The 2021-22 NBA season is coming and it’s time to dig out the crystal ball and look forward to what the 75th Anniversary season will bring.
10 NBA writers and editors for Sporting News put together their predictions for the season.
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Voters were asked to submit a top three for each award with five points awarded for a first-place vote, three points for a second-place vote, and one point for a third-place vote.
Let’s dive into the results:
Best player: Giannis Antetokounmue (39 points)
Will Giannis Antetokounmpo drive the momentum from the NBA Finals to the third best player award in four seasons? Our crew definitely thinks so. More than half of our voters chose the Greek Freak award while no other player received more than one first-place vote. If he brings the devices home, Antetokounmpo becomes only the 10th player to win the top 3 player. And to think, he won’t turn 27 until December. It’s also worth noting that none of our voters chose LeBron James to finish in the top three.
Votes (in points) are also received: Stephen Curry (15), Kevin Durant (13), Nikola Jokic (12), Luka Doncic (8), James Harden (2), Joel Embiid (1)
Rookie of the Year: Galen Green (36)
Usually, it’s not hard to tie a Rookie of the Year. Whoever sets the most stats wins the prize, regardless of team record or role. Our team loves Jalen Green who will surely get the brightest green light for any Rockets rookie in full rebuild mode.
Votes are also received: Kid Cunningham (28), Jalen Suggs (14), Scotty Barnes (7), Josh Gedi (4), Alperin Seungon (1)
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Sixth Man of the Year: Patty Mills (26)
The situation in Brooklyn… is weak! When Mills signed with the Nets, after a decade in San Antonio, most thought he would play the perfect veteran third guard off the bench behind James Harden and Kyrie Irving. With Irving in limbo, the stage is set for a potential career year for Mills, who suddenly looks like the most important free agent in the league.
Votes are also received: Jordan Clarkson (14), Tyler Hero (10), Therese Halliburton (8), Kevin Huerter (7), Danilo Gallinari (5), Kobe White (5), Bobby Portiez (5), Galen Bronson (4), Joe Ingles (3), Montrezel Harrell (3)
Coach of the Year: Steve Nash (27)
It takes an even, special temperament to navigate a Brooklyn locker room, and just as Nash would pull strings as a Hall of Fame bouncer, curling training would require a similarly delicate touch. It’s championship or bankruptcy in Brooklyn, yet Nash’s job requires much more than just rolling the ball to allow Durant, Harden and Irving to cook. Throw in leaving key assistants Mike D’Antoni and Em Odoka and the sophomore coach will occupy his hands.
Votes are also received: Eric Spoelstra (25), Michael Malone (15), Monty Williams (9), Steve Kerr (5), Amy Odoka (4), Tyrone Lowe (4), Billy Donovan (1)
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Eastern Conference Champion: Brooklyn Nets
Nine members of our 10-man team picked the net to get out of the East in one vehicle with defending champion Bucks. Regardless of last year’s title and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s rise to legendary status, the feeling is that the Nets have plenty of talent.
But as the saying goes, the best ability is availability and networking ultimately depends on the star trio seeing the floor together at match time. The Bucks that lifted the Larry O’Brien Cup are a better and more experienced team than the team that moved up by Brooklyn in the playoffs last year.
votes: Brooklyn 9, Milwaukee 1
Western Conference Champion: Los Angeles Lakers
Welcome to the Wild West. The Suns may have emerged victorious from the battle of attrition last year, but injuries to Anthony Davis, Cowhi Leonard, Jamal Murray, Clay Thompson and Mike Conley Jr. have cast doubt on Phoenix’s enduring claim to the conference throne.
Although more than half of our team members chose the Lakers to win the West, wise advice is to take a wait-and-see approach. What if Leonard came back and the Clippers looked again like a conference class? What if Thompson’s comeback re-ignites the Golden State? What if Murray rebounded from a torn ACL to give Denver the most complete team in the NBA? The Lakers may be the front-runner amidst the uncertainty, but the health, seniors roster and Russell Westbrook’s merger keep them far from locked.
votes: Lakers 6, Suns 2, Nuggets 1, Clippers 1
NBA Champion: Brooklyn Nets
- Miami LeBron vs Oklahoma City KD 2012.
