The Timberwolves have had an extremely successful offseason, making huge roster improvements after recognizing that they need more star power to halt the Warriors. The most notable acquisition was the deal which involved bringing All-Star small forward Jimmy Butler to town. They have also managed to keep Karl-Anthony Towns, who has another season under his belt and could make the 2017/2018 campaign the one where he leads his team deep into the playoffs.
It is also key to mention that while Towns has established himself as arguably the best center in the NBA at only 21 years of age, he has had great personal success against the Warriors in the past. He provides many problems for Golden State as they are not used to playing teams with big men who have the ability that Towns does (with the exception of the Pelicans). Towns can stretch the game to great effect whilst also remaining on the floor when the Wolves want to go for a smaller lineup, which could cause problems for Golden State. This, combined with the signing of an All-Star (Butler) and a more experienced Andrew Wiggins, who is fast developing into a superstar, can elevate the Timberwolves to superteam status.
If the Rockets are making their shots and James Harden is in the kind of form which saw him collect 51 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists in one game last season, then they could definitely have a good chance of beating the Warriors. Throw in high-profile signing Chris Paul into the mix, and the Rockets look capable – on paper – of giving the Western Conference a shake-up. Signing Paul, a 32-year-old veteran, means that Houston are going all out this coming season and can be the team that brings the Warriors’ dynasty to a halt.
The combination of Paul and Harden will be very interesting to watch, as both players are ball dominant and want to be making plays throughout the game at their own tempo. The Rockets were not really in desperate need of another star guard, but the Warriors’ dominance continues to persuade rivals into building their teams around as much superstar power as possible.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder are eager to burst out of the blocks and show the league that they can bring the Warriors down in the West. That’s an attitude epitomized by their main star and reigning MVP Russell Westbrook. There is no player in this league who has the same drive and ambition to take down the Warriors as Westbrook does. Now, the MVP has fellow superstar Paul George to try and help him achieve that goal.
George’s signing from the Indiana Pacers proves that the Thunder means business this season. They always needed another superstar following Kevin Durant’s departure. Westbrook, as great as he is, cannot take you to the Western Conference Finals on his own. The high-profile acquisition of George is perfect for the Thunder and also for Westbrook, as George would have known before joining OKC that he would definitely not be the main man, but rather the second superstar. Their powerful and explosive combination will be very difficult for any team to deal with.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs have without a doubt been the most consistent team in basketball for many years under the tutelage of Gregg Popovich. This season shapes as being no different as they will almost certainly find themselves going deep into the playoffs again. But that can only happen if superstar Kawhi Leonard can replicate the MVP caliber form he displayed last season, and if their big men get going and actually perform towards the back end of the season.
A big season awaits LaMarcus Aldridge, who in limited spells caused the Warriors a lot of trouble during the last campaign. And then there is the mastery of legendary coach Popovich, who always finds a way to take his side to the next level, irrespective of what other teams are doing at the trade table. Throw in rumors of a potential swoop for Kyrie Irving and the Spurs will have plenty of tools at their disposal to launch a serious challenge.
Sure, it’s been a rough offseason, but any team with LeBron James at its disposal always has a chance to be the best. James may be entering his 15th NBA season but he is still the main man who is able to cause the most trouble for Golden State. People are forgetting that just a little over 12 months ago the Cavs were celebrating an NBA Championship triumph, and also looked in ominous form at different stages of the most recent postseason.
If the Cavs are to continue to be regarded as a superteam, a lot will come down to the future of Irving. If Kyrie goes then it is no secret that their chances of winning would have decreased significantly, even though they would still have Kevin Love and new acquisition Derrick Rose to feature alongside LeBron. However, the mental game is such an important factor and the historic comeback during the 2016 Finals might still creep back into the Warriors’ minds if the game is on the line. This makes the Cavs a worthy superteam who are still the favorites to bring down the Warriors this coming season.
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