No free agent has signed yet. No player trade is official yet. But I can pretty simply conclude that a little over 1/3 of the league believes it will compete to win a championship next basketball season. It’s getting crowded at the top.
July 10 things will start becoming official. More players will sign after then, but barring a mega-trade, 19 teams can be ruled out as championship-caliber in 2013-14. 5 will make the playoffs, and perhaps another 5 will challenge to make the playoffs,with the other 9 fighting it out for placement in the lottery. That leaves us with 11 trying to win a title.
In the East, there are 5 teams. Miami, Brooklyn, Indiana, New York, and Chicago. The Heat will almost assuredly finish as a top 3-seed, with the other four duking it out for home-court advantage. On paper, they all have strong arguments.
In the West, there are 6 teams. San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Memphis, Golden State, Houston, and the Los Angeles Clippers. On paper, they all look like 55+ win teams, so it could come down to injuries/luck to determine their order of finish. The latter three all made big, bold moves to increase their chances to pass the former three.
The NBA gets criticized for being a have/have-not kind of league, but I’d argue that having 11 very good and capable teams who are all pretty even will lead to more excitement. Last season I felt there were 3 teams good enough to win it all. The Heat, Thunder, and Spurs. I just wanted to get the Finals. Now I feel like that top shelf has gotten more crowded. I can’t wait for the playoffs. Sure, all these teams have flaws, but that is why there isn’t an elite team(s) head-and-shoulders above the others.
The regular season will have plenty of stories, but arguing about the rank of those 11 teams should be plenty of fun.
1/3 of the league may stink, and if you choose to focus on that, you’re missing out on what could be one of the most riveting NBA seasons yet.