NBA predictions 2021-22: Final standings, playoff projections, awards, NBA Finals pick

The 2021-22 NBA season is upon us and it is time to get out the crystal ball and stay up for what the seventy fifth Anniversary season could have in retailer.

10 of Sporting News’ NBA writers and editors weighed in with their season predictions.

MORE: ​Ranking the best NBA players entering 2021-22 season

For particular person awards, voters had been requested to submit a prime three for every award with 5 factors awarded for a first-place vote, three factors for a second-place vote and one level for a third-place vote.

Let’s dive into the outcomes:

MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo (39 factors)

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Will Giannis Antetokounmpo experience the momentum from the NBA Finals to a 3rd MVP award in 4 seasons? Our employees actually thinks so. Greater than half of our voters picked the Greek Freak whereas no different participant acquired greater than a single first-place vote. Ought to he convey residence the {hardware}, Antetokounmpo would develop into simply the tenth participant to win three MVPs. And to suppose, he doesn’t flip 27 till December. It’s additionally value noting that none of our voters picked LeBron James to complete within the prime three.

Additionally receiving votes (factors): Stephen Curry (15), Kevin Durant (13), Nikola Jokic (12), Luka Doncic (8), James Harden (2), Joel Embiid (1)

Rookie of the Yr: Jalen Inexperienced (36)

(NBA Getty Photographs)

Usually, Rookie of the Yr isn’t that tough to peg. Whoever places up the largest stats wins the award, no matter staff document or function. Our panel likes Jalen Inexperienced who could have the brightest inexperienced mild of any rookie on a Rockets staff firmly in full rebuild mode. 

Additionally receiving votes: Cade Cunningham (28), Jalen Suggs (14), Scottie Barnes (7), Josh Giddey (4), Alperen Sengun (1)

MORE: Possible milestones that can be reached during 2021-22 NBA season

Sixth Man of the Yr: Patty Mills (26)


The scenario in Brooklyn is … tenuous! When Mills signed with the Nets, after a decade in San Antonio, most figured he would slot in as the right veteran third guard off the bench behind James Harden and Kyrie Irving. With Irving’s standing in limbo, the stage is about for a possible profession yr for Mills, who abruptly appears to be like like the one most necessary free-agent signing within the league.

Additionally receiving votes: Jordan Clarkson (14), Tyler Herro (10), Tyrese Haliburton (8), Kevin Huerter (7), Danilo Gallinari (5), Coby White (5), Bobby Portis (5), Jalen Brunson (4), Joe Ingles (3), Montrezl Harrell (3)

Coach of the Yr: Steve Nash (27)

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It takes a particular even-keeled temperament to navigate Brooklyn’s locker room and simply as Nash pulled the strings as a Corridor of Fame level guard, teaching the Nets would require a equally delicate contact. It’s championship or bust in Brooklyn, and but Nash’s job requires excess of merely rolling out the ball to let Durant, Harden and Irving cook dinner. Throw within the departures of lead assistants Mike D’Antoni and Ime Udoka and the second-year coach could have his fingers full.

Additionally receiving votes: Eric Spoelstra (25), Michael Malone (15), Monty Williams (9), Steve Kerr (5), Ime Udoka (4), Tyronn Lue (4), Billy Donovan (1)

MORE: Ranking new NBA head coaches: Which team made the best move?

NBA Playoff Predictions

Japanese Convention playoff groups

1. Brooklyn Nets
2. Milwaukee Bucks
3. Miami Warmth
4. Boston Celtics
5. Philadelphia 76ers
6. Atlanta Hawks
7. Indiana Pacers*
8. New York Knicks*
9. Chicago Bulls*
10. Toronto Raptors*

*play-in event

— Certain, Kyrie Irving’s scenario stays up within the air. However even with out Irving, Brooklyn struts into each sport with maybe two of the 5 most devastating offensive playmakers of all-time witih Kevin Durant and James Harden. Brooklyn additionally has sturdy depth within the frontcourt with Blake Griffin, Paul Millsap, James Johnson and Nic Claxton to not point out long-time Spurs bench ace Patty Mills. 

— Will the Bucks take it straightforward within the common season following final yr’s run to the title? Will they go after the No. 1 seed with the intention to safe residence court docket for a possible Sport 7 showdown with the Nets? Even when Milwaukee takes its foot of the gasoline, it is arduous to think about a situation exterior of accidents during which the Bucks end any worse than third within the common season.

