2021-22 NBA Season

phoopes

I did it again
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Noticed the thread hadn’t been made yet so I figured I’d do it.

Topics to discuss: Fuck Ben Simmons

There are others but I’m a salty Sixers fan so I’ll let y’all think of the rest
 
I was initially rationalizing kyrie leaving boston for the nets. I putting on a happy face and all that, trying to look on the bright side. But of course I would’ve kept the superstar if he wanted to stay here.

But now? LMAO good riddance you “enlightened” anti-vaxxer.
 
Lost my word document at work that had regular nba regular season predictions. Guess I'll just post it after opening night this year. I'm sure y'all don't strike me as someone to modify predictions over two games.
 
Some predictions:

Playoff Seedings

East

1 Hawks
2 Bucks
3 Sixers
4 Nets
5 Celtics
6 Heat
7 Wizards
8 Bulls

Just miss: Knicks, Pacers, Hornets

West

1 Nuggets
2 Clippers
3 Jazz
4 Warriors
5 Suns
6 Lakers
7 Mavs
8 Blazers

Just miss: Grizz, Wolves

Assorted thoughts:

  • Joel Embiid wins MVP
  • Jalen Green wins ROTY
  • Lakers and Heat sneak in as lower seeds but cause a lot of noise and maybe a few upsets
  • Morant, RJ Barrett and LaMelo all hit stardom but their teams are still a year or two away
  • Hawks steamroll the regular season but still can’t quite break through in the playoffs
  • Ben Simmons ends up in Sacramento
  • Raptors trade Siakim
  • Cavs trade Sexton
  • Bucks make the Finals again out of the East
  • Clippers or Warriors make the Finals out of the West
  • New look Bulls fail to impress
  • Dame stays with the Blazers… for now
  • Suns take a step back
  • Porzingis returns to form but the Mavs still can’t hit the next level
  • Zion’s weight starts to impact his play
  • Wizards have a decent season with the new cast around Beal and use Rui/Deni as trade chips to make upgrades
  • Spurs finish with the NBAs worst record and get the top pick
 
The NBA season begins anew once more along its regular timeline of a Fall start and a Summer finish. Last season’s storyline was riddled with injuries, covid protocols mucking up line-ups, and essentially a compact season a good portion of players not being able to hold up their bodies long enough to sustain efficient play. This season brings a massive coaching change to seven organizations, key players like Ben Simmons and Kyrie Irving missing out on teams who have championship expectations, and an exciting rookie class who excelled in the Summer League. There’s a larger pool of contenders as well as simply competitively good teams. There’s a lot to unravel, and I’m going to begin with the western conference this year.

Los Angeles Lakers
Golden State Warriors
Dallas Mavericks
Utah Jazz
Phoenix Suns
Denver Nuggets


The top dogs of the western conference is pretty stacked this year. Realistically, you can put these in absolutely any order you want. All these teams have an argument for a top seed.

I choose Dallas to be my hottest take off the list to make it here. They have a new coach in Jason Kidd who, while I understand had issues early on in Milwaukee and Brooklyn, has seem to grow from being around Los Angeles Lakers’ staff. He also seems to have a strong relationship with the young generational talent in in Luka Doncic. The pre-season had Doncic posting up more and prioritizing paint points. I factor in a new coach, new style of play, and a possible healthier Porzingis to make them break the west first round barrier they’ve been kept under since they managed to play the same playoff team two years in a row. If this organization can just have everything go right, expect Dallas to have an amazing season no one expects. Except me.

Golden State looks promising, but I gotta stop myself. Thompson is only projected to return around January, and while he had an Achilles tendon injury like Durant who came back in amazing form, Thompson is a different player. Additionally, he re-injured himself before returning from the Achilles. So, if anyone has Golden State being really good this regular season, you have to believe more in the people around Curry and Draymond than hoping Thompson comes in and saves the day. This roster lives and dies by the supporting cast at this rate.

