What to watch: Six NBA teams that everyone should tune into this season
By Zafir Nagji, Staff Writer
With the 2023-24 NBA season already a few weeks under way, teams are starting to settle into their 82-game rollercoaster ride. As the season commences, fans are also looking forward to finding an exciting team to watch while seeing which teams will contend for the coveted Larry O’Brien Trophy in June.
However, it’s impossible to keep up with all 30 squads at the same time while keeping up with an already jam-packed university schedule. So, with the help of this guide, fans looking to tune into some NBA action can learn about six must-watch clubs that they should keep their eyes glued to this season.
The last team to win the NBA Finals from the Eastern Conference was the 2020-21 Milwaukee Bucks, who beat the Phoenix Suns in a six-game series. Since then, injuries have plagued the team, causing them to time and time again fall short in earlier playoff rounds. Now, with a fully healthy team and newly-acquired, superstar, point guard Damian Lillard, the Bucks are looking to remind fans why they were so dominant years ago.
If you ask us, Giannis Antetokounmpo is still a top-three player in this league as he averaged 31.1 points, 11.8 rebounds and 5.4 assists per game during the 2022-23 season. Meanwhile, their latest acquisition, Lillard— who has never played with a force as dominant in driving to the basket as Antetokounmpo is—still averaged 32.2 points, 4.8 rebounds and 7.3 assists per game last year. Not to mention a 71-point game against the Houston Rockets.
This combination of outside scoring from Lillard, who’s known to hit shots from beyond 30-feet away, and Antetokounmpo, who routinely leads the league in points in the paint, is set to improve the efficiency of an offense that already had no trouble putting up big point totals.
Winning is not the only aspect that creates entertainment for basketball fans; some teams, even though they have little to no chance of winning the championship in a given year, manage to produce the most exciting action due to the raw talent of their players.
In this year’s Eastern Conference, the team that fills this role best is the Indiana Pacers. Their young point guard, Tyrese Haliburton, finished fourth in the league in assists while making the NBA All-Star team last season. When his dynamic playmaking abilities are met with the plethora of young talents around him, such as Canadian players Andrew Nembhard and Benedict Mathurin, and three-point shooting, rim-protecting center Myles Turner, it creates a beautifully flowing offense that is liable to outshoot and outscore any team on any night.
On the other hand, the NBA’s Western Conference is much more competitive than the East as there are more teams that are good enough to make the playoffs than the number of available berths.
However, the team that stands out as a candidate to make the NBA Finals for the second year in a row is the Denver Nuggets. Led by a combo of Canadian guard Jamal Murray and Serbian-sensation Nikola Jokic, the team is almost exactly the same as their ring-winning squad. Minus the efforts of two-way guard Bruce Brown, that is.
To keep the championship chemistry alive, the Nuggets retained the shooting talents of two-time NBA Champion Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and extended the contract of their young, scoring machine, Michael Porter Jr.
When the games get tight in the fourth quarters, expect this team’s superstars to come alive and play bigger as the lights get brighter. Making them a force to be reckoned with come playoff time.
There are so many other exciting squads in the West to pay attention to as well, but if there was one that could be considered most worth watching, it would have to be the Sacramento Kings.
Sure, they may not have the individual star talent that Steph Curry’s Golden State Warriors, Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving’s Dallas Mavericks or Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal and Devin Booker’s Phoenix Suns have.
They certainly do not have the historical pedigree that LeBron James and Anthony Davis’s Los Angeles Lakers have. But, what they did have last season, was the highest offensive rating in the league. Meaning, that per 100 possessions, no team was able to average as many points as the Kings.
With one of the fastest players in all of basketball, De’Aaron Fox, and his squad of run-and-gun, three-point specialists coached excellently by Mike Brown, this team is electrifyingly exciting in every single game they play.
Plus, Fox won the first-ever Jerry West NBA Clutch Player of the Year award as he created some of the most exciting basketball for fans to watch by elevating his play in clutch moments. All the while he managed to average the second-most points in the fourth quarter last season.
Some honourable mentions for this list include, the Boston Celtics with their dynamic duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown and the Cleveland Cavaliers with Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell also recorded a 70-point game last season.
The Los Angeles Clippers, who recently acquired former MVP, James Harden, now can be seen as a super team worth paying attention to. Harden now joins the court with former MVP, Russell Westbrook, 2019 Finals MVP, Kawhi Leonard and the smoothest scorer in the league, Paul George.
The New Orleans Pelicans should also be on hoops fans’ watchlists, as Zion Williamson looks to finally have his first full healthy season, meanwhile the San Antonio Spurs’ highly-reputed draft pick Victor Wembanyama is a larger-than-life, freak of nature that will leave any fan’s jaw on the floor after every play he makes.