The NBA has been the Golden State Warriors’ world, and the rest of the league was just living in it. With a roster of all-star talent — including probable Hall of Famers Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, and Kevin Durant — other teams would not be blamed for handing them the crown before the season without actually playing it.
Well, so far in 2018, other teams in the NBA have not rolled over, and the league is surprisingly tight at the top. That’s why they play, and that’s why we watch NBA games! Here are four teams, in no particular order, that could continue to give the Warriors a run for their money in 2019.
Los Angeles Lakers
There are two words to sum up why the Lakers are on this list: LeBron James. Yes, they went 35-47 last year, but with the addition of Rajon Rondo and JaVale McGee, along with “King James,” they’re a potential force to be reckoned with. Rondo came alive last season in New Orleans, and his presence should mean it doesn’t have to be the LeBron show all the time.
The Lakers have been winning consistently to stay in the top five in the Western Conference. They look like a lock for a playoff spot in 2019.
Boston had a solid season in 2017-2018, boasting a 55-27 record. They have a solid starting five and a deep bench, and a healthy Celtics team could make some noise this season.
The Celtics depth has paid off so far, because they’ve been living up to their moniker, the Hospital Celtics. Fortunately, Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward are both back and healthy, coming off injuries that hampered their run at the finals last spring. Combine their good health with Boston’s relentless defense, and you have a team with a bright future.
In fact, as we approach Christmas, they are one of the hottest teams in the East. Look for that depth to pay off into the new year.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder made some serious noise over the summer. They got rid of Carmelo Anthony and signed Paul George to four more years, setting them up to be a serious threat in the future.
The team is led by Russell Westbrook, whose season average was a triple-double last year. He was instrumental in getting Paul George to stay, as well as was Jerami Grant and Ray Felton.
Westbrook has not been as dominant this season, but that’s OK. He’s playing a little more conservatively, and the Thunder are playing outstanding defense. They are at the top of the West, and that defense could be the key to them going far in the playoffs.
The Raptors decided to make a serious run for the championship this season, even if it meant trading the face of the franchise DeMar DeRozan and firing head coach Dwane Casey. But what they got in return was huge: Kawhi Leonard, one of the top players in the league. The addition of Leonard alone makes this team a contender.
The Raptors started this season on fire, screaming out of the gate with a 12-1 start. They have cooled down since then but remain at the top of the East, and, some say, the only real threat to the Celtics heading into 2019.
So, will the Warriors continue their reign, or will one of these formidable teams steal the crown? Tune in all through 2019 and find out. Don’t miss a game with the Xfinity NBA league pass. You can stream the games and watch all your favorite teams take to the court, from anywhere, any time on any device.