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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 2024-2025 NBA championship

24 Jun 2024

By Dan Ippolito
On Wednesday, the NBA draft will begin and for the first time, the draft will be held over two days. Wednesday night will be the first round and the second round will take place Thursday afternoon. The Atlanta Hawks hold the first pick and many believe it will be one of two players from France, either Alex Sarr or Zaccharie Risacher. Just a couple of days later, free agency will begin for the NBA and the chaos will truly get underway. With teams ready to build a title roster, let’s take a look at 10 teams we think can make a push for the 2024-2025 Larry O’Brien trophy.

All odds provided by bet365 Sportsbook & Racebook

10. Golden State Warriors (+3300)
When you think of the Golden State Warriors, the first thoughts generally are Steph Curry and winning. Well, last year was out of the ordinary for the sharp-shooter’s career as his team failed to get through the play-in round and missed the playoffs.

Many rumors are flying around that the duo of Curry and Klay Thompson have seen its final days. It seems the front office could be working hard to add another all-star caliber player to join Curry, Draymond Green, and Jonathan Kuminga who saw his game evolve over the season.

While the Western Conference is already loaded, giving the best shooter in NBA history another star can do wonders for the fans in San Fransisco.

9. Oklahoma City Thunder (+1000)
The top seed in the West last season, the Oklahoma City Thunder had an impressive regular season record of 57-25. However, after sweeping the New Orleans Pelicans in the opening round of the playoffs, the Thunder were simply overpowered and outmatched by the Dallas Mavericks who took the series in six games.

OKC is an extremely young team led by Chet Holmgren, Jalen Williams and MVP-finalist Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Luguentz Dort is a defensive specialist who is nearly always defending the opposition’s best player but all of the weight won’t fall on him as the team traded with the Chicago Bulls for Alex Caruso last week.

With playoff experience now under their belt, this team becomes more of a problem for the rest of the NBA than it was a year ago. Regular season titles are not what this young core is hungry for anymore, they have tasted a playoff series victory and then had their season torn apart in the next round. Expect a fire behind this team when they make next year’s playoffs.

8. Philadelphia 76ers (+1200)
The biggest question mark every season with the Philadelphia 76ers is will Jole Embiid be able to stay healthy. While Tyrese Maxey is becoming a star, he needs Embiid to dominate in the paint and be able to pick up the slack when Maxey’s shot isn’t falling.

If Philly is going to finally get Embiid by the second-round threshold for the first time, they will need more consistent play from Tobias Harris and Kelly Oubre. The two wings are both capable of having 20-point games, but they have also shown they can easily shoot 2-9 and end up with five points.

If those two can get to a double-digit scoring level each night, and Embiid survives a long 82-game season, Philly has pieces to build around and make a run.

7. Dallas Mavericks (+900)
The Dallas Mavericks reached the NBA Finals but couldn’t handle the firepower of the Boston Celtics and saw their title hopes whisk away in just five games.

It is no question the Kyrie Irving and Luka Doncic carried this team through the playoffs but Irving struggled in the finals. The real issue is with the role players.

P.J. Washington is only 25 years old so he will hopefully continue to improve despite seeing times of rough shooting streaks. Josh Green, a guard who comes off the bench, is also just 23 years old and I wouldn’t be surprised to see his minutes increase in the regular season.

Derrick Lively, just 20 years old, is a big factor for this Mavericks team next year. He showed a lot of signs of being a great lop threat and shot blocker.

Dallas will need to add another wing in free agency or through trade, like a DeMar DeRozan to really pish their roster into the next level.

6. Cleveland Cavaliers (+2500)
Just this morning, the Cleveland Cavaliers announced Kenny Atkinson will be the team’s next head coach. Atkinson comes from the bench of Golden State where he was an assistant coach.

As for last season, the Cavs, like a few other teams, were bitten by the injury bug. Losing Donovan Mitchell and Jarrett Allen especially led to the team’s second-round exit in five games to the Boston Celtics.

With those two coming back healthy, accompanied by Evan Mobley, a developing big man who is learning to score in many different ways around the rim, the Cavs have a core to work with even if they trade Darius Garland for more pieces.

An important need for this team is looking to gain a backup big. When Allen and Mobley come out of the game, the next man off the bench needs to be a better option than Tristan Thompson who is well passed his better production days.

