The Denver Nuggets have followed up their championship-winning season with another excellent campaign. Michael Malone's club has as good of a chance as anyone to hoist the Larry O'Brien Trophy once again, but the Boston Celtics could foil their plans this time around.

Popular pundit Bill Simmons predicts these two teams to face off in the NBA Finals, via The Bill Simmons Podcast. While simply picking the top teams from each conference isn't particularly spicy, he did have an unconventional take in regards to other Western Conference contenders. “The Ringer” CEO listed the Dallas Mavericks and Minnesota Timberwolves as the only other true contenders in the conference, surprisingly leaving out the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Los Angeles Clippers.

“I only think three teams from the West can make the finals. And I think Denver is going to make the finals, but Dallas and Minnesota would be the other two,” Simmons said. “I think that's it, I think that's the list. And then in the East, it’s Boston and then random wild card East, whoever makes the conference finals, you have to give them a puncher's chance. It's really four teams plus that East finalist. But for me it's Denver, Minnesota, Dallas.”

Is Simmons accurate, or is he sleeping on some seriously contending squads?

Bill Simmons is right to praise the Nuggets, but wrong to leave out the Clippers and Thunder

Denver Nuggets forward Peyton Watson (8) prepares to dunk ball in the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Timberwolves at Ball Arena.
© Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

It goes without saying that the Nuggets are the best in the West until proven otherwise. Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray have yet to miss a beat, and Jokic could easily win yet another MVP award this year. Mix in other shooting threats like Michael Porter Jr., and Denver may be too tough to beat once again.

The Timberwolves and Mavericks are certainly valid teams to get behind, though. With star big man Karl Anthony-Towns returning from his injury, Minnesota will be a tough out. The squad sports the NBA's top defensive rating, checking in at 108.7. Towns joining forces with Anthony Edwards and Rudy Gobert in the playoffs will result in headaches for opponents on both ends of the floor.

However, the Thunder are equally as dangerous. Speaking of dangerous trios, the young squad sports a three-headed monster of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Chet Holmgren and Jalen Williams. Gilgeous-Alexander is third in the league with 30.4 points per game, trailing only Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Doncic. Meanwhile, Holmgren has been the second-best rookie in the league next to Victor Wenbanyama. Additionally, they're tied for second in the West with Minnesota, and are only one game behind the Nuggets for first.

The Thunder's biggest weakness is their lack of experience, which is a legitimate concern. It always helps to have people who have been there before when the lights get bright. In fact, Oklahoma City came into the season as the league's youngest team.

However, their elite talent still gives them a shot, even against the most experienced opponents. The Thunder even lead the league with 17 comeback wins when trailing by double digits. They should certainly be considered in the same breath as the Mavericks, who trail them in the standings by five games.

Furthermore, while Dallas sports a formidable backcourt duo in Doncic and Kyrie Irving, they don't have much notable depth outside of that. Their only other player that averages double-digit points is Tim Hardaway Jr., with 14.6 per game. Oklahoma City's starting five all average double-digits, though, with Dort and Josh Giddey rounding out the dynamic lineup.

Meanwhile, the Clippers are finally fully healthy. The star-studded squad has always been a title contender since it assembled the duo of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, but the team has been slaughtered by the injury bug in recent years. With James Harden and Russell Westbrook now a part of the fray, Los Angeles is not a club that can or should be taken lightly. Sitting one game ahead of Dallas at the fourth seed, they at least deserve to be acknowledged as a legitimate threat.

While it's appropriate to acknowledge the Nuggets and Celtics as favorites, it's strange to put the Mavericks ahead of the Thunder and Clippers. However, time will tell if Bill Simmons' take will age like wine or milk.