From Mavericks to Pelicans, 5 NBA teams who are dark horses for title this year - Hindustan Times

From Dallas Mavericks to New Orleans Pelicans, 5 NBA teams who are dark horses for the title this year

Aug 07, 2023 10:22 PM IST

From Dallas Mavericks to New Orleans Pelicans, here are five teams who have the ability to take down even the most powerful outfits when things click.

Over the last year, the world of Basketball has witnessed the emergence of several talented players, with each team becoming a contender for the NBA championship. This was proven when Denver Nuggets went on to clinch the first championship in their history. A scintillating performance from their starting five of Jokic, Murray, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon helped the Nuggets to register a 4-1 win in the final against the Miami Heat.

Getting points on the board will not be an issue for Mavericks, but the defensive chinks are a cause for worry
Getting points on the board will not be an issue for Mavericks, but the defensive chinks are a cause for worry

With all of them under contract till 2024-25, the Nuggets are expected to remain one of the dominant forces in the upcoming season. Since the competition’s quality has been at an all-time high in recent times, it won’t be surprising if any lesser-fancied franchise challenges for the NBA title in the 2023-24 season. Let’s take a look at some of those teams that can shock the NBA next season:

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Oklahoma City Thunder

Oklahoma City Thunder earned a place in the NBA Play-in tournament after last season. T Oklahoma can appear as one of the best offences in the 2023-24 season. They have got some impressive playmakers like Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Josh Giddey and Jalen Williams whose height can also make the task difficult for their opponents. A lot depends on the injury status of Chet Holmgren who couldn’t feature last season. Oklahoma needs his playmaking power to move ahead in the championship.

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New Orleans Pelicans

New Orleans Pelicans have quite a few star players but they have been plagued by injuries. Their power forward Zion Williamson appeared in red-hot form. Williamson could grab eyeballs with his frequent attack on the rim, while Brandon Ingram is quite a decent shooter. If their partnership works again, New Orleans can arrive as one of the contenders.

Orlando Magic

Orlando Magic has got a number of young talents, who could show off their skills last season. All of Paolo Banchero, Franz Wagner, Wendell Carter Jr., Markelle Fultz and Jalen Suggs are expected to become more mature in the upcoming season. Wagner is predicted to become a star performer for his side. The 21-year-old currently has the second-highest effective field-goal percentage in NBA history.

Minnesota Timberwolves

IfKarl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert can gel well, Minnesota Timberwolves can finally be the team that everyone expects them to be. When Gobert, a two-time NBA defensive player of the year, moved to Minnesota fans hoped they would at least make it to the conference finals. That was not the case last season with the team dragged into the chaos we call play-in. Much will also be expected from shooting guard Anthony Edwards if he stays on.

Dallas Mavericks

With Luka Doncic in their ranks, Dallas Mavericks can never be counted out. The Slovenian is a once-in-a-decade kind of player for whom getting buckets is a walk in the park. To add more star power, the Mavericks have brought in Kyrie Irving who can shoot at will. Getting points on the board will not be an issue for Mavericks, but the defensive chinks are a cause for worry. Precisely why they got Grant Williams from Boston Celtics. Dallas Mavericks are clearly a team everyone must be wary of.

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