The good news is that I believe in that supporting cast. Jordan Poole somehow looks to be the second coming of Jamal Crawford, Wiseman gets another year under his belt, and Kaminga looked like an incredibly impressive rookie. Then, factor in the fact that Kerr spent the majority of last year trying to develop rookies as opposed to the last month of the season in which they just gave Curry the ball and got the fuck out of the way. This year, they have another training camp and have plans to forego rookie development which should easily thrust them into the playoffs at least. If they are somehow worse than last year outside of major injuries, I’ll be shocked.

Utah doesn’t have too many changes. Their priority should be to get better playing small line-ups or for Gobert NOT become an offensive liability. Gotta see it to believe it, but they have been a good regular season team in the last few years, and the last playoff defeat stung bad. I anticipate a great effort from Mitchell and Gobert, and continued assimilation of Conley in their offense. Don’t expect much unless Rudy Gay is making an impact somehow at the five.

Phoenix shored up their areas of weakness of depth at the five and general lack of rebounding. JaVale McGee, Elfrid Payton, and Shamet are solid additions. For Phoenix to be successful at a revenge tour throughout the regular season from the Finals, we need to see continued internal improvement and success from any of the following: Devin Booker, Cameron Payne, Mikal Bridges, and Deandre Ayton. This team was incredibly balance and well-coached last year. I do not see that as a fluke at all, and do not anticipate them getting worse in any way.

Paul is another year older, so you want to see the younger guys take the next step. Booker and Ayton must carry more games than Paul had to last year. If those guys are better and more impactful, Phoenix can get a top spot.

Denver is likely to have home court once again coming off our first center MVP since Shaq. Even without Murray, Jokic's numbers are actually better. Gordon gets a training camp and more time to build chemistry, Jeff Green is a solid bench addition, and Porter Jr. Is expected to greatly improve after his contract extension. I say this team's ceiling is all about Porter Jr. this year. If he and Jokic are healthy, they should be top four again.

Los Angeles Lakers… I do not have much faith in. Will they make the playoffs? Sure. Will they be a top seed? No guarantee.

Westbrook is my main reason, and it should go without saying. The main argument for Los Angeles' status as a contender rest on what we've said for years now: LeBron and AD are too good and too smart not to figure it out. We've primarily relied on this for year after year since LeBron joined the league, but there will be a time where LeBron is no longer dominant. There will be a time where he just doesn't have it anymore. LeBron slowly but surely is playing less games and getting more injured. AD playing center for extended minutes throughout the regular season when historically he is not conditioned to do so is a stretch too. I mean, he can condition himself that way, but he has still never done it.

Westbrook cannot be the main point guard for this team under no circumstances which confuses me as to why LeBron favored bringing him. Was the point for LeBron to take a backseat at the guard or not? Is Westbrook capable of being an effective player without the ball in his hands?

The team also lacks defense on the perimeter. They have decent shooters like Carmelo and Monk but must trade in accuracy for defense if they're bringing in more above-average defenders. It's not like they have a defender as good as both KCP and Caruso.

I just don't like this roster. It's old. Westbrook is a turnover machine and does not make LeBron's mental labor any easier. AD is probably the brightest spot but is likely to get banged up playing center more in the regular season. The supporting cast are a bunch of one-dimensional specialists. Their regular season is not projected to be a good one by me, and I get sick of the narrative that LeBron can do anything.

Los Angeles Clippers
Memphis Grizzlies
Portland Trailblazers
Minnesota Timberwolves


Minnesota is very interesting. Karl-Anthony Towns has suffered great family losses with covid, and I figure he is likely hardened and focused after the experience. A focused, hardened Towns sounds like a recipe for a breakout season. Minnesota could go places with a strong showing from Towns, an improved Anthony Edwards, and a healthy D'Angelo Russell. Heck, maybe even Beverly being around rubs off on the team.

This core could honestly make the playoffs together. They just need good health and an average defense. Towns by himself can be a stellar offense. I believe the team has the talent to do it; they just need a full healthy season clicking together. I will be very interested in seeing how Towns plays.

Memphis is another team with additions and possible internal improvement. Morant is shooting off-the-dribble threes; not a good percentage, but the attempts on their own are encouraging. Jaren Jackson Jr. Just got his four-year extension, so if he is healthy, that gives this team another bump. I was never particularly high with Adams, but he did do well with Westbrook. Morant is slightly more polished, so I expect them to be good together. Dillon Brooks is a physical guard who can play off ball.

