After what was a gruelling return to 82-games in the NBA, and a compressed playoff schedule, the Golden State Warriors came out of the year as the NBA Champions. They defeated the Eastern Conference winning Boston Celtics in just six games!
With the NBA off-season underway, many are already looking ahead at who will be the winners of the 2023 NBA season. While the Warriors and Celtics are the sportsbook’s favorite, there are a few teams who look to surprise the contenders next year.
Despite reaching at least the Western Conference Finals in the past two seasons, as well as earning the best record in league in 2022, the Phoenix Suns are currently outside of the top four. The sportsbooks are surprisingly listing the LA Clippers as most likely to compete for the NBA and Western Conference crown with the Warriors.
Let’s take a closer look at the odds to win the 2023 NBA Championship!
Odds taken from DraftKings Sportsbook
|POR Trail Blazers||+12000|
All odds are retrieved from DraftKings Sportsbook.
With so many changes already afoot through the 2022 NBA offseason, it really seems like it’ll be one of the most competitive seasons ever for the NBA championship. While the Warriors top the list, the following teams are also in the running for the NBA title.
|Team||21-22 Record||Result||PTS Leader||ASTS Leader||REB Leader|
|GSW||53-29, 3rd in West||Won Finals||S. Curry (25.5)||D. Green (7.0)||D. Green, K. Looney (7.3)|
Key Players: Stephen Curry, Draymond Green, Klay Thompson, Andrew Wiggins
Head Coach: Steve Kerr
After two non-playoff years after their last performance in the NBA Finals, the Warriors finally find themselves back on the mountaintop. They showed through their defensive standards and incredibly threatening offence, that they are truly one of the greatest franchises in NBA history.
The Warriors don’t project to be the 2023 NBA Champions just because of their status as current champs. Expect young players like Jonthan Kuminga and Jordan Poole to hit another tier in their production, while also having James Wiseman return to the lineup to build off of what was a promising rookie campaign.
The Golden State Warriors like to play small, and that can be a detriment to them at times. They also found themselves struggling to find a secondary scorer to support Curry in the playoffs. At the end of the day their execution and defence won them the 2022 NBA title, but they’re not a team without weakness.
|Team||’21-’22 Record||Result||PTS Leader||ASTS Leader||REB Leader|
|BOS||51-31, 2nd in East||Lost in NBA Finals||J. Tatum (26.9)||M. Smart (5.9)||R. Williams (9.6)|
Key Players: Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart, Robert Williams
Head Coach: Ime Udoka
The Boston Celtics fell just short of their ultimate goal of adding another NBA Championship to their storied franchise. Despite their loss to the Golden State Warriors, it doesn’t take away from the Celtic’s fantastic achievement or the performance of first-year head coach Ime Udoka.
Through the NBA Playoffs, Jayson Tatum showed that he has the potential to be one of the biggest stars in the league. He had his down points, but the play of Smart, Horford, and especially Jaylen Brown, usually made up the difference.
The Boston Celtics’ depth was one of their greatest assets when reaching the NBA Finals. As they aim for another run at the title, their continuity should be what sets them above other contenders in the East.
|Team||’21-’22 Record||Result||PTS Leader||ASTS Leader||REB Leader|
|MIL||51-31, 3rd in East||Lost in Semi-Finals||G. Antetokounmpo (29.9)||J. Holiday (6.8)||G. Antetokounmpo (11.6)|
Key Players: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, Jrue Holiday
Head Coach: Mike Budenholzer
The Milwaukee Bucks were having a dominant season through 2021-2022, however injuries derailed their progress. While they were knocked out in the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals, their inability to find production through injuries spelled their doom.
Star big man Giannis Antetokounmpo put on another MVP-worthy season with the Bucks in 2021-2022, and doesn’t look as if he’s going to be slowing down anytime soon. His performance will always put the Bucks in the running for an NBA title.
