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Dan Ippolito

As Casino City's associate editor, Dan produces and edits all of our weekly newsletters, and he writes about the gaming industry for our websites and the GPWA Times Magazine. Dan graduated from Marist College in 2017 with a degree in Communications and a concentration in Sports.

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Top 10 teams to win the 2023/2024 NBA title

9 Oct 2023

By Dan Ippolito
The NBA preseason is officially underway and over the last two weeks we have seen some blockbuster trades. The defending champions, the Denver Nuggets, bring nearly all of their core back in the hopes of going back-to-back. However, teams that are in “win now” mode have added to their rosters to dethrone the Nuggets.

Let’s take a look at 10 teams who have a shot at making a deep run come May and June.

All lines provided by bet365 Sportsbook & Racebook

10. Philadelphia 76ers
All basketball eyes in Philadelphia are focused on James Harden and if he will be with the team by the time the season starts. Harden did report to the team last week, but there is an awful lot of buzz around him being traded.

Joel Embiid is the leader of this team and that won’t change until the 76ers (+2200) decides to really blow it up and trade him for a plethora of young players and draft picks.

The most improved player in Philly is Tyrese Maxey, who has really come into his own and became a very difficult player to guard since the start of last season. With Maxey playing so well, it would make a lot of sense for the 76ers to trade Harden for pieces they can place around Embiid and Maxey.
Tobias Harris is capable of going for 20+ points each night and can take a lot of pressure off Embiid if he is on. Defensively, the 76ers went out and signed Pat Beverley, a veteran guard who is known for frustrating his opponents and being a big voice on the court.

As long as Embiid can stay healthy, this team should find itself in the playoffs.

9. Sacramento Kings
The Sacramento Kings were probably the surprise team of the NBA last year. Not just because they managed to get their way into the playoffs in a competitive Western conference, but the Kings took the Golden State Warriors to seven games in the opening round. Even though the Kings were the better seed, it was still Steph Curry on the other side.

Led by De’Aaron Fox, Sacramento (+4000) has a very balanced lineup. You have explosiveness from Fox and Malik Monk who comes off the bench and can score in bunches. Kevin Huerter is a great shooter, who provides spacing for playmakers. Harrison Barnes has played in big moments and is the experienced player to give the younger guys some guidance. Then at the center spot, Domantas Sabonis is a double-double machine, but also a very underrated passer and can get his guards some very easy looks.

The West is still pretty stacked, but Sacramento proved it can keep up with the rest of the conference last year and has some playoff experience to go along with that as well.

8. Los Angeles Clippers
When you think of the Clippers, Paul George and Kawhi Leonard come to mind right away. However, if some rumors are true, James Harden could be added soon as well. It seems the Los Angeles Clippers (+1600) are the favorites to land Harden in a trade with Philly. Would Russell Westbrook be involved in that trade? Probably, but who knows what the front office guys are cooking.

The key to the Clippers success has been, and will continue to be, health. Leonard has obviously struggled with the injury bug, while George has found himself on the injury report as well. If these two can stay on the floor, they are immediately in the title conversation.

Look at the supporting cast. The two centers, Ivica Zubac and Mason Plumlee, are not afraid to do the dirty work inside and they know their role.

Norman Powell and Terance Mann off the bench can provide scoring and are both solid defending guards. Powell is a dangerous player who can light it up at any moment and he is a career 38% three point shooter.

If the team does go for Harden, it will be interesting to see what L.A. has to give up, but pairing an offensive talent like Harden with George and Leonard becomes a scary thought for other teams.

7. Miami Heat
The Miami Heat (+2000) made it to the NBA Finals last year, but were simply outmatched by the Denver Nuggets who took home the trophy in just five games.

After nearly blowing a 3-0 series lead to the Boston Celtics, it seemed the Heat were just out of gas. There are a lot of similar faces returning to Miami, but Gabe Vincent and Max Strus both found contracts with other teams. Kyle Lowry will move into a starting role and newly-acquired Josh Richardson will fill the other spot.

It is no shock to anyone that Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo are the two key pieces to success in South Beach.

They won the Eastern conference title last year so you might be wondering why they are so low on the list. Well, the East is getting stronger, especially the top teams like Boston and Milwaukee.

That being said, Butler has always been up to the challenge no matter who his opponent is. Tyler Herro is going to have to continue his offensive output by putting up at least 20 a game if the Heat want to be serious contenders.

6. Golden State Warriors
The Golden State Warriors made a trade that many fans probably didn’t see coming. With Curry on your roster, you would think the Warriors would be looking to add a big or maybe another wing, but instead they brought in Chris Paul to help with the ball handling load and to direct traffic offensively.