With enough internal improvement from Brooks, Jackson Jr., and Morant, that is a solid core. They are honestly a few years away from being legit in my eyes. They are nowhere near the bottom, they aren't a top threat, but are good enough to improve in the standings.

Portland is a mystery, truly. They haven't had a great regular season for a few years, but why wouldn't they be improved? They have a more fortified frontline assuming Nurkic will be healthy. When Nurkic is healthy and contributing, this team is playoff worthy. It's questionable if players like Zeller and Nance Jr. make the difference they need to.

How much better is Billups more than Stotts? I am not sure if a first-time coach can be all that much better than who you had for years and years with the same meddling results. Maybe Billups can throw out more versatile line-ups defensively. If this team can just find a solid and average defensive identity, stay healthy, and avoid drama, they will make it. Last season they made it in spite of many key injuries.

Los Angeles Clippers will be interesting to see only because they don't have Kawhi. George is probably angling to prove he still has it, and George and this roster if they play pesky small line-ups can still make the playoffs. Now, I don't think anyone should exclusively go off their playoff showing to judge their regular season. Regular season is a grind that is incredibly hard to play small in for long stretches, and any injury to George makes them done for since Kawhi likely will be out all regular season. I don't find them to be a safe bet for the playoffs, but they will still be a good team; however, without the small-ball gimmick that many coaches around the league saw on national TV and likely have a plan for, do they have a plan B if switching everything isn't working? I have them on the tail end of the play-in group only because I feel as talented as they are, they are depending much more on isolation, hot shooting, and the newness of their switch-everything gimmick. They also have a history of shitting the bed randomly in regular season games. Something about this team just makes me hesitant to trust them if their best player is not there all year.

New Orleans Pelicans
Sacremento Kings
San Antonio Spurs


New Orleans is at it again… Zion comes back to camp with a mystery surgery and injury, they hire a new coach, trade for Valančiūnas, and signed DeVonte’ Graham. I’ve been trying to make a case for this team to make the playoffs, but it’s a hard case to make compared to the teams I ranked above them. Zion seems to have injuries and surgeries every year. It is truly making it difficult to keep him on the floor. If he has improved defensively as well as Ingram, they can go places, but I have my doubts on where they go without a better Zion. The real question Zion must face is: Can you play the center? Can you defend the rim? If you can’t, who the heck are you as a player? DeVonte’ Graham could have a breakout year, but that can’t be the only positive thing for your team. I suppose this team will ebb and flow with how well Ingram carries, how good of a coach Willie Green is in establishing a winning culture, and if Zion figures out his niche in the NBA. I don’t think these things all come together this year unfortunately.

Sacremento has promise with its three-headed talented guards in Fox, Haliburton, and Mitchel. Sacremento had an above average offensive rating last year but ranked last defensive rating. Is a rookie defensive guard enough to take them to the playoffs? Doubtful. I feel Fox and Hield had more than enough internal development and have been surrounded by enough okay-ish veterans to make pushes, but it has yet to happen. I am once again bearish on Sacremento. Perhaps Mitchel starts a defensive culture and identity worthy of a playoff team in the western conference, but that is a big wish.

San Antonio lacks oomph, and I know that’s weird to say in today’s day and age. I think the last couple of years are starting to show that Popovich can’t be your solution to everything. The playoff streak for Popovich is long dead, they have no star, and they just now seem to be a meddling, young team. Now that DeRozan is also gone, more of the possessions will have to be up to Derrick White and Dejounte Murray. Are they capable big minute ballhandlers under the great Popovich? I mean, I figure if DeRozan couldn’t take this team to the playoffs, I’m certainly not hedging my bets on these guys even with Popovich coaching. I mean, that’s kinda what it would have to take. A healthy Collins, Young, and Poeltl is a decent start for at least an average defense. I don’t know if you can be average and get in the playoffs anymore. Popovich even throughout that playoff streak still had at least one all-star veteran player on those teams. The only way I see San Antonio sneaking in is if one of these guards have a breakout season. This team is young and just trying to develop something.

