Now, the pivotal question looms: Which of the top contenders will rise to claim the ultimate championship glory?
The Denver Nuggets firmly established their supremacy in the Western Conference, showcasing undeniable dominance. But can they secure back-to-back titles?
A plethora of challengers stand ready: The Boston Celtics are determined to avenge their upset by the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference, with Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo leading the charge alongside a potential star guard from the West. The Phoenix Suns, LA Clippers, and Golden State Warriors have injected fresh dynamics into their rosters. Additionally, the Eastern Conference regular-season champion Milwaukee Bucks, led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, are back in full force after a humbling first-round exit last season.
Furthermore, it would be unwise to overlook the potential of the Sacramento Kings and the New York Knicks, as they seek to build upon the momentum gained from the previous season and propel themselves forward in the postseason.
Our team of experts has ranked their top choices for both the Eastern and Western Conferences, as well as the eventual NBA champion. A first-place vote earns five points, a second-place vote garners three, and a third-place vote receives one.
Here are the compiled results:
Note: Our 2023-24 NBA Summer Forecast this week has encompassed the most significant queries and projections, including MVP and DPOY predictions.
Eastern Conference Finals Winner Predictions: Once again, the top two seeds from the previous year’s Eastern Conference playoffs emerge as the frontrunners in our panel’s projections. The Milwaukee Bucks and the Boston Celtics are clear favorites to reach the 2023-24 NBA Finals.
Following a surprising early exit from last season’s playoffs, the Bucks are determined to return to the conference summit. With key players like Brook Lopez, Khris Middleton, and new addition sharpshooter Malik Beasley, the Bucks aim for redemption.
The Celtics, bolstered by the addition of Kristaps Porzingis alongside All-NBA forwards Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, are poised for a strong showing, securing a close second position.
Claiming the third spot in our projections is the Miami Heat, gaining favor after their unexpected appearance in the NBA Finals last season. Led by the coaching prowess of Erik Spoelstra, the Heat’s duo of Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo is formidable, and potentially even more so if Damian Lillard joins their ranks.
The New York Knicks, propelled by point guard Jalen Brunson, make a leap into contention after their conference semifinals run. The Cleveland Cavaliers, with a roster featuring Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen, Darius Garland, and Donovan Mitchell, are also viewed as formidable postseason contenders.
- Milwaukee Bucks: 86 points (40% of first-place votes)
- Boston Celtics: 80 points (40%)
- Miami Heat: 38 points (4%)
- New York Knicks: 12 points (16%)
- Cleveland Cavaliers: 9 points
Western Conference Finals Winner Predictions: The Denver Nuggets overwhelmingly stand as the favorite in the Western Conference, backed by their dominant regular season, a decisive sweep of the Los Angeles Lakers in the conference finals, and a convincing 4-1 victory over the Heat to secure their first NBA championship. The primary question revolves around whether any team can challenge its supremacy.
The Phoenix Suns emerge as the most credible challengers, boasting a formidable Big Three in Kevin Durant, Bradley Beal, and Devin Booker, thanks to their roster restructuring. Notably, the Golden State Warriors, equipped with Chris Paul alongside their deep roster, make a strong appearance at third, following their leading position last summer.
The Los Angeles Lakers, led by all-time leading scorer LeBron James, seek to validate their previous season’s conference finals run. Meanwhile, the Clippers rely on the health of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, with the addition of Russell Westbrook, to mount a serious title pursuit.
Surprising pushes during the latter half of the regular season land the Minnesota Timberwolves and Sacramento Kings in the mix according to our panel’s projections.
- Denver Nuggets: 106 points (76% of first-place votes)
- Phoenix Suns: 60 points (12%)
- Golden State Warriors: 27 points (8%)
- Los Angeles Lakers: 24 points (4%)
- L.A. Clippers: 6 points
- Minnesota Timberwolves: 1 point
- Sacramento Kings: 1 point
NBA Finals Winner Predictions: Despite a highly competitive Western Conference, our 2024 Summer Forecast panel anticipates a repeat performance: The Denver Nuggets are forecasted to secure a second consecutive championship. Their dominance in the West seems difficult to challenge.
The Milwaukee Bucks are expected to rebound from last season’s early exit, returning to the Finals under the guidance of new coach Griffin. A significant narrative in Milwaukee will be Giannis Antetokounmpo’s contract situation, adding extra motivation for the Bucks to reach the Finals once again.
While defending Eastern Conference champions, the Miami Heat are unlikely to catch opponents off guard this time. According to our panel’s votes, the Boston Celtics pose the most substantial threat to the Bucks, bolstered by their revamped lineup.
Yet, can the Golden State Warriors, LeBron and the Lakers, or the Phoenix Suns orchestrate deep playoff runs? Betting against them comes with its own risks.
- Denver Nuggets: 80 points (48% of first-place votes)
- Milwaukee Bucks: 49 points (28%)
- Boston Celtics: 32 points (4%)
- Phoenix Suns: 30 points (8%)
- Miami Heat: 22 points (12%)
- Golden State Warriors: 6 points
- Los Angeles Lakers: 5 points
- Minnesota Timberwolves: 1 point