Sports Journalist at FST, Gareth qualified as a journalist after graduating from university and spent over a decade as a freelance broadcast journalist, commentator and tipster before joining FST. Now living in Manchester, he is a long suffering Bolton Wanderers fan who also enjoys boxing, the NBA, tennis and rugby league.
The new NBA season gets underway next week and Denver Nuggets go into the new campaign as the defending champions after seeing off Miami Heat in the NBA Finals 2023.
LeBron James enters the season as the oldest active player in the league, there is plenty of interest surrounding the highly-rated Frenchman Victor Wembanyama, who enters the NBA after being selected as the first overall pick in the 2023 Draft by San Antonio Spurs, and there is a new in-season tournament to look forward to.
I’ve picked out a potential champion, a conference winners double and put together a huge 54/1 division winners accumulator tip.
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NBA 2023/24 Outright Predictions
Championship winner – Milwaukee Bucks
Milwaukee have been one of the dominant forces in the NBA regular season for the last few years but have only managed one series win in the playoffs across the last two campaigns, after claiming a second championship in 2021.
The Bucks were beaten in five games by Miami Heat last year and have since decided a change at the top was required, with Adrian Griffin replacing Mike Budenholzer as head coach.
This will be Griffin’s first year as a head coach but he has plenty of experience as an assistant and helped Toronto Raptors claim the championship in 2019.
In any case, only minor tweaks are perhaps required in Milwaukee and the Bucks pulled off the biggest trade deal in the offseason by winning the battle for Damian Lillard.
The former Portland Trail Blazers guard will team up with two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo in Milwaukee and the Bucks have a formidable team.
The Bucks are the favourites to win the championship this season and it is easy to see why. In Antetokounmpo, they have arguably the best defensive player in the league on their roster and Lillard adds another offensive weapon to their arsenal, as well as making them a real threat from three-point range – which was their only real weakness last season.
15/2 NBA Conference Winners Double
Eastern Conference Winner – Milwaukee Bucks
Western Conference Winner – Denver Nuggets
I’m backing the Bucks for overall glory and to do that they first have to win the Eastern Conference, where Boston Celtics look their biggest rivals.
In the West, Denver are the favourites and again I think the bookmakers have got this one right as well.
The Nuggets haven’t changed much in the offseason but they didn’t really need to. Star man Nikola Jokic, a two-time MVP who won the Finals MVP award in 2023, is the best player in the league and he has a strong supporting cast with Jamal Murray, Aaron Gordon and Michael Porter Jr on the roster at Denver.
Phoenix may well provide the Nuggets with their biggest threat and they have an incredibly strong side this season after bringing in Bradley Beal to compliment Kevin Durant and Devin Booker. However, Denver look a more balanced side than the Suns, particularly defensively, and that should give them a crucial edge if these two sides do face off in a best-of-seven series.
54/1 NBA Division Winners Accumulator
Boston Celtics should finish ahead of their Atlantic Division rivals as Philadelphia 76ers appear the most likely team to mount a challenge and the Sixers have probably taken a step backwards over the summer, while Milwaukee finished seven games ahead of Cleveland last season and that gap could increase this year in the Central Division.
Atlanta Hawks could topple Miami Heat in the Southeast Division as slight underdogs. The Hawks have strengthened well in the offseason and perhaps underachieved last year, while Miami are a team who know how to lock in for the playoffs and will probably be less concerned about where they end up in the East.
In the Northwest Division, Denver don’t have any realistic rivals. Minnesota Timberwolves are a good team, but it is hard to see them posting a better record than the Nuggets over 82 games.
The other two Western divisions are a little harder to call. Any one of the five teams in the Pacific Division could finish at the top – Sacramento Kings are the underdogs this year after taking the division title last year – but Phoenix are perhaps the best option, The Suns are a team that can score heavily, while Golden State and both LA teams may try to manage the minutes of their stars ahead of a playoff push.
The Southwest Division should be a three-way tussle between Memphis Grizzlies, Dallas Mavericks and New Orleans Pelicans. The Pels are my pick as there are some questions hanging over the other teams. Much will depend on whether or not Zion Williamson can stay fit for New Orleans, but if he can play in the majority of their games they could well be a surprise package in the West.
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