With the offensive fire power of Curry and Klay Thompson, and the defensive ability of Draymond Green complimented by guys like Andrew Wiggins and Kevon Looney you already have a team built for success.

Now add in CP3 who is looking for his first title, but has plenty of playoff experience, the Warriors (+1200) are scary again in the West.

5. Los Angeles Lakers
It was nothing short of a busy offseason for the Los Angeles Lakers. Gabe Vincent, Christian Wood and Taurean Prince are all big gets for this Lakers roster.

All three can contribute as role players to help out the stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis. Depth was the big issue for the Lakers a season ago, but now with the addition of those players and Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves trending upward, L.A. can play a deep rotation.

This depth really gives the Lakers (+1200) a great shot at making the playoffs, and once James gets into the championship months, we all know he has the capability to go to a higher level and take games over.

4. Denver Nuggets
The defending champs. Led by Nikola Jokic, who could’ve easily been named MVP last year, which would’ve made it three straight years, is the centerpiece of this team and nobody will tell you differently.

Jokic can score at all three levels, clean up on the boards, and is one of, if not the best, passing centers I have ever seen.

Jamal Murray is no slouch either, and is finally looking like he is staying away from the injuries that cost him several season. The Nuggets (+450) have the benefit of Murray being able to take over games with his dribble moves to get open for open jumpers or with his strength at his size to power to the rim.

Michael Porter Jr. is a certified bucket. If you are looking for someone to create their own shot, or be a catch and shoot guy, look no further. He is not a pass fist player to say the least, but he can bail you out off a bad possession with a tough jumper late in the shot clock.

Aaron Gordon and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope round out the starting five and both are great defenders who like to get out and run in transition.

The Nuggets did lose a piece of their playoff success and that is Bruce Brown who signed with the Indiana Pacers in the offseason. Brown would come off the bench and take over the point guard role and let Murray play off the ball.

The depth of the Nuggets will be their challenge, but they still have one of the better starting fives in basketball.

3. Milwaukee Bucks
The entire offseason, it sounded like it was Miami or bust for Damian Lillard, but that all changed two weeks ago. Out of nowhere, the Bucks broke headlines when it was announced they traded for Lillard, pairing him with Giannis Antetokounmpo. This is now one of the best duos in basketball and let’s not forget, the Bucks have other players who you cannot overlook.

We already know what Lillard can do and the difficultly Antetokounmpo brings to defenses. Kris Middleton, when healthy, brings a dangerous third option who is great at getting defenders off balance so he can pull up from mid-range.

Then you have the big fellas. Brook Lopez, at 7-feet tall, shot 37% from three last year and allows his team to space the floor and create driving lanes for Giannis to either get to the basket or drive and kick. Bobby Portis adds another element as the backup center. Portis isn’t afraid to get physical inside and can score with his back to the basket and be tough on the boards.

The current favorites on bet365, the Bucks (+350) are going to be an offensive juggernaut this season.

2. Boston Celtics
Fans in Boston were taken aback over a month ago when Marcus Smart got traded late in the night in order for Boston to acquire Kristaps Porzingis, the 7-foot-3 forward who can shoot it from deep, but also get inside and score over defenders.

Just eight days ago, Boston (+400) made another massive move by giving up Robert Williams and Malcolm Brogdon to acquire Jrue Holiday from the Blazers. Holiday, part of the Lillard trade, is one of the best perimeter defenders in basketball and now teams up with Derrick White in the backcourt that will give opposition serious problems.

Holiday, White, Porzingis and Al Horford are great pieces to place around your two stars in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum. The Celtics are clearly in win now mode after these recent acquisitions and by the sounds of it, Brad Stevens and the owners might not be done building the roster, most likely adding a player to the frontcourt depth.

1. Phoenix Suns
With all the recent trades that have really switched up rosters across the league, let’s not forget that the Suns made one of the biggest moves of the offseason in late June when they traded for Bradley Beal.

Opponents already had Kevin Durant and Devin Booker to worry about, but now they added another guy who can score at will. That is a major problem for the rest of the league.

In a more recent trade involving Phoenix, the Suns (+600) traded DeAndre Ayton and ended up getting Jusuf Nurkic and Grayson Allen.

Nurkic is going to be a great fit for the Suns. He is a great rebounder and does a ton of the dirty work both offensively and defensively, while Allen will give some bench shooting and scoring.

At the end of the day, not many teams will be able to compete with the fire power of Beal, Durant and Booker. If they are all healthy, it is pretty unlikely that all three of these guys will have an off night at the same time.
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