July 31 is the target date for a restart to the NBA season, and 22 teams will be vying for a chance to make a playoff run and ultimately take home the Larry O’Brien Trophy.
While a lot of people are expecting teams like the Lakers, Clippers, Bucks and Raptors to pick up where they left off and make deep runs in the playoffs, there are a few teams currently flying under the radar. Here are the squads that can surprise some people under strange circumstances.
3. Denver Nuggets
A Denver run would not necessarily a surprise in the grand scheme of the league, as they currently hold the third-best record in the West. If everything holds true to form at the top, Denver could be looking at a playoff matchup with one of the LA teams. If star Nikola Jokic is on his game and supporting members Jamal Murray, Paul Millsap, Will Barton and others pick up the slack, Denver could make some noise.
2. Miami Heat
Coming into the season, it looked like Heat president Pat Riley had put together a bunch of misfits in Miami. As it turns out, those misfits are sitting pretty at fourth in the East. Led by Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, Miami has the framework to compete with any team in the conference. The top two guys excel at playing both ways, while shooters like Tyler Herro, Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson spread the floor.
1. Oklahoma City Thunder
No one expected the Thunder to be as good as they are following their trades of Russell Westbrook and Paul George during the 2019 offseason. The haul that OKC got in return has done all but match their production. Chris Paul, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Danilo Gallinari have led the Billy Donovan-coached Thunder to fifth in the West. OKC surprised everyone throughout the season, and they are bound to do it again.