The 2016 NBA Finals only just completed, which means it's the perfect time for a way-too-early-look at the best teams for the 2017 NBA season. We're only looking at the top few teams here, and aren't bothering with trying to sort out the difference between the No. 23 and No. 18 teams.
Plenty can change between now and the start of the season, especially since the Draft and Free Agency have yet to start. This is simply an early look at a few of the early title contenders. With that in mind, here are the eight best teams headed into next season.
8. Boston Celtics
The Celtics were just fifth in the East last year, but we're projecting some improvement. They'll get somebody good (either via trade or by draft) with the No. 3 overall pick. Brad Stevens is one of the bets coaches in the league. The Celtics should only be better this year, pushing them past the potentially-rebuilding Hawks. They also jump the Heat, as Miami could lose more talent than they add this offseason.
7. Toronto Raptors
The Raptors gave the Cavs a bit of a run this year, but regression could be in store for Toronto. Kyle Lowry and Demar DeRozan clearly weren't enough and it's tough to see the Raptors adding a legit third option this year. Bismack Biyombo could very well leave in free agency. The Raptors could help themselves depending on what they're able to do with the No. 9 pick this year.
6. Portland Trail Blazers
The Trail Blazers impressed last year and their young core should only be better this season. I'm higher on Portland than most, but this team will fight for the No. 4 spot, or at least the No. 5 spot, in the talented West next year.
5. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers didn't win their playoff series last year, but injuries were to blame for that. They should be healthy and will once again be near the Top 4 in the West. There's a clear difference between the Clippers and the next team, but Los Angeles is still a very good team.
4. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are the first of the four clear-cut title threats. There isn't much separation between the top four, and the Spurs should feel good about their chances. While they need some bench help, the core of LaMarcus Aldridge and Kawhi Leonard isn't going anywhere.
3. Oklahoma City Thunder
This is dependent on Durant returning. If he leaves for another team, then the Thunder will drop. Until then, the No. 3 spot is theirs, although the Spurs aren't far behind.
2. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors are the Vegas favorites and for good reason. If they add Durant, or even another quality free agent (Al Horford?), they could take the top spot. But with the season only just over, another team deserves the top spot.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs are the reigning champs and we're not going to knock them from the top spot quite yet. That could change closer to the season, but for now, the Cavs are No. 1.