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2019-20 NBA championship rankings: Rockets still in mix with Westbrook; Lakers, Clippers lead way; Warriors a factor –

After a wild first week of free agency, the NBA title race is as wide open as it’s been in decades. The battle for Los Angeles supremacy becomes the epicenter of the league with the Clippers and Lakers now fielding four of the top 10 players in the league, and perhaps three of the top five. The Warriors are not done. The Bucks and the 76ers are right there as well. The Rockets just traded Chris Paul for Russell Westbrook. 

Current odds: 7/2

Current odds: 9/2

Current odds: 12/1

Current odds: 8/1

Current odds: 9/2

Current odds: 16/1

Current odds: 14/1

Current odds: 25/1

Current odds: 8/1

Current odds: 30/1

You can say there are favorites next season, but there are no sure things. No complete super-teams. Even teams like the Jazz, Nuggets and Trail Blazers — all probably conference finals teams at best in years prior — are now within a puncher’s chance if things break their way. 

There’s a strong argument to made the Sixers belong ahead of the Warriors. Philly’s defense is going to be monstrous, and just for argument’s sake, if Philly and Golden State were to meet up in the Finals, I don’t know how the Warriors would contend with all that size. At the moment, the Warriors get the nod as a known championship entity even without Durant and Iguodala, but man the Sixers look good. They essentially swapped Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick for Al Horford and Josh Richardson .

All things considered, with a bit of projection for how a few of these teams might not be done dealing, the top 10 contenders for the 2019-20 NBA championship are below. 

On paper, that’s a relatively even swap, but on the court this makes the Sixers better than they were last season — when, remember, they were one Kawhi Leonard rim-roller from taking the eventual champions to overtime in Game 7.

Richardson gives them a pick-and-roll initiator and floor spacer to continue accounting for the unique challenges Ben Simmons ‘ presence presents for an offense, and Horford arguably becomes a top-10 player in the playoffs on his defense alone. The two best players in the East are Giannis Antetokounmpo and Joel Embiid . One of them still has to deal with Horford, the other now gets to play alongside him. Philly could still use shooting and depth, and Simmons’ inability to score outside of the paint is still a problem that grows exponentially in the playoffs, but from a pure talent standpoint the Sixers can make up for a lot with what is probably the best starting five in the league.

…Read On

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