The 2021-22 NBA Season Preview

October 17th, 2021

By Alan Lu

Brooklyn Nets’ superstar and legendary forward, Kevin Durant will lead his team into the 2021-22 NBA season, and the Nets look to be strong contenders to win the 2022 NBA championship.
(Photo:
Sarah Stier/Getty Images, via Yahoo Sports)

Last season was full of spectacles and entertainment that resulted in superstar forward Giannis Antetokounmpo leading his team, the Milwaukee Bucks to win the 2021 NBA Finals over the Phoenix Suns to win the NBA championship.  They also managed to defeat Kevin Durant’s Brooklyn Nets’ team in the second round.  Though the Nets were without Kyrie Irving for the latter half of that series and they only had a banged up James Harden, the Bucks manage to stave off an impressive, 48-point effort from Durant in order to defeat the Nets and advance.

There are many questions that have yet to be answered for the upcoming 2021-22 NBA season.  Obviously, one of them is which NBA team will win the title?  But also, Ben Simmons has been holding out, and the Philadelphia 76ers have not met a trade that is to their liking, and so the 76ers are holding out the faint hope that maybe the two sides will reconcile in order to get Ben Simmons to suit up and play for Philadelphia once again.

Brooklyn Nets’ mercurial superstar point guard, Kyrie Irving has repeatedly refused to get vaccinated, and could be forced to sit out the season as a result, as New York City’s mandate will not let players on the home team play without getting vaccinated, and the Nets have moved forward by stating they will not let Irving play road games either, as they do not want part-time players on their roster.  The question that now stems from this is, how much will the absence of Kyrie Irving affect the Brooklyn Nets’ title hopes? 

Anyways, we will be getting ready for the start of another exciting NBA season that will begin and tip-off on October 19th.  The new NBA season is about to begin soon, and here is a preview of each teams to get a glimpse into how they may fare for the upcoming 2021-22 NBA basketball season.

The 2021-22 NBA Season Projections:

Milwaukee Bucks’ superstar and legendary forward Giannis Antetokounmpo and Brooklyn Nets’ superstar forward Kevin Durant could meet in the NBA playoffs once again in 2022.
(Photo:
Gary Dineen/NBAE via Getty Images, via Bleacher Report)

The Eastern Conference

Here is the projected regular season finish for the Eastern Conference teams that are listed below. (Playoff predictions are not taken into affect at this point. Some teams may really push to try to get regular season wins, while other teams may elect to take the load management path in order to rest their top players for the playoffs. Also, teams that are listed in the 7-10 range would end up playing in the 2022 NBA Play-In Tournament.)

1. The Milwaukee Bucks

They are the defending champions led by Greek superstar point forward, Giannis Antetokounmpo, star forward Khris Middleton, as well as star point guard Jrue Holiday.  Head coach Mike Budenholzer was tremendous at coaching and leading his team to win the title in 2021.  They’ll have a very difficult task to repeat and to hold off strong contenders like the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers to win the title again, but the 2022 Milwaukee Bucks bring back most of the players back that could enable them to do so.

2. The Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks are a young, fast rising team that has a group of very good offensive players led by superstar point guard Trae Young, who boasts having strong shooting, scoring, and playmaking skills.  They have a ton of depth, and are anchored by defensive ace and center, Clint Capela, while they have other players such as John Collins and Danilo Gallinari that can score, stretch the floor, and give opponents fits with their versatility. Plus, Lou Williams is a gifted scorer off the bench, and he also is a former Sixth Man of the Year award winner.

They had really struggled under their previous coach Lloyd Pierce, but after they fired him, the Hawks really clicked and gelled under their new head coach Nate McMillan, who led them to the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals.  If the Hawks reach their full potential this season, they could be title contenders without taking anyone by surprise this time.

3. The Brooklyn Nets

The Nets on paper look to be by far the best NBA team on paper.  They are led by a trio of superstars in Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving, and when they’re healthy and on the court, scoring and putting up points definitely won’t be a problem.  They also have valuable role players that they can also lean on to contribute, such as Joe Harris, Blake Griffin, and Paul Millsap.