Now for the eastern conference!

Milwaukee Bucks
Brooklyn Nets


Milwaukee and Brooklyn are equally top favorites from the East. Giannis comes back with a new jumpshot in preseason. They lost PJ Tucker and thus their ability to play Giannis at the five for longer stretches with four shooters. I think that can be mended with a trade or veteran minimum later in the season. I feel this team really grew together in the last playoffs and it will benefit their overall structure and comradery in a way we may not have seen in a long time with a team. They still have the same core players who literally struggled game after game in the playoffs for years. They all have scars together now. So, if they are healthy (and they were barely healthy in the playoffs honestly), they should still maintain their top position in the East.

Brooklyn on the other hand seems primed to at least be better than they were last season even with Kyrie missing. They still signed Patty Mills, Cam Thomas looks AMAZING, and Paul Millsap is a solid veteran for the frontline. Durant and Harden are more than enough to make the playoffs in the East much less a top spot. Anticipate Harden to have a better year possibly due to Kyrie’s absence. He is embracing the point guard role and will likely be much healthier this time around. We haven’t seen much of Harden healthy and not actually carrying the offensive load for many stretches. That’s really the best argument you can have for a Brooklyn improvement even without Kyrie. Adding Kyrie is icing at this point. Their weakness still is in their size and rebounding on the frontline but at least it’s not overall depth.

Miami Heat
Philadelphia 76ers


Miami is internally strong and versatile. They just lack the obvious flair of other teams. Butler, Bam, and Lowry is a great start. The signings of recent champions in Lowry, Morris, and Tucker tells me that culturally and emotionally, they are all in. Their young guys in Robinson and Herro are extremely talented and are still projected to get better. This team mirrors your prototypical championship veteran team managed by Pat Riley.

Trading Lowry for Dragic sounds even to me. This team’s potential in the regular season to me is all about Bam’s improvement. Was 2020 in the bubble a fluke or is this guy really for real? I place them a notch below Milwaukee and Brooklyn. I want to see this team prove that 2020 in the bubble wasn’t a fluke, and they just aren’t some perpetually under seeded team that flames out every other year. If Bam can hit another level, I actually like them coming out of the east in the playoffs.

Philadelphia has issues. I’m not even just referring to Ben Simmons. For one, without Ben Simmons, they effectively don’t have a trustworthy point guard. Maxey is a solid young player, but do you trust him to manage ballhandling duties over the course of a regular season? This team even with Simmons was turnover prone. The second issue is that this roster really didn’t… get all that better. Maybe some internal improvement from their younger players is beneficial, but until they get something for Simmons, I don’t expect this team to be as close to the top as they were in last year’s regular season.

I genuinely feel even an MVP-level Embiid wouldn’t be able to get them a top spot. They’ll make the playoffs okay I hope, but the loss of Simmons really cuts their guard play and perimeter defense. If they can manage that, still have a healthy Embiid, and play a great defense without Simmons, they shouldn’t fall too far, but I would still expect them to fall as it stands now. We will see how valuable Simmons was to this team.

Atlanta Hawks
Boston Celtics
Chicago Bulls


Atlanta had a strong showing in the playoffs, and their roster is loaded with young talent. McMillan is a veteran coach and Young *should* improve somewhat. My only concern however is with the new referee rule changes, how does that affect Young’s offense? He will undoubtedly take a hit. They should also receive a boost in depth that wasn’t seen in the playoffs. I think this team should still hover around 3-6. It seems these guys are coming together and finally have an identity around a veteran coach. Young just needs to successfully adapt to the rule change which might take some time. Otherwise, they have all the tools to be successful: a young star and veteran coach who seems to get along, athleticism, defensive swingmen, and shooting.

Boston is a bit of a mystery to me right now. Last year’s regular season and playoffs felt like a flaming out. Boston just hasn’t had it for a couple of years now. Was that due to coaching? Injuries? Depth? How good of a coach is Udoka? This team could either surprise us or struggle to get a guaranteed playoff spot again.

