The NBA season is coming to a close and teams are beginning to prepare for either the playoffs or draft. Many teams have flown under the radar and established themselves as serious title contenders without the national spotlight being on them.
Let’s take a look at three underrated picks to win the title.
For starters, Nikola Jokic is the presumptive MVP. He has been the frontrunner for weeks and it is clear that he is going to win the award. He is nearly averaging a triple-double with 26.4 points, 10.9 rebounds, and 8.4 assists. If the Nuggets succeed in the playoffs, Jokic must compete at a high level as he has done all year.
The second factor is the Nuggets’ depth. Alongside Jokic, Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon have played at a high level. Porter has taken major leaps and is playing an expanded role this season compared to the last. Gordon has filled the power forward position that the Nuggets have not had talent in for years and made the team more versatile with his exciting style of play.
These two reasons have given the Nuggets the ability to win without Murray and will give them a shot at winning the title this season.
The next team on this list is the Bucks. They are a team that has not been given high praise from many people due to their lack of success in the postseason in recent years. However, they should be given more attention as this Bucks team is more talented than others in the past.
The Bucks’ roster is built primarily for defense. Most of their players are elite defenders. Jrue Holiday has the capability to play high-level defense against any of the guard positions, making the Bucks a nightmare for the Hawks and others whose offenses are primarily created by guards. At forward, Giannis Antetokumpo is able to play defense against all five positions on the floor and is a challenge for any star to score against him. The Bucks also have other good defenders like P.J. Tucker scattered throughout their roster, making them a pesky opponent for any team.
In the East, the Nets are considered unstoppable by many, but the Bucks can beat them. Since the Nets rely on a high-powered offensive to win games, the Bucks’ elite defense will counteract that and make it challenging for them to win without playing good defense. Forcing the Nets to do so has allowed the Bucks to lead the season series, 2-1.
The Bucks’ tough-minded mentality will make them a tall task to beat and create a lot of problems for opposing teams, which could lead them to a championship this season.
The Wizards will have to get past the play-in games to make the playoffs, but once they are in, they could cause trouble. After a slow start to the year, Washington has exploded recently, positioning themselves with an opportunity to play in the playoffs. They could make a deep run and potentially win the championship if a few things go right for them.
The first reason the Wizards can win it all is that they have one of the best frontcourts in the NBA. Bradley Beal is playing at a First-Team All-NBA level. He is averaging over 30 points per game and is one of the biggest reasons the Wizards have been successful. Beal’s partner in crime is Russell Westbrook, who will likely finish on an All-NBA team due to his recent success. Westbrook is averaging a triple-double with 23.2 points, 11.4 assists, and 11.4 rebounds per game. If both guards play well throughout the playoffs, they could pull off multiple upsets and potentially win a ring.
One thing that will need to improve before the playoffs is the team’s ability to close games. The Wizards rank 16th in the NBA in clutch win percentage and have failed on multiple occasions to put games to rest before clutch time. If the Wizards improve their play during the clutch, they could beat any of the top teams on their way to an NBA championship.
The Wizards can beat any team due to the talent they have in their frontcourt. Now, if they can improve in the clutch, they could win the NBA Finals this year.
Follow Kamran Nia on Twitter @kamran_nia
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