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2021-22 NBA predictions

Posted 10/21/21

At I write this on Monday, the NBA is set to tip off, with a multitude of headlines from the offseason with players moving and the ongoing debacles with Ben Simmons and Kyrie Irving.

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2021-22 NBA predictions

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At I write this on Monday, the NBA is set to tip off, with a multitude of headlines from the offseason with players moving and the ongoing debacles with Ben Simmons and Kyrie Irving.

It appears for the time being that the Simmons saga in Philadelphia has settled down, but the Irving situation — with him not receiving the vaccine — is ongoing; he is set to miss at least half the season and the playoffs, depending on how far the Nets go in the east.

How will this season end up? Milwaukee is coming off a championship run that saw Giannis Antetokounmpo win his first ring — and he has the potential to follow that up with another.

However, winning back-to-back championships is difficult with only the Warriors and Heat doing it in the last decade.

With Irving likely to miss most of the season with no exemption in sight for him to play in Brooklyn, the Bucks have a strong case to return to the finals as Eastern Conference champions.

However, most of the east got better this year, not worse.

   

15. Orlando Magic

Let’s start at the bottom of the conference. There I have the Orlando Magic, who have finally committed to the tank and traded away Nikola Vucevic after nine seasons and low seeded playoff appearances. Should Cole Anthony make a second-year jump or the rookies play better than expected, they could contend for a play-in position. Predicted record: 17-65

   

14. Washington Wizards

Losing Russell Westbrook hurts the Wizards both offensively and defensively. Expect them to take a step back from play-in with Bradley Beal being the only scoring option. Predicted record: 19-63

   

13. Detroit Pistons

The Pistons got the No. 1 pick in Cade Cunningham, who should be worth a multiple win increase for Detroit. Detroit’s season hinges on how Cade translates to the NBA, and if Saddiq Bay and Isaiah Stewart make second-year jumps. I have not been the highest on Cunningham coming out of college, but Luke Garza may be the steal of the draft in the second round. Predicted record: 23-59

   

12. New York Knicks

This is where things get difficult in the east. I know the Knicks just came off of a season where they finished fourth, but I feel there is a regression coming overall for the team this season. Predicted record: 29-53

   

11. Charlotte Hornets

Lamelo Ball proved he can be a star for the Hornets and is a building block for the future. However, I feel as if the Hornets will be lucky to get a whole season out of Gordon Hayward and will see a step back from last year, missing out on the play-in by one spot. Predicted record: 34-48

   

10. Cleveland Cavaliers

I believe that the Cavaliers have addressed different issues that they have encountered in recent years. Crowded rotations in the front and back courts may lead to issues regarding growth, but Collin Sexton is in a contract year and will look to earn a large contract heading into his restricted free agent off-season. Predicted record: 36-46

   

9. Indiana Pacers

The Pacers are in the same scenario that the Magic and Pistons have been in for years. They are stuck in a limbo at the bottom half of the playoffs and need to make a decision between Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner going forward. Predicted record: 38-44

   

8. Toronto Raptors

The Raptors shocked the draft when they took Scottie Barnes at No. 4 overall instead of Jalen Suggs to replace the departed Kyle Lowry. The Raptors will improve from their injury prone season but a stacked eastern conference puts them at the bottom of the playoff picture. Predicted record: 40-42

   

7. Chicago Bulls

The addition of Lonzo Ball certainly should help the Bulls tremendously on defense as they have been statistically at the bottom of the league for years. Him, the Demar Derozan signing along with a full year of Lavine and Vucevic should help the bulls be the top of the play-in picture. Predicted record: 43-39

   

6. Miami Heat

Two years removed from a finals run, the Heat need to find their identity with Kyle Lowry, the team will be incredible defensively but offensive inefficienies may be this team’s downfall. Predicted record: 47-35

   

5. Boston Celtics

The Celtics were inconsistent to no end and underperformed with the talen they have. Adding Al Horford back to the team with Enes Kanter should help Robert Williams down low as the Celtics will bounce back from their disappointing 2020-21 campaign. Predicted record: 49-33

   

4. Philadelphia 76ers

This team is very difficult to predict. If things do not work and Ben Simmons gets traded, then they fall a couple spots, depending on the return value. But if Simmons finally gains confidence to shoot, then this team could re-claim the No. 1 spot like last year. Predicted record: with Simmons 53-29, without 41-41

   

3. Brooklyn Nets

Again, like the 76ers this team is difficult to predict because of Kyrie Irving. The big 3 is unlikely to play half of their regular season games together, which will impact the team by at least eight wins. Without Kyrie 54-28, with 62-20

   

2. Atlanta Hawks

Trae Young should continue to develop and if he plays like he did in the playoffs this last year this team may contend for the top spot in the conference. Predicted record: 56-26

   

1. Milwaukee Bucks

Giannis will continue to dominate and continues to show confidence in his jump shot as the seasons go on. If this team stays healthy I see them continuing to be the top team as long as the 76ers and the Nets have conflicting situations. Predicted record: 64-18

   

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Do not judge me on the western conference, as this conference is an absolute mess year in and year out.

