NBA Pretender or Contender: What title favorites have a real chance to win it all?

Looking ahead to the NBA Playoffs, we play pretender or contender with a few of the title favorites.

Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics - Game Five
Milwaukee Bucks v Boston Celtics - Game Five / Maddie Malhotra/GettyImages
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Oklahoma City Thunder (45-20): Contender

The Thunder are a young team and that will make people write them off as true contenders. I say, "who cares?" They have a legitimate MVP candidate on the roster in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, a legitimate rookie of the year candidate in Chet Holmgren, and a legitimate coach of the year in Mark Daigneault. That's a lot of honors.

The Thunder are 6-3 against the teams featured here in our exercise. They are not afraid of the bright lights and the moment is not too big for them. Last year's team felt cute, this year's team feels dangerous. The Thunder are top-five in both offensive (120.0) and defensive (111.3) rating and are second to the Celtics in NET rating (7.6).

The Thunder rarely turns the ball over, fourth in the league in turnover percentage (12.3) and fifth in assist/turnover ratio (2.16:1). The Thunder are also incredibly efficient in regards to their shooting splits, pacing the NBA in true shooting percentage (61.0) and placing third in effective field goal percentage (57.5).

All of these advanced stats are aimed to suggest that this team is very, scary good. The Thunder aren't afraid of anyone and they are out there to prove to the fanbase and the league that it's got next. This team has all the star power and ancillary talent at its disposal to counter every team in the NBA.

Watch out for the Thunder this upcoming postseason, they have everything it takes to be true contenders. Don't be surprised if this team goes all the way. The Thunder are absolutely contending this season.

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