Most power rankings had the Golden State Warriors at the top going into the 2022–23 NBA season. They are therefore the overwhelming favourites to win the NBA championship and win it again in 2023. Of course, winning games and trophies doesn’t happen on paper or in social media. The Dubs must complete the task on the court. Having said that, a few clubs are vying to unseat the Warriors as champions. Here, we’ll examine three ferociously competitive NBA teams with a chance to unseat the Spurs as champs in 2023.
The Warriors will attempt to repeat as NBA champions in 2022–23 after an outstanding playoff performance last season. However, they must first end the regular season well before trying to reach the NBA Finals in 2023. With a regular-season record of 53-29, the Warriors placed third in the Western Conference the previous year. They’ll aim to enhance that this year and clinch one of the top two seeds in the West.
The Golden State Warriors’ 2022 NBA championship rings
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Considering the calibre of several teams in their conference, that will undoubtedly be easier said than done. Additionally, there are a number of East teams that might spoil the Warriors’ chances of winning back-to-back championships if they are successful in returning to the NBA Finals.
Here are the three biggest challengers who can unseat the Warriors as NBA champions in 2023, looking ahead to their title defence.
Los Angeles Clippers
Outside of the Warriors, the Clippers will be the most hazardous team in the West. Remember that the Clippers had at least eight players who shot at least the league average (35.4 percent) or better from three-point range in the previous campaign. Despite having a three-year average of 38.1 percent from beyond the arc, star player Kawhi Leonard isn’t even included on that list. Unsurprisingly, LA didn’t hold back when it came to displaying their accuracy. In the preseason, they were successful on 39.9% of their three-point attempts.
Ivica Zubac allowed the Minnesota Timberwolves and Denver Nuggets to score more than 123 points per 100 possessions whenever he was on the court as a result of the Clippers losing two of their three games against NBA opponents. However, we shouldn’t analyse preseason games in great detail. Remember that this team was a top-10 defensive unit last season. Also note that Leonard continues to be among the best defenders from the previous 20 years. He should continue to make the Clippers an outstanding defensive team this year.
Los Angeles should be a strong contender for the NBA title if they can maintain good health, consistent shooting, and strong defence.
The Celtics have experienced their own internal strife, much like the Warriors. That is a result of former head coach Ime Udoka’s rather unsavoury tendencies. Despite this, the Celtics appeared to be in fine shape during the preseason as they sought to retain their Eastern Conference championship from the previous year.
In fact, they defeated the Charlotte Hornets by a score of 41 in their first preseason game. They were defeated by the Toronto Raptors in their final preseason game, of course. In an overtime victory over Boston, Toronto scored 137 points. The Boston Celtics defeated the Philadelphia 76ers 126–117 in their home debut to earn their first victory of the year.
In the victory, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were dominant. They each scored 35 points, and they made six triples together. 12 rebounds and 4 assists were also added by Tatum. These two players will be major obstacles for any foe, along with Marcus Smart, Malcolm Brogdon, and Al Horford. To the Warriors, who the Celtics lost to in the 2022 NBA Finals, belongs to this group. If Boston faces off against another Finals team this season, expect them to play with a chip on their shoulder.
Many believe that the Milwaukee Bucks would have won the title again if Khris Middleton hadn’t sustained an injury during the 2022 NBA Playoffs. Of course, that is debatable, but the fact remains that the entire Bucks team is exceedingly difficult to defeat.
However, there could be some red flags. Remember that throughout the entire preseason, the Hornets, Detroit Pistons, and Portland Trail Blazers were the other three teams without a win. The Bucks were the only club to go winless. Among 116 players with at least 35 field goal attempts during that time, star player Giannis Antetokounmpo had the second-worst effective field goal percentage (32.4%).
However, the regular season is different, and Giannis should continue to be a frontrunner for MVP. In all honesty, the Bucks are the only Eastern Conference club that shouldn’t be bothered by preseason statistics. Even so, Milwaukee’s predicted starting lineup saw little action in the preseason. Remember that they have a same winless preseason record in 2020. The Bucks won the championship seven months later.
We’re not predicting that will happen again, but we do think the Bucks pose the largest risk to the Warriors’ chances of repeating as champions. Giannis is unstoppable by anyone on earth, and a healthy Bucks team is incredibly balanced at every position. If there be a Bucks-Warriors Finals, the Dubs may have some problems.
The article Three ferocious NBA challengers who can unseat the Warriors as champions in 2023 first published on ClutchPoints.