It’s time for an early season heat check on contenders and suitors in the NBA.
Teams like the Milwaukee Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns are expected to be close to the mark by the end of the season, but who is in the chasing group.
Kane Pitman and Benyam Kidane met to discuss some of the other teams in the 2021-22 NBA championship race.
Kane Pitman (@KanePitman): The Jazz are contenders for mine. Like the Milwaukee Bucks, I think Utah will have learned some tough lessons from past playoff failures that can help them move forward. The Jazz should once again be a regular-season force with their night defense again ready to be near the top of the tree.
Donovan Mitchell has been limping in the postseason and is still maturing into the star player most believe he can become, while Mike Conley Jr. battled injury throughout the season. It takes a lot of luck to win an NBA championship, and if the Jazz are healthy in the playoffs, I see no reason to believe that they won’t be an incredibly difficult team to face during a seven-game series.
Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane): I have the Jazz as a contender this season, but they still have a lot to prove after the first few outings of the playoffs in recent years.
In today’s NBA, continuity is hard to come by and last season the Bucks showed just how valuable that is with their core group elevating them to the NBA title. This Jazz team is a deep team with multiple offensive weapons and as Donovan Mitchell continues to become a superstar, they will be at the highest level of teams in the West.
Kane Pitman: I need more time before I can put the Bulls in the contending group in the East. As I write this, Chicago is currently 4-0. It’s the first time they’ve been 4-0 since the ’90s and I heard it was quite a successful period for the franchise.
My biggest reason for pausing is that they just haven’t played a standout team. The four wins include two wins over the Detroit Pistons, who are probably the worst team in the Eastern Conference, the New Orleans Pelicans without Zion, and the Toronto Raptors, who appear to be a Play-In team at best.
The Bulls are talented enough and I think they’ll be able to handle the playoff fringe teams in any conference, it remains to be seen how they fare against top-tier competition. The Bulls have the Knicks and Jazz next. Sounds like a couple of fun matchups.
Benyam Kidane: It’s only been four games, but I’m convinced the new-looking Chicago Bulls are a contender in the East.
Their defensive upgrade with Alex Caruso and Lonzo Ball has been felt right away, but the fact that the offense is no longer reliant on Zach LaVine to lead it makes them incredibly dangerous.
DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic as supplemental scorers means any night can be someone different turning hot, and as the season progresses, their chemistry is only going to grow.
Kane Pitman: I have the Miami Heat in the group right behind the Bucks and Nets. My big concern is the health given the age and miles of some of its stars. Another concern will be depth if one or two of your best players miss some time.
Tyler Herro looks like a true contender for Sixth Man of the Year and Marcus Morris is a solid guy in the bank’s rotation, but there are question marks after that. Assuming full health, the Heat are a contender. Let’s see how they navigate the regular season to stay in the best shape possible.
Benyam Kidane: In our season preview, I made the bold prediction that the Heat would end up with the No. 1 seed in the East and so far they look like one of the best teams in the league, with wins over the Boston Celtics and the Milwaukee Bucks. .
If Tyler Herro continues to play as the best bench player in the league, averaging around the 20-point mark, the offensive potential of this team built around Jimmy Butler, Kyle Lowry and Bam Adebayo will be a problem for opponents, especially if the Heat can. keep your the best defense in the league.
Kane Pitman: I am buying the Hawks. In fact, if I had to bet on an Atlanta and Miami team, I would feel pretty confident about the Hawks.
The early chemistry struggles of last season show up well in Atlanta’s rearview mirror, and John Collins in particular seems poised to take the next step as a two-way force. De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish and Bogdan Bogdanovic battled injuries last season, but with everyone in the lineup, this is arguably the deepest team in the league.
And of course we don’t have to worry about Trae Young’s ability to deliver on the big stage.
Benyam Kidane: I’m a huge Trae Young fan, but I don’t think the Hawks are a contender … so they’re a suitor for now.
Given the talent at the top of the Eastern Conference, let alone in their own division, the Hawks are probably still in that second tier of teams behind the Bucks, Nets and Heat.
In the Southeast Division, are you closer to the Charlotte Hornets than the Miami Heat? It’s only been a week, but it will take a great race to match his performance from last season.
Kane Pitman: I’m in dallas.
To be fair, I came out in Dallas shortly after Jason Kidd was announced as head coach, but something seems to be wrong with this list. Kristaps Porzingis’ development stagnation feels like a hammer blow for this team. Such a tall man is not destined to endure lower body problems and Porzingis is a shadow of the player who seemed set to break the league when he was in New York.
Doncic is a wizard, so theoretically they could win on any night, but when it’s playoff time comes, you need more than one player and I’m not sure they have it.
Benyam Kidane: Could the Mavericks be worse than last season?
The new middle-rage-focused offense appears to be out of step with Luka Doncic’s strengths as a scorer and playmaker and will take time with new head coach Jason Kidd to find his identity this season.
Unless Kristaps Porzingis rediscovers his All-Star form on both ends of the floor, the Mavericks won’t be in the top four in the Western Conference any time soon.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.