The NBA regular season is well underway, and basketball is as exciting as it’s ever been. LeBron James’ relocation to the Los Angeles Lakers has seemingly skewed the balance of power in the favor of the Western Conference, but that’s only invited a wave of upstart contenders in the East. With the season a quarter of the way through, here’s an in-depth look at the top six teams in the league thus far.
#3: Milwaukee Bucks
The hiring of Mike Budenholzer and subtle acquisitions of Brook Lopez and Ersan Illyasova have given the Bucks a completely new offensive look, spacing out the floor for MVP frontrunner Giannis Antetokounmpo to attack. While the Bucks’ record isn’t overly impressive at 16-8, they boast the league’s best offense and highest point differential. As long as Antetokounmpo remains unstoppable, the Bucks will contend for a spot in the NBA Finals.
#2: Golden State Warriors
The Warriors have experienced a season’s worth of drama already, including a feud between Kevin Durant and Draymond Green, injuries to Green and Steph Curry, and a slow start from Klay Thompson. Yet at the end, they’ve won 18 games against just nine losses, and just beat the Bucks by ten points on a night when superstar Durant scored only eleven points. Curry is playing arguably the best basketball of his career, while Durant went full supernova in his absence and Thompson has heated back up. Questions certainly linger as to the future of the superteam, but for now, the Warriors clearly remain the immovable object in the way of all 29 other teams in the hunt for a championship.
#1: Toronto Raptors
Simply put, despite the known brilliance of Golden State and emergence of the Bucks, the Raptors have been the best team in the NBA this season. Swapping hometown hero DeMar DeRozan for Kawhi Leonard has lifted the Raptors to a level they could never quite reach with LeBron James in the Eastern Conference, and with the King’s departure the Raptors look poised to claim the crown in the East. They’ve won the most games with the second-best point differential and have been steadily great all season, with a near impeccable roster. Overall, the Raptors might be the strongest challenger to Golden State than any team in the past two years.