5. New York Knicks (+1200)
The New York Knicks had a very good regular season with a 50-32 record, enough to secure the No. 2 seed in the East. While the team had a second-round exit in seven games to the Indiana Pacers, the fans in New York do have a lot to look forward to.

The Villanova trio of Jalen Brunson, Josh Hart and Donte DiVincenzo were the ones leading the squad. OG Anunoby was also a big part of the team but it is rumored that he may be testing free agency. But don’t panic New Yorkers, because Julius Randle was unable to contribute in the playoffs due to injury but will be back in the lineup to help his teammates.

The Knicks play fast and physical which really gave many teams some issues when they tried setting up their offensive sets.

Toward the end of the year and in the playoffs, Brunson played at an MVP level and if he can continue to build on his game, he will quickly become one of the best guards in the East.

4. Milwaukee Bucks (+1000)
Even though Giannis Antetokounmpo got hurt and missed a majority of the opening round of the playoffs, the Milwaukee Bucks have to be one of the more disappointing teams from last year.
The likes of Damien Lillard, Kris Middleton, Bobby Portis and Brook Lopez should have still been enough to beat the No. 6 seed Pacers, but failed to do so.

Even though Kris Middleton is getting older, his game still has the promise and skills to go out there and give you 20-25 points. Pair that with the combo of Lillard and Giannis, this team is an automatic threat to make a title push.

The more I watch Bobby Portis, the more I realize he is just getting better in his role with the team. Coming off the bench the majority of the regular season, Portis gives the bench a boost with his ability to score at all three level. He is also able to guard many positions and be a presence around the rim.

3. Denver Nuggets (+800)
Nikola Jokic, the catalyst for Denver’s success, captured his third MVP award in four years. Getting knocked out in the second round by the Timberwolves, the Nuggets look to bring back the majority of their team from last year.

I truly believe that if Denver won that game seven against Minnesota that they would’ve taken down Dallas and been a better matchup against Boston in the finals.

Along with Jokic, Jamal Murray, Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon are all under contract for next year and both Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Reggie Jackson have player options to act on.

With four out of five of one of the best starting lineups in basketball returning, they are already a roster with title hopes and an attractive destination for free agents that want to win.

2. Minnesota Timberwolves (+800)
Watching the Minnesota Timberwolves can sometimes be a rollercoaster. In some games, they seem they are maybe a play-in team at best, and other times they look like they are head and shoulders above the other teams in the league.

After a disappointing Western Conference Finals against the Mavericks, the Timberwolves will definitely be coming back with a chip on their shoulder.

The offense starts with Mike Conley and his ability to facilitate and take care of the basketball. Then you have the electric play of Anthony Edwards who can shoot it, but also if you let him take flight, get out of the way because he will put you on a poster.

Then you have the two bigs in Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert. Towns has expanded his game a bit by adding the three-pointer to his arsenal, forcing defenders to extend out to him, which allows him to put the ball on the floor more when they closeout too hard and he can get to the basket.

Gobert, while being a lop threat, is the defensive nucleus for Minnesota. Gobert was named Defensive Player of the Year in 2023-2024, his fourth time winning the award.

Don’t be surprised to see Edwards continue to improve his game and, complimented by all of these pieces, bring his team back to the playoffs with a real hunger.

1. Boston Celtics (+300)
We may have witnessed one of the more dominant teams in NBA history last year. The Celtics powered their way to an league-best 18th championship. Not only did the team go 64-18 in the regular season, but Boston rolled through the playoffs with an impressive 16-3 record.

This team is set up to run it back with a nearly identical roster from this last year. The top seven players are all under contract. That includes Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Derrick White, Kristaps Porzingis, Jrue Holiday, Al Horford and Payton Pritchard. Sam Hauser also has a team option which I would assume the Celtics exercise since it is only for about $2 million next season.

Spacing, shooting and defense were the areas this team excelled in. Having their forwards be three-point shooters, the team could play a five-out offense and really leave space for Tatum and Brown to create.

Unselfishness also shined. Having five guys who could be your leading scorer on any given night made it very easy for players who were having a bad shooting night turn to their passing and defense to help the team win rather than forcing shots.

With banner 18 set to join the rest in the rafters of TD Garden, the next one will be on the minds of the Celtics once summer league starts next month.
 
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