The best basketball player in the world, LeBron James, has returned to his hometown team, leaving one trio of superstars to form a new “Big 3” at the Cleveland Cavaliers.
James’ influence is marked in the Miami Heat’s collapse from perma-favourites for the NBA title, to 25/1 chances this season, while the Cavs have pogoed to 10/3 market leaders at the formation of the James-Kyrie Irving-Kevin Love axis.
That’s not to say, though, that the men in wine and gold are locks for glory, here’s three teams who can challenge:
After 17 straight trips to the playoffs, in which they’ve won it all five times, the Spurs remain one of the most underrated sides in the NBA.
While the Cavaliers attract attention for their “Big 3”, the Spurs’ trio (Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili) have a combined age of 107.
Constantly written off as too old to win, last season’s NBA Champions play in an unbreakable system that puts the shot, rather than the player, first.
Their silky play last term, and their perennial unfancied status, is encapsulated perfectly in the below video:
Derrick Rose, the biggest hope the Bulls have had to win a Championship since MJ, is back for the start of the season having played just 10 games since the end of the 2011/12 season through injury.
His comeback will be alongside a new face at the United Center, with vaunted former LA Lakers power forward Pau Gasol signing on in free agency this off-season.
Along with All-Star centre Joakhim Noah, Rose and Gasol form a formidable triumvirate in the Eastern Conference and the Cavaliers’ biggest threat.
The first season with a new coach is always a slow-burner, but the Clippers won the third-most regular-season games under Doc Rivers last year.
With their core group now well ingrained and with ocean-like depth on their roster, the Clips should be confident of a deeper playoff run than the Conference semi-finals exits they registered in two of the last three campaigns.
All Odds and Markets are correct as of the date of publishing.
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