Tatum and Brown getting better is a plus, but it hasn’t translated to the overall team yet. Perhaps with a new coach, a solid back-up point guard, and a returning veteran in Horford, they can re-establish some decent success. In which case that would set them at least to get maybe a 5 or 6. Possible play-in range at their lowest. Williams, aka the time lord, is a great x-factor and his development will be interesting as a big man. If he improves, Boston should be fine to make the playoffs.

Chicago is hard to figure out. For one thing, it’s the East. You don’t necessarily have to be *that* good to get in the playoffs. However, the defensive combination of DeRozan and Vucevic is atrocious and it’s unlikely they get to a team defense rating above 20th.

They can make up for it with their defensive players on the perimeter; is that a good formula, though? Are Caruso and Lonzo enough to make up for Vucevic and DeRozan? I consider Chicago a likely play-in team. Some people have them above that range which is totally possible, but I’m bearish on Lonzo and Caruso making that much of an impact. My opinion on where I rank the bulls before the season starts has more to do with how I view the field of the East than Chicago themselves. Perhaps a great enough offense can make you a top 5 seed. They also certainly have a lot of pressure with Zach Lavine being a free agent next year. Meh, I’ll give ‘em a chance to hang around this tier, but I certainly haven’t placed them as overall better team than anyone mentioned thus far.

New York Knicks
Toronto Raptors
Indiana Pacers
Washington Wizards


I’m currently a bit lower on New York although I probably shouldn’t be. A healthy Kemba is probably all this team needs to stay where they were last year. This team had an incredible defense in the regular season, but their offense was so heavily dependent on Randle. I don’t anticipate Randle getting significantly better because in all likelihood, his offense last season was likely a fluke if you just compare the drastic difference in percentage from round 1 in the playoffs to the regular season.

All Thibs would need to do is keep the defense rolling, keep Kemba healthy, and internally improve the younger players. Thibs is notorious for being bad with younger players, however. Maybe RJ Hampton becomes an improved shooter? If Kemba is unhealthy or is not dynamic at all, expect New York to struggle to get in.

Toronto has nice wing depth. Moving to Tampa really put a damper on the organization last season. Combine it with a horrible start, and it would have been a miracle if they clawed their way back into the ranks.

Siakim isn’t going to start playing early, so it’s still possible for them to get on a slow start. Anunoby looked new and improved in the preseason, Barnes is an impressive rookie of the year candidate, and Nurse is still a fantastic coach. VanVleet will get his first crack at being a point guard without Lowry; hopefully he starts over Dragic who is, in my eyes, as good as Lowry although in different ways. VanVleet I’ve loved for years and totally believe in his capabilities as a starter. Their offense will struggle, so Siakim is needed if they want to make it in. He just must find some type of offensive rhythm as a focal point. Expect them to be on the hinges of play-in territory.

Indiana has the best coaching change in the league after their mutiny last season. They have all the reason to improve and even be grouped with the tier above this. Carlisle is an excellent x’s and o’s coach who always gets the best out of his group; especially if they are humble guys. The coaching and roster symmetry couldn’t be any better. The question is: how good is the roster?

This roster sure has some defensive chops. Brogdon, Turner (if they decide to keep him), Craig, and Sabonis are solid defenders. A healthy Levert, Brogdon and Turner isn’t a bad offense. They can surely make it if one of the teams above them has an injury or underperforms. Overall, nothing really strikes me about this team as far as them being a shoo-in outside of their coach, but they almost made it with dysfunction anyhow. I imagine with Carlisle; they’ll be in the 6-10 mix undoubtedly.

Washington… I can see it, but I am not pushing for them. The great wildcard is how good Kuzma can be without LeBron and AD. He did show some spark when he was drafted a few years back, but his developed was effectively stunted. Dinwiddie is a great add and has been featured in a lot of decent playoff teams. They have great perimeter defenders in Hachimura and KCP.

It can work with a good system. Remember, it took Westbrook for them to make the play-in last year those last few games, any they don’t look like a team who can stomach a key injury. I think if you are a believer in the core of Beal, Kuzma, and Dinwiddie, you’d probably have them at least fighting for a play-in spot. Otherwise, I’ll pass.