— Whereas its a pointy drop-off following the Brooklyn-Milwaukee duo, our employees could be very excessive on Miami with seven of our 10 voters choosing them to complete third within the convention. For those who’re on the lookout for a staff to crash a possible Nets-Bucks ECF showdown, that is it. A serious query looming massive: which model of Tyler Herro reveals up?

— The 76ers are maybe the single-biggest wild card. Keep in mind, it was the 76ers — not the Bucks or Nets — who completed with the East’s greatest document final season. Will Ben Simmons play? What’s going to Philly get again in the event that they commerce him? Can Joel Embiid keep wholesome? Plenty of unknowns for the Sixers.

— Our employees is in all places with the Hawks. Half see the Japanese Convention Finals run as an indication of issues to return. The opposite half sees it as a mirage and chalks it as much as an odd, considerably fluky season. Working example? We’ve got them ending sixth within the East but they start the yr sixth in our overall league-wide power rankings. Insert big shrug emoji.

Western Convention playoff groups

1. Los Angeles Lakers
2. Phoenix Suns
3. Utah Jazz
4. Denver Nuggets
5. LA Clippers
6. Dallas Mavericks
7. Golden State Warriors*
8. Portland Path Blazers*
9. Memphis Grizzlies*
10. New Orleans Pelicans*

*play-in event

— The Lakers are prohibitive favorites to win the West. Does that imply they will end with the most effective document? That 0-6 preseason document would counsel a convincing no. However LeBron James feels as motivated as ever to show skeptics incorrect getting into his nineteenth season. And for all of his warts, Russell Westbrook ought to take some appreciable strain of James and Anthony Davis.

— Just like the Hawks within the Japanese Convention, the Suns are recieving essentially the most “was that actual?” skepticism. Can Chris Paul keep wholesome? Will Devin Booker leap from All-Star to All-NBA performer? Will the Suns pay Deandre Ayton? Can Mikal Bridges — who the Suns did pay — emerge as a extra constant high-level contributor? Will JaVale McGee repair the evident frontcourt gap off the bench?

— There is not a staff with a bigger ceiling to ground hole than the Golden State Warriors. Might they miss the playoffs? Sure. Might they emerge as a authentic contender to win the West? Completely. A lot is driving on Klay Thompson who has not performed in two full seasons. Not solely is he recovering from a torn Achilles, but additionally a torn ACL relationship again to the 2019 NBA Finals. What’s stopping groups from loading up on Stephen Curry and feeding him a constant food plan of double and triple groups?

— This appears like a big season for the New Orleans Pelicans who’re as soon as once more struggling to piece collectively a roster round a generational expertise. The season hasn’t even began and but the Pelicans season is already beginning to slip given the shock harm to Zion Williamson who will miss the beginning of the season as he continues to recuperate from foot surgical procedure.

Japanese Convention champion: Brooklyn Nets

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9 members of our 10-person panel picked the Nets to return out of the East with a lone holdout driving with the defending champion Bucks. No matter final yr’s title and Giannis Antetokounmpo’s ascent to legendary standing, the prevailing sentiment is that the Nets merely have an excessive amount of expertise.

However because the saying goes, the most effective capability is availability and the Nets are finally banking on their star trio seeing the ground collectively come playoff time. The Bucks staff that hoisted the Larry O’Brien Trophy is a greater and extra seasoned staff than the one which actually inched by a banged-up Brooklyn squad in final yr’s playoffs.

Votes: Brooklyn 9, Milwaukee 1

Western Convention champion: Los Angeles Lakers

(NBA Getty Photographs)

Welcome to the wild, wild West. The Suns could have emerged victorious from final yr’s battle of attrition however accidents to Anthony Davis, Kawhi Leonard, Jamal Murray, Klay Thompson and Mike Conley Jr. solid doubt on Phoenix’s lasting declare to the convention throne.

Although greater than half of our panel picked the Lakers to win the West, the prudent recommendation is to take a wait-and-see method. What if Leonard comes again and the Clippers as soon as once more appear to be the category of the convention? What if Thompson’s return reignites Golden State? What if Murray bounces again from a torn ACL to offer Denver the NBA’s most full staff? The Lakers could also be favorites amid the uncertainty, however well being, an ageing roster and the combination of Russell Westbrook make them removed from a lock.

Votes: Lakers 6, Suns 2, Nuggets 1, Clippers 1

NBA Champion: Brooklyn Nets

(Getty Photographs)

  • Miami LeBron vs Oklahoma Metropolis KD in 2012.
  • Cleveland LeBron vs Golden State KD in 2017 and 2018.
  • L.A. LeBron vs Brooklyn KD in 2022?