However, they can sometimes be their own worst enemy.  They’ve been hampered by injuries last season, and Kyrie Irving could miss all of his team’s games because he is currently unvaccinated, as he has not complied with New York’s vaccine mandate, and his team also has refused to permit part-time players to play for them.  Irving has a lot to lose from taking this stance, and he could end up forfeiting a lot of money this season.

Even without him, the Brooklyn Nets boast having some of the best players in the NBA and a very potent offense. While they would like to have a full squad, Kevin Durant, James Harden, and head coach Steve Nash will lead a very talented team to compete for the title in 2022.

4. The Philadelphia 76ers

After winning a lot of games and finishing with the best record in the East last season, and turning in a strong year from Joel Embiid, and a very good defensive year out of Ben Simmons, the 76ers had a very disappointing playoff run, as they were bounced out of the 2nd Round by the Atlanta Hawks. 

There was a lot of blame to go around, and most of the blame immediately seemed to shift instantly towards Ben Simmons, who is currently holding out.  Currently, there could be a lot of hand wringing amongst the Philly faithful on the direction and fate of their team’s future.  The 76ers have enough talent to get to the postseason without him, as they have a very good low post presence in Joel Embiid and a slew of solid role players, but it’s tough to imagine they’ll get far in the postseason if Simmons holds out for the entire season.

5. The New York Knicks

The New York Knicks had a surprisingly good season in 2021, as they made it to the playoffs under superstar forward Julius Randle and head coach Tom Thibodeau, but they had a disappointing first-round playoff exit to the Atlanta Hawks.  The Knicks are a very good defensive team that will get more offensive firepower by adding Kemba Walker to their team, and the Knicks could be a solid team that will be a strong bet to make the playoffs next season.

6. The Miami Heat

They had a Cinderella-esque run in 2020 with star players Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, and head coach Erik Spoelstra, who led them to get to the NBA Finals that year.  The Heat also have a solid group of sharpshooters in Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro, and they also acquired a star point guard in Kyle Lowry.  The Heat had a relative disappointing playoff exit in 2021, though they faced a very tough Milwaukee team, but they are a solid all-around team that could make a deep playoff run this season.

7. The Boston Celtics

The Celtics are a solid, mid-tier playoff team that boasts having two really good forwards in Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown.  Tatum is a versatile, super skilled forward that excels at putting the ball in the hoop, and he is a very good, all-around player.  Jaylen Brown is a very athletic forward that also has solid all-around skills, and he is a rangy defender that can guard multiple positions.  The Celtics made a lot of changes in the offseason, but they will build their team around those two and around defensive point guard Marcus Smart, and veteran center Al Horford to get back to the postseason in 2022.

8. The Chicago Bulls

They really made moves to really bolster their team, and they have three star players in Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vučević that can help get them to the playoffs.  The Bulls also added a solid playmaking guard in Lonzo Ball, and a stout defensive guard in Alex Caruso.  They also have young up and comers in Patrick Williams, Coby White, and Ayo Dosunmu.  They’ll need time to gel to work together, but with head coach Billy Donovan at the helm, the Bulls could get to the playoffs this season.

9. The Washington Wizards

They are led by superstar scoring guard, Bradley Beal, who can really shoot and score, and he also can run the point if necessary.  While they did trade away Russell Westbrook in the offseason, they did manage to add a lot of solid role players after making a trade with the L.A. Lakers, which will bolster their depth, and they were able to add Montrezl Harrell, who was former Sixth Man of the Year award winner.  They also made a sign-and-trade with Brooklyn to get Spencer Dinwiddie, which will add more talent and depth to their team.  The Wizards will compete for a playoff spot, and they are talented enough to snag a lower tier playoff seed out in the East.

10. The Indiana Pacers

The had a solid group of veterans that could be a playoff team if they manage to stay healthy and if they play cohesively under new veteran head coach, Rick CarlisleMalcolm Brogdon is a very skilled, savvy playmaker that can play either backcourt position, and they have two centers in Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner that are two of the best at their position out in the East. They’ll also get a healthy T.J. Warren, who scored 53 points in the Orlando bubble in 2020, but missed most of the 2020-21 season due to injury. The Pacers don’t have an elite superstar, but they have a collection of solid players that could make them a likely candidate to make the playoffs this year.