Cleveland Cavaliers
Charlottle Hornets


Cleveland won’t make the playoffs, y’all… but they look fun! They need to figure out their frontline because they have a surplus. They need to trade Kevin Love for something. Markkanen is great offensively and probably found the right team who can back him up with a physical center. Rubio is a sneaky good signing because they finally have a capable veteran who might pass on things to help development of Sexton. They should improve, and maybe even threaten a play-in, but hold your horses.

LaMelo is a highlight reel in Charlotte, but unless Hayward can actually get on the floor and make an impact, I’m not penciling them to do anything. They have a great young core but still feel slightly behind the rest of the pack. If they have any success, it will hinge on LaMelo who I honestly feel is not yet at that level. He could prove me and wrong and totally could be, but the most they can manage is probably like last year’s results.

Most Valuable Player
: It’s tough to choose this year. I’ve wavered between Doncic, Antetokounmpo, and Curry. Since Dallas is my hot take, if I predict them to jump, I think Doncic has the narrative advantage. Curry would probably be a close second.

Most Improved Player: Jordan Poole is the obvious choice. Kevin Porter can certainly win this as well. I hear the noise about Michael Porter Jr. but he’d have to make a steep jump since he’s miles ahead of the other candidates in talent as it is.

Sixth Man of the Year: Derrick Rose. Maybe Jordan Clarkson repeats.

Coach of the Year: Jason Kidd, but this is hard too. I only chose Jason Kidd because this usually goes to a coaching change that ends up being impactful, and Dallas has the best chance of doing that in my eyes. I could also see Steve Nash, Udoka, and Spoelstra.

Rookie of the Year: I favor Jalen Green. He has the greenlight down in Houston to do whatever he likes, he is more of a highlight reel, and seems to be the media’s favorite already. Cade Cunningham is a complete player who could be a generational talent, so I don’t look down on that pick as well. Really it comes down to who you think can get the most opportunity to flourish, because this rookie class is pretty crowded with talent.

Defensive Player of the Year: Draymond Green. Golden State will be this year, and a healthy Green makes this easy for me to pick over Gobert and Simmons. Jrue Holiday would honestly be my second choice and is a really cool sleeper.
 
Some predictions:

Playoff Seedings

East

1 Hawks
2 Bucks
3 Sixers
4 Nets
5 Celtics
6 Heat
7 Wizards
8 Bulls

Just miss: Knicks, Pacers, Hornets

West

1 Nuggets
2 Clippers
3 Jazz
4 Warriors
5 Suns
6 Lakers
7 Mavs
8 Blazers

Just miss: Grizz, Wolves

Assorted thoughts:

  • Joel Embiid wins MVP
  • Jalen Green wins ROTY
  • Lakers and Heat sneak in as lower seeds but cause a lot of noise and maybe a few upsets
  • Morant, RJ Barrett and LaMelo all hit stardom but their teams are still a year or two away
  • Hawks steamroll the regular season but still can’t quite break through in the playoffs
  • Ben Simmons ends up in Sacramento
  • Raptors trade Siakim
  • Cavs trade Sexton
  • Bucks make the Finals again out of the East
  • Clippers or Warriors make the Finals out of the West
  • New look Bulls fail to impress
  • Dame stays with the Blazers… for now
  • Suns take a step back
  • Porzingis returns to form but the Mavs still can’t hit the next level
  • Zion’s weight starts to impact his play
  • Wizards have a decent season with the new cast around Beal and use Rui/Deni as trade chips to make upgrades
  • Spurs finish with the NBAs worst record and get the top pick
Those are some bold predictions my guy with all due respect i dont think the hawks nor the nuggets will be a #1 seed. The hawks havent improved a ton since last season imo other than they are a young team but so are the bulls and heat.

nuggets have no bench basically.
 
i still have GS winning west, i dont think any team up in east now will win it. Nets with bucks getting 4th maybe. sixers and 1 rando team gets home court. sportsbetting3.com still has bucks 3rd faves!
 
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