Parker’s Sports Corner: Who will be the next NBA Champion?


With the start of the NBA playoffs about a month and a half away, it’s time to break up the contenders into tiers that make more sense of the league’s current outlook. 

Keep in mind these rankings are made with the hope that all of these teams are at full strength. A lot can change between now and the beginning of the playoffs, especially regarding injuries, but this is how I see things shaping out today.

Tier 1: Championship Favorites

  • Denver Nuggets
  • Los Angeles Clippers
  • Boston Celtics

The three teams in this tier are who I expect to win the championship come June. They are all led by superstar talents who’ve experienced playoff success before and are surrounded by a great cast of co-stars. I do have some questions about Jayson Tatum’s ability to be the best player on a championship team, but the Celtics have the best starting five in the NBA, so Tatum doesn’t always have to dominate.

However, these teams are all beatable and have a specific flaw. The Nuggets have a short bench and will likely need production out of young wing Peyton Watson or veteran guard Reggie Jackson to make it work. The Celtics are in a similar situation, with veteran Al Horford serving as the only competent bench piece. The Clippers lack a true big man, which might give them trouble going up against the likes of Nikola Jokic, Anthony Davis or Rudy Gobert in the Western Conference. 

Tier 2: Could win the Championship

  • Phoenix Suns
  • Los Angeles Lakers
  • Milwaukee Bucks
  • Miami Heat

These teams are those that I believe can win the championship but are just a step behind those in tier one. I don’t think you should be surprised if any of these four win the championship, but they could just as easily lose in the first two playoff rounds.

Based on regular season performance, the Lakers and Heat may seem like outliers here, with records of 31-28 and 31-25 respectively. 

What’s key to remember is that this ranking is based on their ability to win the championship. Based on just last year’s playoffs, both the Heat and Lakers showed their ability to go from the Play-in to the Conference Finals, or even the NBA Finals in the case of the Heat. Both teams have superstars that consistently rise to the occasion in the playoffs, Lebron James and Jimmy Butler, who could feast on higher-seeded, more inexperienced teams come playoff time. 

As for the Bucks and Suns, these teams are here based on sheer talent. The Bucks have the ultra-skilled duo of Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo, and the Suns have a big three in Kevin Durant, Devin Booker and Bradley Beal, who are all capable of producing 30 points a night. However, the Suns are a poor defensive unit with no above-average defenders on the roster outside of Booker and newcomer Royce O’Neal. The Bucks are an old team coached by Doc Rivers, an infamously underachieving head coach who constantly blows leads and has shown no ability to adjust throughout a playoff series.

Tier 3: Could win a Playoff Series, or Two

  • Minnesota Timberwolves
  • Oklahoma City Thunder
  • New Orleans Pelicans
  • Dallas Mavericks
  • Cleveland Cavaliers
  • New York Knicks
  • Philadelphia 76ers

This last tier of contenders gives us a conglomerate of remaining teams I could see winning a playoff series or two, but are extremely unlikely to bring home the Larry O’Brien Trophy. Here I feature teams like the Thunder and the Cavs who are likely too young to reach the championship, and scrappy, defensive-minded groups like the Timberwolves, Knicks and Pelicans who likely lack the go-to scoring to win a championship. The Mavericks and 76ers are here out of respect for the all-world ability of their superstar players, Luka Doncic and Joel Embiid. 

For these teams, if everything goes their way, they could maybe even make the NBA Finals. And for a lot of them, they could certainly beat a team or two on one of the top two tiers. Still, can they win four playoff series in a row to win a ring? At the moment, that seems unlikely for these teams, but you never know in the NBA Playoffs.

Comment policy

Comments posted to The Brown and White website are reviewed by a moderator before being approved. Incendiary speech or harassing language, including comments targeted at individuals, may be deemed unacceptable and not published. Spam and other soliciting will also be declined.

The Brown and White also reserves the right to not publish entirely anonymous comments.

Leave A Reply