating the Chicago Bulls in the single-game knockout play-in match, 102-91. They followed this up by upsetting the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round, then dispatching the New York Knicks in the Eastern Conference semifinals, and finally overcoming the Boston Celtics in the Eastern Conference finals.
As the 2023-24 season approaches, the Heat are expected to find more consistency. With a roster boasting seasoned players like point guards Kyle Lowry and Tyler Herro, shooting guard Duncan Robinson, power forward Kevin Love, center Bam Adebayo, and the guidance of head coach Erik Spoelstra, the team should easily attain the 50-win mark when they are at full strength. Winning the Southeast Division should be a straightforward task for Miami.
Additionally, the return of shooting guard Josh Richardson, hailing from Edmond, Oklahoma, adds an intriguing element. Richardson had previously played for Miami from 2015 to 2019 before being part of the blockbuster NBA deal that involved Heat star Jimmy Butler.
The upcoming season promises a considerable amount of novelty for the Phoenix Suns. It marks the first time since 2019 that Monty Williams won't be pacing the sideline, and it also sees Chris Paul donning a Warriors jersey after a memorable three-year stint in the Valley.
In addition to these changes, the Suns are introducing star guard Bradley Beal, former NBA champion coach Frank Vogel, and a host of veteran minimum players who aspire to make meaningful contributions to a team poised to contend at the highest level. The possibilities for Phoenix seem boundless, yet there are still unexpected achievements both the team and individual players can pursue this season.
Last season, the Suns' quest for the NBA championship was marred by injuries. This year, the team has pulled out all the stops to assemble a super team around Kevin Durant and Devin Booker, with the acquisition of Bradley Beal as a major move. However, a lingering question looms over this Suns super team—the injury-prone nature of some key players. Notably, the Suns have yet to secure a definitive starting point guard on their roster.
Nevertheless, if the players on the Phoenix Suns roster manage to stay fit, the team undeniably possesses the potential to vie for a spot in the playoffs.