The Bucks need to improve their depth if they hope to get back into the running for the NBA title. Last season showed how injuries can derail their plans, especially considering their scoring ability drops off significantly with any of their main trio unavailable.
|Team||’21-’22 Record||Result||PTS Leader||ASTS Leader||REB Leader|
|LAC||42-40, 8th in West||Lost in Play-In Tournament||P. George (24.3)||P. George (5.7)||I. Zubac (8.5)|
Key Players: Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Reggie Jackson
Head Coach: Tyronn Lue
Despite not making the NBA Playoffs last season, the LA Clippers find themselves in the top four of most sportsbooks for the NBA title in 2023. While their performance last season disappointed, their potential is incredible.
Of what was meant to be a devastating trio, Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, and Norman Powell combined to play just 36 of a possible combined 246 regular season games. On a positive note, their remaining roster was still able to finish above .500 on the season.
If the Clippers can have a relatively healthy roster, even if just for a playoff run, there’s seemingly nothing they can’t accomplish. However, their success depends purely upon their fantastic role players having a true star to follow.
Golden State Warriors to Win 2022 NBA Championship
There are so many variables yet to be determined through the NBA offseason, but the Golden State Warriors are one of the teams that actually project to improve without any significant roster changes. In terms of defending their title, the Warriors are the league’s best modern example.
The 2022 NBA Champions were the Golden State Warriors! After two down seasons where they suffered from significant injuries to their stars and, at one point, the worst record in the league, they showed that health was the only thing holding them back.
The Warriors faced the Boston Celtics in the 2022 NBA Finals, winning the series 4-2 on Boston’s home court.
After winning his fourth NBA Championship, Stephen Curry won his first-ever NBA Finals MVP Award.
Their route to the team’s seventh Championship was no easy task:
|Opponent||Conference||Seed (Record)||Series Record||Team PPG||Opp PPG||GSW PPG Leader||GSW REB Leader||GSW AST Leader|
|Boston Celtics||East||2nd (51-31)||4-2||104.8||100.8||S. Curry (31.2)||A. Wiggins (8.8)||D. Green (6.2)|
|Dallas Mavericks||West||4th (52-30)||4-1||115.2||106.6||S. Curry (23.8)||K. Looney (10.6)||S. Curry (7.4)|
|Memphis Grizzlies||West||2nd (56-26)||4-2||111.0||110.3||S. Curry (26.0)||D. Green (8.7)||D. Green (6.0)|
|Denver Nuggets||West||6th (48-34)||4-1||118.0||110.0||S. Curry (28.0)||A. Wiggins (6.8)||D. Green (7.4)|
|Year||Western Conference Champion||Series Result||Eastern Conference Champion|
|2022||Golden State Warriors||4-2||Boston Celtics|
|2021||Phoenix Suns||2-4||Milwaukee Bucks|
|2020||Los Angeles Lakers||4-2||Miami Heat|
|2019||Golden State Warriors||2-4||Toronto Raptors|
|2018||Golden State Warriors||4-0||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|2017||Golden State Warriors||4-1||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|2016||Golden State Warriors||3-4||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|2015||Golden State Warriors||4-2||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|2014||San Antonio Spurs||4-1||Miami Heat|
|2013||San Antonio Spurs||3-4||Miami Heat|
|2012||Oklahoma City Thunder||1-4||Miami Heat|
|2011||Dallas Mavericks||4-2||Miami Heat|
|2010||Los Angeles Lakers||4-3||Boston Celtics|
|2009||Los Angeles Lakers||4-1||Orlando Magic|
|2008||Los Angeles Lakers||2-4||Boston Celtics|
|2007||San Antonio Spurs||4-0||Cleveland Cavaliers|
|2006||Dallas Mavericks||2-4||Miami Heat|
|2005||San Antonio Spurs||4-3||Detroit Pistons|
|2004||Los Angeles Lakers||1-4||Detroit Pistons|
|2003||San Antonio Spurs||4-2||New Jersey Nets|