11. The Toronto Raptors

After losing in a tough, seven game series in the second round to the Boston Celtics in 2020, the Raptors had a disappointing 2021 season that culminated in missing the playoffs.  They lost Kyle Lowry due to free agency, but they will bring back plenty of veterans, and they also will be getting Goran Dragić to help fill his shoes.  Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam will likely be the team’s two best players, and they could bring an interesting pick-and-roll attack to this team.  Chris Boucher is a very athletic, wiry big man that can run the floor, block shots, and shoot a little, and OG Anunoby is a very athletic forward that is a classic 3 and D player. 

They also will have some solid shooters in Dragic, Gary Trent Jr., and Malachi Flynn.  Plus, Scottie Barnes is a tall, athletic point forward that is a solid defender, and could be really good if he can improve his jump shot.  The Raptors are coming off of their worst season in their head coach’s tenure, but head coach Nick Nurse is a solid coach that helped the Raptors win in 2019 (albeit they also had Lowry and Kawhi Leonard).  There is a lot of competition for playoff spots out in the East, but if Pascal Siakam could return to his 2020 form and if Barnes proves to be one of the best players in this draft class, the Raptors could make it back to the postseason this year.

12. The Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets were a pleasantly surprising, young upstart team that managed to get into the play-in tournament last season due to the strong play of rookie point guard LaMelo Ball, and veteran forward Gordon Hayward, and due to the solid coaching of James Borrego.  They have a solid set of young players, but they are still inexperienced and will no longer have the ability to sneak up on teams, so it could be significantly tougher for them to fight for a playoff spot out in the East this season.

13. The Cleveland Cavaliers

They are a young team that is led by a speedy, athletic slashing combo guard in Collin Sexton, and they also have promising rim protectors in Jarrett Allen and Evan MobleyDarius Garland can also score the basketball and provide some offense.  Kevin Love is coming off of a down year, but he’s a skilled stretch big that is always a threat to score and provide offense when he’s motivated to do so. Ricky Rubio is a cerebral playmaker that can rack up assists, and he also scored 38 points for Spain against the U.S. in the Olympics. On the other hand, they are an inexperienced team that doesn’t have a lot of high-end talent to compete with the other teams, and they will not likely make the playoffs this year.

14. The Detroit Pistons

They are a young team that will have an exciting, all-around point forward in Cade Cunningham that will be an early favorite to win the Rookie of the Year award this season.  He will be teamed up with Jerami Grant, who was their leading scorer and was a finalist for the Most Improved Player award last year.  They also have a couple of promising young players in Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart, whom both had very good rookie seasons last year. Kelly Olynyk is also expected to be a major contributor this year, and he is an athletic forward that can provide scoring. The Pistons are a rebuilding team that are not expected to get many wins this year, but they have a few players that will be worth watching on their team.

15. The Orlando Magic

They are a young team that is led by athletic rookie guard, Jalen Suggs, whose promising all-around skills and consistently high motor will make him a fun player to watch this year.  They’ll also have a healthy Jonathan Isaac to pair him up with Wendell Carter Jr., and Carter will provide them with a low post scoring presence.  They also have promising point guards in Cole Anthony and the talented, but oft-injured Markelle Fultz

Defensive-minded center Mo Bamba may be at a crossroads in his young career, and he’ll need to prove that he can be a regular rotation player in the NBA. He is a talented shot blocker that was highly regarded by draft analysts and is a former top 10 pick, but Bamba has been a disappointment in the NBA so far, as he’s been hindered by injuries, a lack of playing time, and he hasn’t developed as much as hoped in the association. The Magic is an inexperienced team, and they still don’t have a lot of high-end talent to compete with other teams, so they will likely finish near the bottom of the standings once again this season.

Phoenix Suns’ star guard Devin Booker, and Los Angeles Lakers’ superstar and legendary forward, LeBron James could meet in the NBA playoffs once again in 2022.
(Photo:
Matt York/Associated Press, via Bleacher Report)

The Western Conference

Here is the projected regular season finish for the Western Conference teams that are listed below. (Playoff predictions are not taken into affect at this point. Some teams may really push to try to get regular season wins, while other teams may elect to take the load management path in order to rest their top players for the playoffs. Also, teams that are listed in the 7-10 range would end up playing in the 2022 NBA Play-In Tournament.)