A fourth installment of the sport’s two iconic superstars taking part in within the league’s two largest markets feels just like the summer time blockbuster occasion of the yr in ready. With apologies to the Bucks, that’s how we see this season taking part in out with the vast majority of our panel choosing the Nets to win all of it.

Ought to LeBron and KD face off a fourth time, there’s a authentic case to be made that it turns into the NBA’s all-time best particular person rivalry, supplanting the likes of Magic vs Fowl or Russell vs Wilt. A Nets win over the Lakers would additionally give Durant a 3-1 edge over LeBron on the largest stage, opening the door for numerous hours of unanswerable and unhinged debate.

Votes: Nets 8, Lakers 1, Bucks 1

MORE: How biggest trades, free agency signings impact rosters for every team

5 daring predictions

Going chalk is sort of as enjoyable as calling your shot with a daring prediction. Nonetheless unlikely, listed below are 5 daring predictions to look out for this season.

1) The Path Blazers’ league-leading playoff streak involves an finish.

Final season, the Blazers simply slid by to earn the West’s sixth seed and keep away from the Play-In Event. With the quantity of groups within the West that bought higher, specifically the Lakers and Warriors, I do not know if Portland did sufficient this offseason to be a top-six seed. That is notable seeing how the Blazers haven’t missed the playoffs since 2013; however in 2022, I see them ending between eighth and tenth and bowing out within the Play-In. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum are nice, however they gained’t be sufficient this yr.

— Gil McGregor (@GMcGregor21)

2) The Miami Warmth will end with the No.1 seed within the Japanese Convention

Whereas many of the noise within the East surrounds the Brooklyn Nets, Philadelphia 76ers and Milwaukee Bucks, the Miami Warmth have quietly put collectively a roster able to taking it to any staff on any given evening. 

The additions of Kyle Lowry, P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris, alongside Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro give the Warmth one of many strongest seven-man rotations and an important shot at common season success. Whether or not this can end in a deep playoff run is one other factor, however the Warmth are going to win quite a lot of video games this season. 

— Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane)

3) Zion Williamson will lead the NBA in scoring 

Zion got here shut final season, ending eighth in scoring with a mean of 27.0 factors on — await it — 17.0 photographs per sport. He’s already the most dominant paint scorer in the league and he says he labored on increasing his vary this offseason, which ought to terrify the rest of the league. He clearly wants to remain wholesome, however a barely higher model of the Zion we noticed final season could possibly be sufficient to take residence the scoring title.

— Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles)

4) The Lakers will lead the NBA in technical fouls

Offseason additions Dwight Howard (16) and Russell Westbrook (14) had been among the many league leaders in technical fouls final season. LeBron James isn’t shy about voicing his complaints, and neither is Frank Vogel. Do you actually suppose Rajon Rondo gained’t get T’d up just a few occasions? Yeah, followers sitting inside the STAPLES Heart will probably be listening to quite a lot of whistles.

— Jordan Greer (@jordangreer42)

5) Devin Booker will win 2021-22 NBA MVP

Let’s flip up the warmth a bit bit. Give me the 24-year-old Booker to win this yr’s MVP award. 

Coming off of a exceptional postseason debut, Booker will probably be hungry to try to return to the NBA Finals stage and all indicators level to his continued enchancment as among the finest younger gamers within the league. If the Suns earn the most effective document within the Western Convention and Booker performs on the similar stage we noticed within the 2021 playoffs, he’ll actually obtain consideration. The query would then develop into: can he persuade voters he deserves the award greater than his backcourt mate Chris Paul?

— Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_)

Odds to win 2021-22 NBA championship

Courtesy of FanDuel

Brooklyn Nets +250
Los Angeles Lakers +400
Milwaukee Bucks +650
Golden State Warriors +1200
Utah Jazz +1400
Phoenix Suns +1500
LA Clippers +1600
Philadelphia 76ers +2000
Denver Nuggets +2500
Miami Warmth +2500
Dallas Mavericks +3000
Atlanta Hawks +4000
Boston Celtics +4800
Chicago Bulls +6000
Portland Path Blazers +8000
Memphis Grizzlies +8500
New Orleans Pelicans +10000
Indiana Pacers +10000
New York Knicks +10000
Charlotte Hornets +13000
Toronto Raptors +13000
Washington Wizards +16000
Minnesota Timberwolves +21000
Sacramento Kings +24000
San Antonio Spurs +24000
Cleveland Cavaliers +25000
Detroit Pistons +25000
Houston Rockets +25000
Oklahoma Metropolis Thunder +25000
Orlando Magic +25000 | NBA predictions 2021-22: Ultimate standings, playoff projections, awards, NBA Finals decide


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