The abbreviated NBA season has been somewhat of a surprise in certain cases, and I have a short list of true title contenders for June.
It breaks down quite easily between a two tiers - true contenders and pretenders.
Chicago: There really isn't anyone in the league that is in the class of the Bulls. With Derrick Rose injured, the Bulls still managed to keep pace and have the best record in the NBA. Look for them to be in the Finals this year.
Oklahoma City: A huge step forward from last year, the Thunder are playing extremely well on the road. As always Kevin Durant is a go to guy and they are sitting where everyone myself included expected them to be after last year's breakout. If they keep pace they should win the west.
Miami: There are some holes in this roster after the big three, which are relied upon by this team almost solely. I believe they will reach the conference finals but their true character will be tested in the clutch, and particularly LeBron James.
Los Angeles Lakers: I don't believe this needs an explanation. Despite LA's struggles this year they are still in a contending position, and still trump the Thunder in experience, and have a motivated Kobe Bryant on their side. If the role players step up, they could make some noise. Coach Brown is a great playoff coach.
Orlando: I don't believe Orlando is a true title contender this year, however there isn't anyone else in the Eastern Conference that can stop Dwight Howard. Ryan Anderson is dangerous from the outside. If Hedo Turkoglu can find his 2009 form they will make some noise as he is a very difficult player to defend. The Magic live and die by the three-pointer and if they don't go down, I see an early exit.
Boston: The Celtics continue to prove me wrong and modestly sit in the top half of the Eastern Conference yet again. If this team is healthy they will make some noise as their experience will trump any of Philadelphia, Atlanta, or Indiana.
San Antonio: I can't remember a time where the Spurs weren't competitive. Third in the NBA in point differential, 9-1 in their last 10, and the second best home record in the league. The Spurs will be a tough matchup for anyone in the west.
On the cusp:
Los Angeles Clippers: Beware the Clippers. As of now they are seeded against the champs and they will certainly have their hands full with the young talent on this team.
Dallas Mavericks: Don't count out the Mavericks, but I simply don't think they are going anywhere. I really dislike Lamar Odom's lack of drive on this team, and Dirk Nowitzki needs help if they are going to pull out another trophy.
Honourable mentions: Philadelphia. Playing inspired and loose basketball. Likely a first round exit, but an excellent bounce back season from the 76ers.
Should be another great June.