1. The Phoenix Suns

The Suns were a surprise, NBA Finals’ team in 2021, and they received tremendous guard play from Chris Paul and Devin Booker, as well as solid frontcourt play from DeAndre Ayton, Jae Crowder, and Mikal Bridges.  They also received strong bench play from players such as Cameron Johnson and Cameron Payne. Head coach Monty Williams did a great job of leading them to many wins in the regular season and in the playoffs, and they fell just short as they lost to the Milwaukee Bucks in the NBA Finals. 

On one hand, Chris Paul’s not getting any younger, but he is a smart, very skilled playmaker that is one of the best in the game when healthy.  Devin Booker is a tremendously skilled scorer that can really get buckets when he’s dialed in.  The Suns also have a lot of depth and talent on their roster, so if they manage to stay healthy, they could get back to the NBA Finals in 2022.

2. The Utah Jazz

The Utah Jazz came away with the best record in the regular season in 2021, and so it almost seemed like they were destined for disappointment if they didn’t finish anywhere near the NBA Finals last season.  Indeed, the Jazz were knocked out of the second round by the Los Angeles Clippers, and in their final game, they allowed 39 points to second-year guard Terance Mann, as the Clippers managed to win and advance without their best player, Kawhi Leonard.

Still, the Jazz is a very good team that boasts having one of the best defenses in the NBA.  They have a very athletic, electrifying scoring combo guard in Donovan Mitchell, and they have a terrific interior defender in Rudy Gobert whose shot blocking prowess and defensive activity makes it hard for any of the opponents to get easy shots in the paint.

They also have a strong group of role players and bench, as they also have All-Star point guard Mike Conley, as well as others such as Joe Ingles, Bojan Bogdanović, and 6th Man of the Year award winner Jordan Clarkson.  Second round rookie guard, Jared Butler is a skilled playmaker whose solid all-around skills and play in preseason could enable him to be a key contributor for the Jazz this year. Head coach Quin Snyder has coached them well in the regular season, but has caught some flak for his lack of in-game adjustments in the postseason.  The Jazz may still need to add more offensive firepower, and figure out how to defend better in the playoffs, but they should be a very good regular season team that will get to the playoffs this season.

3. Dallas Mavericks

They are a very good offensive-minded team that are led by superstar point forward Luka Dončić, and star center Kristaps Porziņģis.  They looked impressive and at times downright dominant in preseason under new head coach Jason Kidd, and there’s hope that Doncic and Kidd can get Dallas to new heights and go far in the postseason this time around. The Mavericks have a slew of solid offensive players that will make Dallas a playoff team, but they will need to improve their defense in order to make a deep run in the postseason.

4. The Denver Nuggets

They are a solid, mid-tier playoff team that boasts having the league’s reigning MVP in superstar, point center Nikola Jokić.  He boasts having a strong low post game as well as a solid jump shot, as well as terrific playmaking skills due to having great passing skills and court vision.  They also will be aided by two very athletic forwards, a tall, skilled scorer in Michael Porter Jr., and they have a rangy, versatile defender in Aaron Gordon.  Unfortunately, Jamal Murray is out for the season, so the Nuggets will need Monte Morris, Facundo Campazzo, Bones Hyland, and others to pick up the slack, but their solid group of rotation players should enable them to make the playoffs this year.

5. The Los Angeles Clippers

Though they lost Kawhi Leonard for the playoffs midway through last season against the Utah Jazz, the Clippers proved their mettle by finding a way to still defeat Utah in the second round due to receiving strong performances from Paul George, Terance Mann, and others, before ultimately losing to Phoenix in the 2021 Western Conference Finals.

They’ll be without Kawhi Leonard again this season, which definitely weakens their title chances, but they’ll be a competitive team that could be slated to make the playoffs once again his year. Paul George is a very good, upper echelon star forward that is capable of dominating on any given night, and they have a slew of solid role players that are well coached by their head coach, Tyronn Lue.  Losing Leonard due to injury certainly will hurt them, but even still, the Clippers are talented enough to get back to the postseason.

