2022 NBA season doesn’t have a clear favorite

The Golden State Warriors were the feel-good story of the NBA last season. After two years out of the playoffs, the Warriors got all of their top veteran players back from injury. With a key free agent signing of Andrew Wiggins also pitching in, the Warriors won their fourth championship since 2015.

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Chance of a repeat got off to a bizarre start. Golden State had an incident where veteran forward Draymond Green hit Jordan Poole with a hook better fit for the boxing ring or UFC octagon during practice. The Warriors, who are +650 to repeat at champions, looked vulenerable.

Which teams will be able to grab the crown after from Golden State? As always, that is yet to be determined. Here’s a look at a few teams that could challenge the Warriors.

Milwaukee Bucks, +600

The Bucks just ran out of gas last season. Milwaukee, which won the league two years ago, lost a brutal seven-game series against the Boston Celtics in the second round. When it came to roster construction, the Bucks didn’t make any major changes from last season.

Milwaukee resigned Javon Carter, Wesley Mathews and Bobby Portis. In free agency, the Bucks added former Utah jazz guard Joe Ingles. Last season, Ingles saw his 3-point percentage dip from a careeer high 45.1 per to 34.7 percent. While Ingles has been a consistent shooter throughout his career, he may take some time to recapture the magic in Milwaukee.

With stars Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton in tow, Milwaukee should once again be competitive in the Eastern Conference and be primed for a run at the title.

Boston Celtics, +600

The Celtics saw Jayson Tatum blossom into a superstar last season. With Jaylen Brown also being a capable scorer, Boston has a capable one-two scoring punch on offense. In the offense, the Celtics also went out and got Malcolm Brogdon from the Indianapolis Pacers.

Brogdon didn’t come cheap, as Indiana dealt five players, plus a 2023 protected first-round pick to bring in Brogdon. Brogdon has averaged 15.5 points per game over the course of his career and can also shoot 3-pointers, averaging 37.6 percent from behind the arc.

Boston did deal with some turmoil in the offseason, as coach Ime Udoka was suspended with improper off the court behavior. Joe Mazzulla will be counted on to fill in at coach.

Los Angeles Clippers, +700 and Brooklyn Nets, +800

Bet on the Clippers and Nets at your own peril. While there is always a chance they make moves in-season to spruce up the roster, both teams rely on veteran players who are injury-prone staying healthy. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George give the Clippers a formidable one-two punch, but Los Angeles didn’t get much out of the duo last season.

Leonard didn’t play at all, while George only played in a handful of games due to a hand injury. The Nets were a circus last year. Kevin Durant missed a significant amount of time due to injury, while Kyrie Irving couldn’t get onto the court due to his battle with rules surrounding the COVID-19 vaccine.

When it comes to the roster, Brooklyn also has some mystery. The Nets dealt for Ben Simmons last season, but he has yet to play for the team due to injuries. Simmons is a good point guard, but can’t shoot free throws or 3-pointers.

Philadelphia 76ers, +1400

The 76ers can never seem to find that last piece that will make them champions. Ever since Philadelphia decided to tank and go through “The Process” about 10 years ago, the 76ers seemed determined to build from the ground up.  Philadelphia center Joel Embiid had a strong season last year and the 76ers are trying to find a way to incorporate James Harden into the offense.

The 76ers will have a difficult path to the finals with Boston and even the Miami Heat to worry about, but if they can fit all of their superstars together there is no reason they can’t have a strong season moving forward.