With the Golden State Warriors clearly on some kind of mission to convince their doubters that they are indeed elite – and the Spurs, Cavs and Thunder all having legitimate championship hopes – it goes without saying that any team outside of the quartet of aforementioned ballclubs is facing an uphill battle in their efforts to hoist the 2016 Larry O’Brien NBA Championship trophy.
Still, I believe eight teams all have a respectable chance of pulling off some kind of upset as a dark horse pick to win the 2016 title, no matter how small that chance may be.
If you’re looking for a good dark horse pick to pull off the huge upset, then you should look at one of the following eight teams, and don’t forget to keep checking our NBA lines for further info.
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— LA Clippers (@LAClippers) February 3, 2016
Dark Horse Picks To Win The 2016 NBA Championship
Los Angeles Clippers +3000
The Clippers (32-16) have a great point guard in Chris Paul (18.8 ppg, 9.5 apg), an excellent defensive center in DeAndre Jordan, a gifted power forward in Blake Griffin (23.2 ppg), a pair of sweet-shooting two-guards in Jamal Crawford and J.J. Redick. L.A. also has a widely-respected head coach in Doc Rivers and one of the best clutch players in the game today in veteran small forward Paul Pierce.
Unfortunately, the Clippers are also dysfunctional inside their locker room and have yet to figure out how to effectively use Lance Stephenson, Wesley Johnson and Pierce. Still, the Clippers will reach the postseason – and they’ll have a chance to pull off one or two ‘upsets’ at the very least.
Chicago Bulls +4000
The Bulls (26-21) have a flat-out star in Jimmy Butler (22.4 ppg) and one of the most versatile forwards in all of basketball in the still effective Pau Gasol, the first player in league history to average at least 16 points and 10 rebounds per game at age 35 or older.
Unfortunately, first-year head coach Fred Hoiberg has struggled in replacing former head coach Tom Thibodeau while not finding a way to effectively use his plethora of forwards that includes Nikola Mirotic, Doug McDermott, Tajh Gibson and athletic rookie Bobby Portis. Not only that, but after watching the Bulls shut down their opponents for years under Thibs, the Bulls now look nothing like the defensive juggernaut they used to be. Still, in a watered down Eastern Conference, I believe they’ll have a chance to upset Cleveland.
Toronto Raptors +4000
The Raptors (33-16) have an elite backcourt with Kyle Lowry (20.8 ppg) and DeMar DeRozan (23.2 ppg) and really, really good head coach in Dwayne Casey, but they’re thin up front with Jonas Valanciunas and Luis Scola being their best big men. Still, the Raptors give the maximum effort each night and they play really good defense in ranking fifth in points allowed (97.0 ppg). I like Toronto as my No. 1 dark horse pick in the Eastern Conference.
Atlanta Hawks +6500
The Hawks (28-22) rank 14th in scoring (101.8 ppg) and a stellar seventh in defense (99.9 ppg). Atlanta has a core group of very good players in Al Horford, Paul Millsap (17.8 ppg, 8.8 rpg), and Jeff Teague (14.9 ppg), but what they don’t have is a superstar they can go to for a basket when things get tough. Still, the Hawks could live up to their billing as the ‘Spurs of the East’ and make things really tough for Cleveland or whoever they meet in the Eastern Conference playoffs.
Indiana Pacers +6500
I know the Pacers (25-23) were a lot closer to conference dominance a couple of years ago, but they’ve still go a superstar in Paul George (23.2 ppg), an excellent scorer in Monta Ellis (14.3 ppg) and some other really competent players in players like George Hill, C.J. Miles and Ian Mahinmi, but they’re also lacking quality depth. Still with the Pacers ranking an identical eighth in scoring (102.7 ppg) and points allowed (100.1) I think they’ll have a shot to pull off a postseason upset or two.
Miami Heat +7500
Call is nostalgia if you want, but I’m giving the Miami Heat (27-22) an outside chance of pulling off some postseason upsets, if for no other reasons than the fact that they have two proven scorers in Dwyane Wade (18.7 ppg) and Chris Bosh (19.1 ppg) and a defense that ranks second in points allowed (96.0 ppg).
Boston Celtics +7500
Sure, the Celtics (28-22) might be a really long shot to upset anyone in the Eastern Conference, seeing as how they don’t have a single star player on their roster. Nevertheless, the C’s play every game to their full capabilities and rank a surprising fifth in scoring (104.6 ppg) and a solid 11th in points allowed (100.4 ppg) and have one of the best head coaches in the game today in Brad Stevens.
Houston Rockets +12500
I know the Rockets (26-25) have underachieved at a high rate this season (okay, they’re quitters) after reaching the Western Conference Finals last season, but this team is still brimming with explosive offensive talent starting with shooting guard James Harden (27.9 ppg). Unfortunately, the high-scoring Rockets (105.3 ppg, 4th) don’t play a lick of defense (106.5 ppg, 29th). Still, something abut this team just scares me!
Memphis Grizzlies +12500
No one is really talking about the Grizzlies (29-20) right now and it’s kind of understandable seeing as how they’ve gotten off to a fairly slow start while ranking just 26th in scoring (97.7 ppg). Still the Grizz rank sixth in points allowed (99.0 ppg) and have a trio of veteran stars in Mike Conley, Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol that can make game-changing plays in the postseason when the pace of play often slows to a crawl.