6. The Los Angeles Lakers

After winning the title in 2020, the Lakers were bounced in the first round of the playoffs last year by Phoenix, and they felt changes had to be made.  They swung a blockbuster trade with Washington to land superstar point guard Russell Westbrook, and they’ll have him team up with legendary point forward LeBron James, and superstar forward Anthony Davis to create a formidable trio in their lineup.  They’ve also made plenty of other additions in the offseason, as they brought in solid veterans such as Carmelo Anthony, Trevor Ariza, Malik Monk, and Rajon Rondo to bolster their depth.

On the other hand, they also traded away plenty of their role players to get Westbrook, and while the Lakers look great on paper, there is still some major concerns about if their team fits together, and if they have enough shooting on their roster.  Also, Anthony Davis seemed to really struggle as a four-man alongside Andre Drummond last season, and he didn’t shoot the ball well at all in the playoffs.  While Davis is likely much better as a center than at power forward, he’ll likely be paired with rim protectors that are similar to Drummond in DeAndre Jordan and Dwight Howard, so it’s uncertain if he’ll be able to maximize his skills this year.  If the Lakers can hit their stride, especially come playoff time, they could be significant title contenders this year, but that is a big if.

7. The Golden State Warriors

There is much anticipation from the Warriors’ fanbase and from the NBA in seeing what a healthy Klay Thompson could do to aid a fully healthy Golden State Warriors’ team.  They already have arguably the best shooter in the game in Stephen Curry, whose tremendous sharpshooting, scoring, and playmaking prowess would make any offense a potent attack. 

They also have a very skilled point forward in Draymond Green, who had a renaissance year from a defensive standpoint, and he was a finalist for the Defensive Player of the Year award last season.  Plus, Steve Kerr is a very good NBA head coach who has led the Warriors to 3 NBA titles in his first 7 seasons as an NBA head coach.  They also have a slew of promising role players that could theoretically be very beneficial to their team.  It’s a bit unclear what else the other players may bring to the table, or if they can reclaim the long lost firepower from their championship years, but if they can, the Warriors could be a sleeper team out in the West.

8. The Memphis Grizzlies

They are a fun, young team on the rise, as they are led by superstar point guard, Ja Morant.  Morant is a speedy, electrifying playmaker that can really score, throw down dunks, and dish out quick assists for his teammates.  They also boast having a slew of solid role players such as Kyle Anderson and Jaren Jackson Jr., and while they traded away Valanciunas, they swung a trade to land Steven Adams in the offseason.  The Memphis Grizzlies are an interesting team to watch, and they will vie for a playoff spot in 2022.

9. The New Orleans Pelicans

The Pelicans may be one of the more divisive teams in debating where they will finish in the Western Conference standings this season.  On one hand, they boast having two of the most promisingly talented players in the game, as they have the uber-athletic forward, Zion Williamson, who can throw down roaring dunks and can take over games, and Brandon Ingram, who on any given day is capable of scoring often from anywhere on the floor.

They also swung a major trade with Memphis to land Jonas Valančiūnas in the offseason to add more low post scoring to their team, and they also signed Devonte’ Graham.  However, they still have a relatively unproven bench, and Zion has had trouble staying healthy over the years.  The Pelicans may be the trendy pick to count them as a playoff team, but I’m not sure if they will get to the postseason next year, especially since Zion will likely miss time to start the season, and they couldn’t even get to the play-in tournament under their previous coach, Stan Van Gundy last season.

10. The Portland Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard is one of the best game right now, as evidenced by his 55-point outburst in his team’s Game 5, double overtime playoff loss to the Denver Nuggets.  He is a tremendously skilled sharpshooter and scorer that can really get buckets, and he is a superstar that is one of the best point guards in the game.  Combined with C.J. McCollum, Lillard and McCollum team up to form a formidable tandem in the backcourt.

There’s just one problem, it seems that Lillard never has enough help to help his team contend for a title.  Portland was really bad defensively last year, as they were 29th in defensive efficiency in 2021.  They are very undersized out on the perimeter, and they didn’t seem to do much to add much defense to their team this year, aside from acquiring Larry Nance Jr. in the offseason via trade.  They also swapped out former head coach Terry Stotts for first-time head coach, Chauncey Billups, who was a star point guard in his own regards, and helped the 2004 Detroit Pistons win the NBA championship, but was also known to give some curious analysis as an ESPN analyst.  The Blazers will be in a tough race to try to snag a lower-tier playoff seed in the West, and they’ll lean heavily on Dame Lillard to try to make it back to the postseason.