- Cleveland LeBron vs Golden State KD in 2017 and 2018.
- Does LeBron vs Brooklyn KD in 2022?
The fourth edition of the game’s two superstars playing in the league’s two biggest markets looks like this year’s blockbuster summer event in waiting. With apologies to the Bucks, that’s how we see this season playing with the majority of our team members picking the Nets to win everything.
Should LeBron and KD face off for the fourth time, there is a legitimate case to be made that they have become the greatest singles competition in the NBA ever, replacing the likes of Magic vs Bird or Russell vs Wilt. A Nets victory over the Lakers would also give Durant a 3-1 advantage over LeBron on the biggest stage, opening the door to countless hours of unanswered and turbulent controversy.
votes: Nets 8, Lakers 1, Bucks 1
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Five Bold Predictions
Using chalk is almost as fun as calling the shot a bold prediction. Although unlikely, here are five bold predictions to look out for this season.
1) The Trail Blazers’ leading playoff series has ended.
Last season, the Blazers He just slipped to earn the sixth seed for the West and avoided the Play-In Championship. With how many teams in the West have improved, specifically the Lakers and Warriors, I don’t know if Portland has done enough this season to be in the top six. It’s worth noting how the Blazers haven’t missed the playoffs since 2013; But in 2022, I see them finish between eight and ten and go out at Play-In. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are great, but they won’t be enough this year.
– Jill McGregor (MustafaHosny Oh God, Amen)
2) The Miami Heat will finish #1 in the Eastern Conference
While most of the noise in the East surrounds the Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks, the Miami Heat have quietly put together a roster capable of passing on to any team on any given night.
The additions of Kyle Lowry, PJ Tucker and Markiv Morris, along with Jimmy Butler, Pam Adebayo, Duncan Robinson and Tyler Hero, give the Heat one of the most powerful seven-man maneuvers, as well as a fantastic chance for success in the regular season. Whether this leads to a deep playoff is another thing, but the Heat will win many games this season.
– Benyam Kidan (Tweet embed)
3) Zion Williamson will lead the NBA in scoring
Zion came close last season, finishing eighth in scoring with an average of 27.0 points—wait for it—17.0 shots per game. It really is Most dominant paintball scorer in the league He says he has expanded his range in the off-season, which he should terrifies the rest of the league. He obviously needs to stay healthy, but a slightly better version of Zion we saw last season might be enough to reclaim the scoring title.
– Scott Rafferty (Tweet embed)
4) The Lakers will lead the NBA in technical errors
Offseason additions Dwight Howard (16) and Russell Westbrook (14) were among League leaders in technical errors Last season. LeBron James is never shy about expressing his complaints, and neither is Frank Vogel. Do you really think Rajon Rondo won’t wake up many times? Yes, the fans seated inside the Staples Center will hear a lot of whistles.
– Jordan Greer (@jordangerer42)
5) Devin Booker Will Win 2021-22 NBA MVP
Let’s raise the temperature a little. Give me the 24-year-old Booker to win the Player of the Year award.
After his impressive post-season debut, Booker will be hungry to try to make his way back to the NBA Finals stage and all signs point to his continued improvement as one of the best young players in the league. If the Suns have the best record in the Western Conference and Booker plays at the same level we saw in the 2021 playoffs, he will definitely get attention. The question then becomes: Can he convince voters that he deserves the award more than his backyard teammate Chris Paul?
– Kyle Irving (MustafaHosny Oh God, Amen)
Odds of winning the 2021-22 NBA Championship
|Los Angeles Lakers||+400|
|Golden State Warriors||+1200|
|Los Angeles Clippers||+1600|
|Portland Trail Blazers||+8000|
|New Orleans Pelicans||+10000|
|New York Knicks||+10000|
|San Antonio Tottenham||+24000|
|Oklahoma City Thunder||+25000|