The Title Contenders Tier of the 2020-2021 NBA Seasonby John Devereaux December 8, 2020 4 comments
The NBA season is fast approaching. Most teams have done their duty to build the best roster for the upcoming season. Free agency and the draft have come and gone, and there has been a major shake-up to the landscape of the NBA.
There are five tiers this NBA season which a team can fall under. The first tier is called Title Contenders. This tier is filled with the teams that will make the playoffs, and finish at the top of their conference. These teams are capable of not only making their conference finals but making the NBA Finals.
There are four teams in this tier. The Boston Celtics, Denver Nuggets, Los Angeles Lakers, and the Milwaukee Bucks. Each team has a superstar on their roster. Each one of those superstars is capable of winning an MVP. These teams also have a bench that can come into a game and not lose a step to which the starters have created. Teams in this tier have high-end coaches, that are surrounded by the personnel that suits their style of play. In this tier, teams will also have a functional front office. Members of the front office that can and will fix the team appropriately throughout the season.
Starting with the Boston Celtics, the team is in pursuit of banner eighteen. Behind a potential MVP candidate of Jayson Tatum, Boston could in fact have one of the best rosters in the league. Tatum last season until an abrupt halt of the NBA season was considered as an MVP. His play led a struggling yet talented Celtics team to the Eastern Conference finals. Not far behind Tatum is Jaylen Brown, who could take another step this season. Brown is the perfect catalyst to an MVP. A Scottie Pippen to a Michael Jordan, Brown can be a leader and take over games just like Tatum. The Celtics also have an all-star point guard in Kemba Walker.
Their bench is underrated as well. Although the bench is filled with younger guys, they are all very talented. Both Grant Williams and Robert Williams are starting-caliber players on average teams. Tristan Thompson is a former champion in Cleveland and is still a reliable center. The team also has shooters in Aaron Nesmith and Carson Edwards.
The team has one of the best coaches in the league in Brad Stevens. Stevens is a defensive-minded coach that projects defense over everything. His tactical playcalling in the halfcourt is the best, bar none. Stevens has brought this team to the eastern conference finals twice with players younger than 23 leading the way. He also led the Cinderella story 2017 Celtics to the Eastern Conference finals with Isaiah Thomas.
Danny Ainge has done a fantastic job as the catalyst for building this roster. He managed to get the league’s largest trade exception for a player who wanted out of Boston. He can use that trade exception to trade for another star that wants to win now. Although that move has yet to be made, it is valuable to a contending team. Ainge also brought in two reliable veterans for the bench in Thompson and Jeff Teague. Veteran leadership on the bench is what the Celtics missed last season. Thompson and Teague have been starters for other former contenders throughout their careers.
Denver has Nikola Jokic who is a unicorn at the center position. A center that can play point guard in the half-court is a rarity. Jokic can average a triple-double throughout the season, which is what Russell Westbrook had done during his MVP reign. Alongside Jokic is Jamal Murray, who took a large step forward during last year’s playoffs. Both players are surrounded by shooters, making the team very deadly from three. Denver is a very underrated defensive team. Although the team does not hold the best defensive stats with steals and blocks. They can limit other teams under the league average points per game.
The bench is filled with future all-stars. Michael Porter Jr and Bol Bol alone could be the future of the NBA. Both players have incredible potential and in the small number of minutes played they have shown themselves. Coached by Mike Malone who since joining the team in 2015 has brought nothing but improvement to the organization. Malone is surrounded by unicorn types of players. Dealing with Jokic, Bol, and Porter Jr. Malone has brought nothing but the best out of these players. He is a players coach, who just not only finds the best in players but is a tactician offensively.
Although the Nuggets have made some recent changes in their front office, both Calvin Booth and Tim Connelly have done a great job building this team. They brought back a defensive cornerstone to the roster in Paul Millsap, while also trading for another promising rookie in R.J. Hampton. The team is built to win now as they have the young talent to form a dynasty for the coming seasons.
Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles is the reigning champion. They extended their best player in LeBron James for another two years. The team also re-signed Anthony Davis on a super-max contract of five years. Rob Pelinka had done a fantastic job of retaining his MVP caliber stars. Re-signing a potential MVP and extending one of the best players to play the game deserves the utmost praise. Pelinka also turned very little cap space into a better roster than last year’s championship run.
Although the team lost Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo, the team added a former defensive player of the year Marc Gasol. Pelinka also wanted more shooting off the bench, as they signed sharpshooter Wesley Matthews. Pelinka also brought in last year’s sixth man of the year winner Montrezl Harrell along with Dennis Schroder who almost won the award last season.
Los Angeles has a plethora of good coaches. Vogel coached the team to a championship last season. Although he is not one of the premier coaches in the league he is capable of coaching a championship contender. Los Angeles also has Jason Kidd and Lionel Hollins as assistant coaches. A duo of former coaches that are capable of coaching an NBA team.
Milwaukee holds the two-time reigning MVP in Giannis Antetokounmpo. The team’s front office is now in winning mode as they are making the most moves in the recent history of the franchise. Led by Jon Horst, the Bucks have created a contending team to support their MVP. They acquired a fringe all-star guard in Jrue Holiday to help support both Giannis and Khris Middleton. The team also revamped the bench to give the starting lineup some rest. They added D.J. Augustin and Bryn Forbes as scoring options off the bench. The team also added a 3-D wing in Torrey Craig who can come off the bench.
The Bucks have a former coach of the year winner in Mike Budenholzer. Budenholzer is a defensive-minded coach that loves to have a five-out offense. The team has defense written throughout the lineup. Last year’s defensive player of the year award winner in Giannis now has a defensive-minded point guard in Holiday. Middleton is also a very talented defender. The Bucks were one of the best defensive teams, and now have better offensive options off the bench.
Follow John Devereaux on Twitter @NBADevereaux
Main Credit Image: Embed from Getty Images