5 NBA contenders everyone is overlooking
With the NBA past the 60-game point, it’s time to start separating the contenders from the pretenders.
While a few teams in each conference will steal all the buzz as the season transitions to the playoffs, there are teams flying under the radar that can make noise. These contenders are being overlooked, and that might be to the misfortune of those who will face them come playoff time.
Odds to win the 2020 NBA Championship
|Team||2020 NBA Championship Odds|
Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Clippers
Houston Rockets (+1200)
The Houston Rockets traded away Clint Capella at the deadline, which left them with a small-ball roster, and along with strong defensive play since the All-Star break, the Rockets are firing on all cylinders ahead of the postseason.
James Harden and Russell Westbrook are destined to take these Rockets into a second-round showdown against either of the Los Angeles teams, and now more than ever, they have a shot to take them out.
Oklahoma City Thunder (+10000)
The Thunder were not supposed to be competitive this season, but thanks to the play of a revitalized Chris Paul and the emergence of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, the club sits as the fifth seed in the Western Conference, and the stock is rising.
This is a young team led by a capable veteran and boasts three of the best clutch players in the league, which means, if you don’t blow the Thunder out early, they’ll catch you late.
Miami Heat (+2000)
The Heat’s recent bungling of an easy stretch after the All-star break is troubling, but there is still enough time for the team to regroup, as the Eastern Conference playoff picture remains in flux.
Miami needs to right the ship and stay ahead of the slumping 76ers. If the Heat can do that, the All-Star tandem of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, along with experienced coach Erik Spoelstra, is going to be a tough combination to beat.
Bam Adebayo is averaging 16.1 PPG, 10.5 RPG, 5.1 APG, 1.3 BPG & 1.2 SPG.— Simon Smith (@SimonSperling) March 1, 2020
Over a full season, the only players in NBA history to have recorded this, per @bball_ref:
▫️Giannis Antetokounmpo #HeatTwitter
Indiana Pacers (+6600)
Much like the Thunder, Indiana was supposed to be on the outs, with Victor Oladipo recovering from a devastating injury, but the Pacers have persevered and should get better once Oladipo gets to full strength.
Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner have done their part to keep this team competitive, and if they stay healthy and focus on maintaining their current path, they could be a sleeper in the playoffs.
Dallas Mavericks (+3300)
A late-season surge can see the scrappy Mavericks jump from the No. 7 seed to as high as No. 2 in the West.
Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis continue to develop their deadly chemistry. Add in Tim Hardaway Jr.’s resurgence, and the mix has made the Mavericks a serious threat. A tough closing schedule will test their mettle, but a healthy Mavs team will be hard to beat.