11. The Minnesota Timberwolves

The Timberwolves had something of a second half rejuvenation under their new head coach Chris Finch, who was hired midway through to jolt some new energy to this team.   They boast having one of the most skilled centers in all of the NBA in superstar Karl Anthony-Towns, and they also have an extremely athletic swingman in Anthony Edwards, who can provide instant scoring and exciting dunks for the Timberwolves. 

They also have a slew of promising scorers and defensive players, but the Timberwolves haven’t had much luck in reaching the playoffs in this century.  They did swing a trade to land some solid veterans in Patrick Beverley and Taurean Prince, and they could bring some stability and an improved defensive mindset to this team.  Skilled, offensive wing Leandro Bolmaro could surprise people and turn in a good rookie season if he can get consistent playing time this year. While the Timberwolves are long shots to make the playoffs once again, they built up some solid momentum towards the end of last season.  In addition, their solid core of Towns, Edwards, D’Angelo Russell, Jaden McDaniels, and their head coach Chris Finch may give them some hope to dream of getting there this season.

12. The San Antonio Spurs

The Spurs lost DeMar DeRozan to the Chicago Bulls in free agency, but as they are coached by legendary head coach Gregg Popovich, they should never truly be counted out, even if their team doesn’t look to be nearly as strong on paper as they had looked in years past.

Even still, they still have a promising group of perimeter players on their roster.  Keldon Johnson gained valuable experience playing for Team USA, and he helped them win the Gold Medal in the Olympics.  They also have a group of skilled guards in Dejounte Murray, Derrick White, and Lonnie Walker that can help solidify their offense.  They also brought in some solid veterans such as Thadeous Young and Doug McDermott. Rookie guard, Joshua Primo played really well in his first preseason game, as he could be much better than expected.  There’s no elite player on the Spurs’ roster, and in a tough Western Conference, it may be unlikely for them to sneak into a playoff spot this year, but with Popovich returning, it still could be within the realm of possibility this season.

13. The Sacramento Kings

The Kings haven’t made the playoffs in a long time, but they are starting to build the pieces and a key core to help them do so in the future.  They boast having a good group of skilled point guards in the very athletic De’Aaron Fox, and they also have a tall, skilled playmaking combo guard in Tyrese Haliburton.  Also, Buddy Hield can provide instant offense for them off the bench, and they also have a group of solid frontcourt players in Harrison Barnes and Richaun Holmes.  They added rookie point guard, Davion Mitchell in the draft, who helped Baylor win the National Championship.  The Kings have not been to the playoffs for awhile, and head coach Luke Walton has never technically made the playoffs as an official head coach, even when he coached LeBron with the Lakers during the 2018-19 season, but the Kings are talented enough to at least compete for a spot in the play-in tournament this year.

14. The Oklahoma City Thunder

They are a young team that is led by a group of promising perimeter players, as they boast having a rising star point guard in Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, and they also have a strong defensive player in Luguentz Dort, who can lock down the best of players.  They will lean heavily on Australian rookie point forward, Josh Giddey, and on 7-0 tall point center, Aleksej Pokusevski, both of whom are enormously talented but are unproven as NBA players.  Compared to the other teams, they still don’t have enough elite players yet, and they are a young team that is lacking in experience.  They won’t likely get to the playoffs this season, but they have been making sound moves in Oklahoma City, and the future looks bright for them.

15. The Houston Rockets

They are a young team that is led by the trio of center Christian Wood, swingman Kevin Porter Jr., and by the very athletic rookie guard Jalen Green.  Green is an exciting playmaker that can shoot and score the basketball, and he’ll compete with Cunningham for the Rookie of the Year award this season.  Rookie big man, Alperen Şengün was extremely productive in international basketball last year, and he could be poised to have a good rookie season.

On the other hand, the Rockets are very inexperienced and still have a long way to go as a basketball team, as they also have a lot of unproven, young players on their roster.  Given the tough competition out in the Western Conference, most likely the Rockets will miss the playoffs this season.

So, now with the basic write-ups out of the way, here is what I think the projected 2021-22 NBA season could look like.