|2002||Los Angeles Lakers||4-0||New Jersey Nets|
|2001||Los Angeles Lakers||4-1||Philadelphia 76ers|
|2000||Los Angeles Lakers||4-2||Indiana Pacers|
|1999||San Antonio Spurs||4-1||New York Knicks|
|1998||Utah Jazz||2-4||Chicago Bulls|
|1997||Utah Jazz||2-4||Chicago Bulls|
|1996||Seattle SuperSonics||2-4||Chicago Bulls|
|1995||Houston Rockets||4-0||Orlando Magic|
|1994||Houston Rockets||4-3||New York Knicks|
|1993||Phoenix Suns||2-4||Chicago Bulls|
|1992||Portland Trail Blazers||2-4||Chicago Bulls|
|1991||Los Angeles Lakers||1-4||Chicago Bulls|
|1990||Portland Trail Blazers||1-4||Detroit Pistons|
|1989||Los Angeles Lakers||0-4||Detroit Pistons|
|1988||Los Angeles Lakers||4-3||Detroit Pistons|
|1987||Los Angeles Lakers||4-2||Boston Celtics|
|1986||Houston Rockets||2-4||Boston Celtics|
|1985||Los Angeles Lakers||4-2||Boston Celtics|
|1984||Los Angeles Lakers||3-4||Boston Celtics|
|1983||Los Angeles Lakers||0-4||Philadelphia 76ers|
|1982||Los Angeles Lakers||4-2||Philadelphia 76ers|
|1981||Houston Rockets||0-4||Boston Celtics|
|1980||Los Angeles Lakers||4-2||Philadelphia 76ers|
|1979||Seattle Supersonics||4-1||Washington Bullets|
|1978||Seattle Supersonics||3-4||Washington Bullets|
|1977||Portland Trail Blazers||4-2||Philadelphia 76ers|
|1976||Phoenix Suns||2-4||Boston Celtics|
|1975||Golden State Warriors||4-0||Washington Bullets|
|1974||Milwaukee Bucks||3-4||Boston Celtics|
|1973||Los Angeles Lakers||1-4||New York Knicks|
|1972||Los Angeles Lakers||4-1||New York Knicks|
|1971||Milwaukee Bucks||4-0||Baltimore Bullets|
|1970||Los Angeles Lakers||3-4||New York Knicks|
|1969||Los Angeles Lakers||3-4||Boston Celtics|
|1968||Los Angeles Lakers||2-4||Boston Celtics|
|1967||San Francisco Warriors||2-4||Philadelphia 76ers|
|1966||Los Angeles Lakers||3-4||Boston Celtics|
|1965||Los Angeles Lakers||1-4||Boston Celtics|
|1964||San Francisco Warriors||1-4||Boston Celtics|
|1963||Los Angeles Lakers||2-4||Boston Celtics|
|1962||Los Angeles Lakers||3-4||Boston Celtics|
|1961||St. Louis Hawks||3-4||Boston Celtics|
|1960||St. Louis Hawks||3-4||Boston Celtics|
|1959||Minneapolis Lakers||0-4||Boston Celtics|
|1958||St. Louis Hawks||4-2||Boston Celtics|
|1957||St. Louis Hawks||3-4||Boston Celtics|
|1956||Fort Wayne Pistons||1-4||Philadelphia 76ers|
|1955||Fort Wayne Pistons||3-4||Syracuse Nationals|
|1954||Minneapolis Lakers||4-3||Syracuse Nationals|
|1953||Minneapolis Lakers||4-1||New York Knicks|
|1952||Minneapolis Lakers||4-3||New York Knicks|
|1951||Rochester Royals||4-3||New York Knicks|
|1950||Minneapolis Lakers||4-2||Syracuse Nationals|
|1949||Minneapolis Lakers||4-2||Washington Capitols|
|1948||Baltimore Bullets||4-2||Philadelphia 76ers|
|1947||Chicago Stags||1-4||Philadelphia Warriors|
The NBA Champions receive the Larry O’Brien Trophy upon closing out their opponents in the NBA Finals. The Larry O’Brien Trophy was only awarded beginning in 1984. Before that, teams received the Walter A. Brown Trophy. The Walter A. Brown Trophy now resides in the Naismith Basketball Hall of Fame.In terms of prize money, the NBA Champions don’t receive anything of the sort. Due to the fact that teams participating in the NBA Playoffs are entitled to additional television revenues, players receive a bonus for each game they participate in. In 2018, the amount was reported to be in the realm of $20 million. The winner of the prize pool had approximately $3 million to split between their players.Exposure is also a huge reward for the NBA Champions during their following season. Massive amounts of signage, imagery, and player likeness from the championship side are used for the subsequent season. Champions can also expect an increase in nationally televised games. For example, the 2019 Champion Toronto Raptors received 11 nationally broadcasted games in 2019-2020, compared to an average of just three per season in their previous ten seasons.
