Almost everyone thinks the NBA’s best teams this season will be the Golden State Warriors, the Cleveland Cavaliers, and the San Antonio Spurs – in no particular order. Quite frankly, it’s hard to argue with that assessment.
ESPN just released its first preseason power rankings of the year, and they have the Warriors, Cavs, and Spurs ranked first, second and third.
Las Vegas has installed Cleveland as the odds-on favorite to win the 2016 title, followed by San Antonio and Golden State.
According to Basketball-Reference.com, the defending NBA champion Golden State Warriors were more dominant last year than any team since Michael Jordan’s Chicago Bulls, posting the seventh-highest simple rating score in league history, which takes into account margin of victory and strength of schedule.
Golden State is loaded with talent, but repeating as champs is difficult in any sport, as every team you play will be sky-high for the challenge. When you are the defending champs you wear a bulls-eye on your jerseys.
Cleveland, which nearly won it all last year in spite of injuries to key players in the playoffs, has the advantage of playing in the much weaker Eastern Conference, where they are huge favorites to make it to the NBA Finals again this season. This also makes it easier for them to have the better record, and home-court advantage, in the Finals against the Western Conference champion.
The San Antonio Spurs had the best offseason of any team in the league, acquiring the top free-agent in the market in forward LaMarcus Aldridge, an uncharacteristically splashy move for a team that has always developed players through the draft.
That policy has worked extremely well for them over the past couple of decades, resulting in five NBA titles. They have been, quite simply, the most dominant team in the league since 1999.
The Spurs also acquired guard David West from the Indiana Pacers, as well as resigning Kawhi Leonard and Tim Duncan.
San Antonio was already one of the best teams in the league, losing a tough, close playoff series to the Los Angeles Clippers in seven games last year. With these acquisitions, they may well be the best team in the NBA this season.