Eastern Conference

  1. Milwaukee Bucks (56-26)
  2. Atlanta Hawks (50-32)
  3. Brooklyn Nets (48-34)
  4. Philadelphia 76ers (47-35)
  5. New York Knicks (47-35)
  6. Miami Heat (47-35)
  7. *Boston Celtics (43-39)
  8. *Chicago Bulls (43-39)
  9. *Washington Wizards (42-40)
  10. *Indiana Pacers (41-41)
  11. Toronto Raptors (40-42)
  12. Charlotte Hornets (36-46)
  13. Cleveland Cavaliers (28-54)
  14. Detroit Pistons (26-56)
  15. Orlando Magic (20-52)

Western Conference

  1. Phoenix Suns (53-29)
  2. Utah Jazz (50-32)
  3. Dallas Mavericks (49-33)
  4. Denver Nuggets (47-35)
  5. Los Angeles Clippers (46-36)
  6. Los Angeles Lakers (44-38)
  7. *Golden State Warriors (44-38)
  8. *Memphis Grizzlies (42-40)
  9. *New Orleans Pelicans (42-40)
  10. *Portland Trail Blazers (42-40)
  11. Minnesota Timberwolves (35-47)
  12. San Antonio Spurs (34-48)
  13. Sacramento Kings (33-49)
  14. Oklahoma City Thunder (29-53)
  15. Houston Rockets (26-56)

The Projected 2022 NBA Playoffs

The Play-In TournamentEastern Conference:

(7) Boston Celtics defeat the (8) Chicago Bulls – Celtics clinch a playoff spot

(9) Washington Wizards defeat the (10) Indiana Pacers
(8) Chicago Bulls defeat the (9) Washington Wizards – Bulls clinch a playoff spot

The Play-In TournamentWestern Conference:

(7) Golden State Warriors defeat the (8) Memphis Grizzlies – Warriors clinch a playoff spot

(10) Portland Trail Blazers defeat the (9) New Orleans Pelicans
(10) Portland Trail Blazers defeat the (8) Memphis Grizzlies – Blazers clinch a playoff spot

1st Round of the NBA PlayoffsEastern Conference:

(1) Milwaukee Bucks over the (8) Chicago Bulls in 5 games
(4) Philadelphia 76ers over the (5) New York Knicks in 6 games

(2) Atlanta Hawks over the (7) Boston Celtics in 6 games
(3)Brooklyn Nets over the (6) Miami Heat in 5 games

1st Round of the NBA PlayoffsWestern Conference:

(1) Phoenix Suns over the (8) Portland Trail Blazers in 6 games
(5) Los Angeles Clippers over the (4) Denver Nuggets in 6 games

(6) Los Angeles Lakers over the (3) Dallas Mavericks in 7 games
(7) Golden State Warriors over the (2) Utah Jazz in 7 games

2nd Round of the NBA PlayoffsEastern Conference:

(1) Milwaukee Bucks over the (4) Philadelphia 76ers in 4 games
(3) Brooklyn Nets over the (2) Atlanta Hawks in 6 games

2nd Round of the NBA PlayoffsWestern Conference:

(1) Phoenix Suns over the (5) Los Angeles Clippers in 6 games
(6) Los Angeles Lakers over the (7) Golden State Warriors in 7 games

Eastern Conference Finals:

(2) Brooklyn Nets over the (1) Milwaukee Bucks in 7 games

Western Conference Finals:

(1) Phoenix Suns over the (6) Los Angeles Lakers in 6 games

2022 NBA Finals:

(3) Brooklyn Nets over the (1) Phoenix Suns in 6 games

2022 NBA Finals MVP:
Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets

So, those are my regular season and playoff predictions, as well as my NBA Finals MVP pick.  If you want my brother’s detailed analysis of NBA teams and predictions, I would highly recommend and advise you to buy his book, which is now out on Amazon. 

Below, our staff made predictions as to who may get awards and be named to various teams for the 2020-21 NBA season.

2021-22 NBA Award Projections:

Our staff voted on whom we would give the awards to, based on our projections for the upcoming season.  There wasn’t always much consensus, but based on the polling, this is how the results turned out for our preseason award picks.