The Larry O’Brien Trophy is the ultimate reward for the years NBA Championship team. Introduced in 1984, the Larry O’Brien Trophy replaced the more cup-like Walter A. Brown Trophy. Unlike the Walter A. Brown Trophy, each team gets to keep one version of the Larry O’Brien Trophy for themselves.The Larry O’Brien Trophy is made of seven kilograms of sterling silver and vermeil, with a 24 karat gold overlay as defined by Tiffany & Co. The design imitates a basketball entering the net. The team name and year of their victory is engraved on the base of the trophy, usually displayed prominently in the team’s home arena.Players, coaches, and staff are usually able to organize times during the offseason in which they can acquire the Larry O’Brien Trophy for temporary, personal use.
Due to the fact that NBA players on the championship side don’t get to keep a version of the Larry O’Brien Trophy for themselves, Championship Rings have been common for teams to commission for its players.Modest during the outset of the NBA, Championship rings have grown more beautiful and lavish as the years have gone on.Jason of Beverly Hills crafted the 2021 NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks’ ring. It features more than 400 diamonds, and a removable top that features a QR code that can be scanned to display all of the best moments from Milwaukee’s championship season.
The inaugural winners of the NBA Championship were the 1946-1947 Philadelphia Warriors. Technically speaking, at the time of their victory the league was known as the BAA or the Basketball Association of America. If you consider 1948 as the true debut season of the NBA, the eventual NBA Champions were still the Philadelphia Warriors.
There are a number of NBA franchises that are yet to win a title. Whether they’ve been terribly close or never within striking distance, these teams are still looking to add the Larry O’Brien trophy to their cabinet.Indiana Pacers (est. 1976)Charlotte Hornets (est. 1988 as Hornets, 2004 as Bobcats, 2014 as Hornets)Oklahoma City Thunder (est. 2008)Brooklyn Nets (est. 2012)Memphis Grizzlies (est. 2001)Utah Jazz (est. 1979)Phoenix Suns (est. 1968)New Orleans Pelicans (est. 2002 as NO Hornets, 2013 as Pelicans)LA Clippers (est. 1984)Denver Nuggets (est. 1976)Orlando Magic (est. 1989)Minnesota Timberwolves (est. 1989)
Founded in 1968-1969, the Milwaukee Bucks won their first NBA Championship during the 1970-1971 NBA season. Outside of the Philadelphia Warriors, who won the inaugural BAA Finals, the Milwaukee Bucks were the fastest expansion team to the title. But how did they do it?After the drafting of Lew Alcindor, later known as NBA Legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, in 1969 and acquiring Oscar Robertson in a trade, the Milwaukee Bucks found their way to an NBA Championship by sweeping the Baltimore Bullets in the 1971 NBA Finals.
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Christian Jope is a writer, social media strategist, and data analyst. A Queen’s University Alumni, Christian is an author and social media strategist with Raptors Cage, while also working closely with MLSE and Canada Basketball through community-driven events.
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