The defending champion San Antonio Spurs and the rapidly rebuilt Cleveland Cavaliers are two obvious contenders for the N.B.A. championship. But to act as if those teams alone have a title chance is to ignore the bevy of entertaining teams out there that are just a step or two below the powerhouses.
The Spurs have the league’s most accomplished and, perhaps, best roster, while the Cavaliers acquired two of basketball’s biggest stars to go with their All-Star point guard. But on any given night those teams can be challenged for excitement and production by the Golden State Warriors and their sweet-shooting backcourt, the Washington Wizards and their youthful depth, and others. The Chicago Bulls are among the league’s best coached teams. The Memphis Grizzlies have a lunchbox-carrying ethos that has endeared them to their fans.