Kevin Durant is our pick to win the MVP award for the 2021-22 NBA season.
(Photo:
Sue Ogrocki/Associated Press, via Los Angeles Daily News)

MVP:

Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets
2nd: Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
3rd: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Others Receiving Votes:

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors, LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers

Head Coach of the Year:

Tyronn Lue, Los Angeles Clippers
2nd: Nate McMillan, Atlanta Hawks
3rd: Ime Udoka, Boston Celtics

Others Receiving Votes:
Jason Kidd, Dallas Mavericks, Taylor Jenkins, Memphis Grizzlies

Golden State Warriors’ star forward, Draymond Green is our pick to win the 2021-22 NBA Defensive Player of the Year award.
(Photo:
Brad Penner/USA Today Sports, via SB Nation’s Golden State of Mind)

Defensive Player of the Year:

Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
2nd: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
3rd: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Others Receiving Votes:

Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers, Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee Bucks, Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers

Preseason All-Defensive 1st Team:

C Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz
F Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
F Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors
G Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers
G Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee Bucks

Preseason All-Defensive 2nd Team:

C Clint Capela, Atlanta Hawks
F Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat
F Mikal Bridges, Phoenix Suns
G Luguentz Dort, Oklahoma City Thunder
G Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics

Others Receiving Votes:

Royce O’Neale, Utah Jazz, Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers, Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks

Detroit Pistons’ rookie, Cade Cunningham is our pick to win the 2021-22 NBA Rookie of the Year award.
(Photo:
Chase Stevens/Associated Press, via MLive.com)

Rookie of the Year:

Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons
2nd: Jalen Green, Houston Rockets
3rd: Jalen Suggs, Orlando Magic

Others Receiving Votes:
Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors

Preseason All-Rookie 1st Team:

C Alperen Sengun, Houston Rockets
F Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors
F Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons
G Jalen Suggs, Orlando Magic
G Jalen Green, Houston Rockets

Preseason All-Rookie 2nd Team:

C Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers
F Trey Murphy III, New Orleans Pelicans
F Josh Giddey, Oklahoma City Thunder
G Chris Duarte, Indiana Pacers
G Davion Mitchell, Sacramento Kings

Others Receiving Votes:
Corey Kispert, Washington Wizards

Sixth Man of the Year:

Joe Ingles, Utah Jazz
2nd: Danilo Gallinari, Atlanta Hawks
3rd: Bobby Portis, Milwaukee Bucks

Others Receiving Votes:

Derrick Rose, New York Knicks, Jordan Clarkson, Utah Jazz

Preseason All-NBA 1st Team:

C Nikola Jokic, Denver Nuggets
F Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
F Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets
G Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
G Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

Preseason All-NBA 2nd Team:

C Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
F LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
F Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
G James Harden, Brooklyn Nets
G Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers

Preseason All-NBA 3rd Team:

C Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
F Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans
F Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers
G Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
G Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns

Others Receiving Votes:

Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat, Russell Westbrook, Washington Wizards, Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves

Our Picks for the 2021 NBA All-Star Teams:

The Eastern Conference

C Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks
F Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets
F Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics
G Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks
G James Harden, Brooklyn Nets
____________________________________
G Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee Bucks
G Trae Young, Atlanta Hawks
F Jimmy Butler, Miami Heat
F Jaylen Brown, Boston Celtics
C Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers
G Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
C Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat

Head Coach: Mike Budenholzer, Milwaukee Bucks

Others Receiving Votes:
Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana Pacers

Alternates:
Malcolm Brogdon, Indiana Pacers, Zach LaVine, Chicago Bulls, Clint Capela, Atlanta Hawks

The Western Conference

C Nikola Jokic, Utah Jazz
F LeBron James, Los Angeles Lakers
F Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks
G Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers
G Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors
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G Donovan Mitchell, Utah Jazz
G Devin Booker, Phoenix Suns
F Paul George, Los Angeles Clippers
F Zion Williamson, New Orleans Pelicans
C Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers
G Ja Morant, Memphis Grizzlies
C Karl-Anthony Towns, Minnesota Timberwolves

Head Coach: Monty Williams, Phoenix Suns

Others Receiving Votes:
Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Lakers, Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors

Alternates:
Russell Westbrook, Los Angeles Lakers, Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors, Chris Paul, Phoenix Suns

This has been a fun write-up, and the NBA season will begin on October 19th.  It will be exciting to watch NBA basketball once again, and thanks for reading.

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