Who are the potential superteams of the NBA?

I’ll be honest- the most recent NBA season didn’t capture my attention. But in the weeks following the Golden State Warriors’ convincing NBA Finals victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, the drama that is the National Basketball Association has been must-watch TV. Stars have been traded, the draft had as much talent as it has had in the last decade and the game’s best player, LeBron James, has been in the news for reported interest of moving to Los Angeles. The NBA landscape is shifting quickly and the contenders of tomorrow and the upcoming decade are emerging.

Right now, the Warriors and Cavaliers are head and shoulders above every team in the NBA. But with the Warriors’ stars nearing free agency and LeBron’s departure becoming a more realistic possibility every day, their days atop the NBA seem numbered. These are the teams with the potential to rule the NBA in coming years.

 

Western Conference

Golden State Warriors- Next year, the Warriors will be the overwhelming favorite to win the NBA title and will, in all likelihood, win their third title in four seasons. But after that, the future is unclear, as there won’t be enough money to re-sign all of their young superstars. Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green, the centerpieces of the lineup, will not all be in Oakland in a couple years and the role players will certainly test the waters of free agency. As long as they have Durant or Curry, the Warriors will be tough but vulnerable.

Minimum Time Until Contention: 2017-18

 

San Antonio Spurs– The Spurs are the team that can become a contender to the Warriors the soonest. With Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs have their franchise superstar, and in coach Gregg Popovich, San Antonio has the game’s best leader. If the Spurs can land point guard Chris Paul as a free agent, they will be dangerous to Golden State’s reign next year and for years to come.

Minimum Time Until Title Contention: 2017-18

 

Minnesota Timberwolves– The T-Wolves showed that they are ready to make the playoff jump when they acquired high-scoring guard Jimmy Butler from the Chicago Bulls. Butler will team up with two young talents in big man Karl-Anthony Towns and former top pick Andrew Wiggins to create a Big Three that has the potential to be devastating in the future. Minnesota also has a proven head coach in Tom Thibodeau. Every piece is in place, so in time the Timberwolves should be vicious.

Minimum Time Until Title Contention: 2019-20

 

Los Angeles Lakers– Right now, the Lakers are one of the worst teams in the NBA, but by hiring legend Magic Johnson to run the front office, Los Angeles could turn into a contender real soon. The team is stacked with top draft picks including no. 2 overall pick Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Julius Randle, but the main source of optimism is the team’s chances of attaining Paul George from the Indiana Pacers this year in a trade or next year in free agency. But the biggest domino would be LeBron James, who is rumored to be interested in finishing his career in LA. Add in the upcoming free agency of Anthony Davis and the Lakers could be a superteam like we’ve never seen before.

Minimum Time Until Title Contention: 2019-20

 

Los Angeles Clippers– The Clippers have boasted a collection of All Star stud players for the past couple years (Chris Paul, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan) and one of the league’s elite coaches (Doc Rivers), but the team’s core has yet to advance to even the Western Conference Finals. Talk of disbanding the Clippers has become rampant, but since the LeBron rumors have included talks of both Los Angeles teams, the Clippers could be the free agent destination he chooses in a couple years and his addition would vault the Clips into title contention. If that sounds far fetched, consider that legendary player and executive Jerry West is now a consultant and has a history of turning teams into title contenders (including the Warriors).

Minimum Time Until Title Contention: 2018-19

 

Houston Rockets- Will the Rockets win big with their current roster? No. But they’ve been a huge player in free agency the past couple seasons and could attract a superstar in free agency… LeBron? In theory, the pairing of King James and current Rocket James Harden could be incredible and Houston is already a contender in the Western Conference. Or if Kevin Durant decides to leave, the Rockets could chase the reigning Finals MVP.

Minimum Time Until Title Contention: 2018-19

 

Eastern Conference

Cleveland Cavaliers– As long as they have LeBron James, the Cavaliers will be the kings of the Eastern Conference. If he moves away from his hometown for the second time, the Cavs could be looking at another painful rebuild. Unless they can acquire Paul George from division rival Indiana, Cleveland won’t be able to improve its roster while staying under the salary cap, which the Cavs need to do to close the gap between them and Golden State. Meanwhile, the Eastern Conference could improve with the rising Celtics. Cleveland looks strong now, but the foundation could crumble.

Minimum Time Until Title Contention: 2017-18

 

Boston Celtics– The Celtics led the conference in wins last season before losing its best player, Isaiah Thomas, in the conference finals and ultimately losing to the Cavaliers. But Boston should come back even better this season, especially if they can add forward Gordon Hayward in free agency to a roster that already selected Jayson Tatum third overall in the draft. The Celtics have the coaching and young talent to contend, but still need a superstar or two to become a true threat to the Warriors and the heir to the NBA throne.

Minimum Time Until Title Contention: 2017-18

 

Philadelphia 76ers– Like the Timberwolves, the 76ers have pieces in place to be a strong team in the future. It will take longer, but the trio of Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid, all top-three picks from recent drafts, screams potential. Adding another superstar to the mix could make the team even more dangerous, though the team won’t contend for a crown until the 2020s arrive.

Minimum Time Until Title Contention: 2020-21

 

Charlotte Hornets- Don’t sleep on Charlotte. The Hornets don’t have a superstar and barely pass as a contender in the Eastern Conference. They don’t have an abundance of young talent, either. What they do have is Michael Jordan as their owner, which makes a run at in-state product Stephen Curry an intriguing proposition. If the Hornets added Curry, still an unlikely scenario, as well as another superstar or two, they would be a contender in the Eastern Conference.

Minimum Time Until Title Contention: 2020-21

 

Milwaukee Bucks– The Bucks are the dark horse team of the Eastern Conference. They’re a top-four team in the Eastern Conference now and have a potential MVP player in Giannis Antetokounmpo, as well as dynamic coach Jason Kidd. Adding a superstar to their explosive but inexperienced nucleus could spark a true title team.

Minimum Time Until Title Contention: 2019-20

 

 

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