   

15. Oklahoma City

This is my most confident pick, despite the rising star power of Shai Gilgeous-Alexander being able to carry this team to some wins, they are definitely in rebuilding mode with 36 picks over the next seven years. Predicted record: 18-64

   

14. Houston Rockets

Jalen Green is my favorite pick coming out of this draft and will likely be the primary scorer for the Rockets with them seeking out trade options for John Wall. Do not expect incredible shooting splits as Green is a catch and shoot type player and will shoot at will.

Predicted record: 22-60

   

13. Sacramento Kings 

This team does not seem to understand how to build around De’Aaron Fox and that will again be the downfall of this team that has not made the playoffs in 16 years. Luke Walton is also a candidate to be fired after this year if he does not find a way to make this a dynamic fast paced team. Predicted record: 27-55

   

12. San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs could be bottom of the league, but Gregg Popovic alone will not let this team fall entirely to the bottom of the league, but they will just miss out on the play-in game. Predicted record: 30-52

   

From this point on, anything can happen in the west.

    

11. New Orleans Pelicans

Zion Williamson is set to miss the first month of the season with an injury, and his offensive production will be missed. He and Brandon Ingram need to make strides once he returns if they have any hope of contending for the playoffs. Predicted record: 33-49

   

10. Minnesota Timberwolves

This team went on a decent run to end the year once all of D’Angelo Russell, Anthony Edwards and Karl-Anthony Towns played together. Their defensive efficiancy may not be near the top of the league but their offensive production should propel them to a play-in. Predicted record: 38-44

   

9. Los Angeles Clippers

This may hurt Clippers fans, but Kawhi Leonard set to be out for most of the season will regress this team significantly. Paul George should have the opportunity to carry this team to the point where when Kawhi returns they can make a push in the play-in and be a dangerous low seeded team. Predicted record: 41-41

   

8. Memphis Grizzlies 

Ja Morant is the cornerstone of this team and will continue to lead them. Jaren Jackson Jr. will make his full return from injury and will help this team to the play-in game. Not a knock on the Grizzlies, it is just such a difficult western conference that they will not be expected to be higher than No. 8. Predicted record: 43-39

   

7. Portland Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum need to make a deep playoff run, or the duo needs to be broken up. A likely trade destination for Ben Simmons may elevate this team if they trade McCollum for him, but as it stands I see this team as the best team in the play-in. Predicted record: 44-38

   

6. Denver Nuggets

Coming off of his MVP season, Nikola Jokic will have to carry this team on his back as his dynamic duo partner Jamal Murray has no set timetable to return at this time from his torn ACL. Predicted record: 46-36

   

5. Golden State Warriors

Steph Curry will again have to carry the workload early on as Klay Thompson is not set to return from his multiple years of injuries until December. Once Thompson comes back if he is close to his old self, this team will make a push toward a top four spot in the conference if James Wiseman makes any significant jump in his second year. Predicted record: 48-34

   

4. Dallas Mavericks

Luka Doncic is the future of the NBA at the point guard position opposite Trae Young. Entering in to his fourth year and a max contract extension inked, Doncic will look to elevate his game further. If he gets any help from Kristaps Porzingis and they can find their offensive form from two years ago watch out for this team. Predicted record: 50-32

  

3. Phoenix Suns

Fresh off of a finals run, Chris Paul, Devin Booker and Deandre Ayton will look to run it back as Paul enters into the twilight of his career. Ayton on the other hand did not receive a contract extension offer from the Suns before the deadline, so he will have everything to play for this year. Predicted record: 53-39

   

2. Utah Jazz

The Jazz are one of the most consistent teams in this conference, and will look to continue that trend building off of their No. 1 seed last year. Predicted record: 55-27

  

1. Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers are one of the toughest teams to predict in the league. How will they shoot? How will they gel together? Can a team of this age and an injury prone Anthony Davis stay healthy? If they stay healthy this is one of the top teams in the league, and Lebron James led teams are nothing to understimate. This team could be No. 1 or all the way in the play-in just like last year. Predicted record: 58-24

    

Rookie of the year prediction: Jalen Green, Houston Rockets

Dark horse rookie of the year prediction: Alperen Sengun, Houston Rockets

Most improved player of the year prediction: Darius Garland, Cleveland Cavaliers

Dark horse most improved: Markelle Fultz, Orlando Magic

Sixth Man of the year prediction: Jordan Clarkson, Utah Jazz

Dark horse sixth man: Tyler Herro, Miami Heat

Defensive player of the year prediction: Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers

Dark horse defensive player of the year: Nerlens Noel, New York Knicks

Coach of the year: Nate McMillan, Atlanta Hawks

Dark horse coach of the year candidate: Billy Donovan, Chicago Bulls

Most Valuable Player: Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

Dark horse MVP: Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers

NBA champions: Los Angeles Lakers over Milwaukee Bucks in 6

Dark horse champions: Golden State Warriors

Don’t worry I will not be one of those writers that will not admit when he is wrong, I will revisit these predictions throughout the season and in the summer once the season ends in nine months.

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