A few of us got together to predict the major award winners for the 2021-22 season. Here are our way too early predictions for the 75th NBA season. By all means, hold us accountable for our opinions.
Jarael’s @ThePrinceAkeem Predictions:
NBA Champion: The Brooklyn Nets. This is a really easy choice, I think this team is just as good as it gets. Even if Kyrie decides not to play or gets traded, the Nets are the best team with the most upside this season.
Western Conference Champion: The Utah Jazz. I think the Jazz finally get over the hump and make it to the Western Conference Finals. They should be one of the best defensive teams in the league and I imagine Mitchell makes a leap this year into the MVP conversation.
Eastern Conference Champion: The Brooklyn Nets. I think the Eastern Conference is stacked this year and can easily see the Miami Heat battle the Nets in the Conference Finals. However, Giannis is a monster and if they all stay healthy and get a good seed, we can expect a rematch from last season. Nets on top though.
Regular Season MVP: Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers. It’s time. Long overdue. One of the best players in the league stays healthy and Philly secures a top 3 spot in the East. Joel will win the MVP.
Scoring Title: Bradley Beal. Missed it by a small mark last year but I think this year he gets it.
Defensive Player of the year: Giannis ABCDEFG, Bucks in Six. I would lean Ben Simmons but I have an inclination that Giannis continues to add to his trophy case this year with another DPOTY.
Rookie of the Year: Jalen Green, Houston Rockets. He is going to be really good. Not to mention he will have a lot more opportunities playing for Houston. This is his award to lose.
Most Improved: One of the hardest awards to predict. However, I have to go with a player I think is going to be good and have a lot more opportunities, Terance Mann, Los Angeles Clippers. With Kawhi out, someone has to step up.
Sixth Man of the Year: Derrick Rose, New York Knicks. Clarkson is a monster but I expect Rose to have a great year off the bench. I wanted to put him for most improved but figured it was safe to vote for 6th man of the year based on his past performances.
Coach of the Year: Wes Unsled Jr. The Washington Wizards. This is my second year in a row thinking the Wizards will overachieve, but maybe this year they will actually make the playoffs.
Hottest take: This hurts to say but the Los Angeles Lakers will be an early exit of the first round. I wouldn’t be shocked if Russell Westbrook was traded mid-season as the Lakers go on a 7 game losing streak. Also, the Hornets and Kings will make the playoffs.
Arnold’s @ArnoldtheThird Predictions:
NBA Champion: Milwaukee Bucks. This is a default pick. LA is too old, Brooklyn is incredibly talented but their second best player is putting his degree from YouTube Comment Medical School to good use and maybe missing the year, and my sleeper pick (Denver) is also missing their second best player. Milwaukee has the best player in the league at the peak of his powers; he’s so good he can overcome questionable coaching and inconsistent role players. Alexa play “Back to Back” by Drake.
Western Conference Champion: Denver Nuggets. Jokic carries the squad into the playoffs, but Murray’s potential unavailability and/or ineffectiveness coming off injury keeps me from saying they win it all. They’ve got a deep team though, and if Michael Porter Jr. can learn what defense is then look out. I really like this squad’s potential and think they get it done on the West side of the bracket.
Eastern Conference Champion: Bucks
Regular Season MVP: Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets. Injury concerns are a major factor as Durant hasn’t played a full season since the Bush administration. But he defied the odds last season after a devastating injury and looked as good as ever. The NBA is cracking down on players committing atrocities against the spirit of the game by foul hunting so Harden will have a down year. Mix that with his other top teammate possibly retiring mid-year to become a Fox News correspondent and it adds up to voters having sympathy for KD, who wills his squad to the East Finals in consecutive years.
Scoring Title: Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors. Curry is the most impactful offensive basketball player since prime Shaq. Calling him “the best shooter ever” at this point is like calling Denzel Washington “the best actor ever from Mount Vernon, NY”–not only is it blatantly obvious, it undersells his abilities (all-time vision, handles, finishing ability at the rim, etc) and impact. Curry is a top 10 player ever and defends his position well for his size. He runs it back with another 30+ppg season.
Defensive Player of the year: Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat. Bam puts perimeter defenders in hell every night while also anchoring the backline of Miami’s defense. This is the year he gets his due recognition.
Rookie of the Year: Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons. Another default pick. As skilled a college player as I’ve seen in years, Cade comes into the league averaging a smooth 21 ppg. and makes Detroit a fun League Pass team. Jalen Green could also make some noise in this race.
Most Improved: Jordan Poole, Golden State Warriors. This is a popular pick as Poole has been going dummy in the preseason. His confidence is off the charts and he’s got the green light to take whatever shot he wants. With Klay out until potentially January, Poole has a chance to make a big impact early. It’s his time.
Sixth Man of the Year: Tyler Herro, Miami Heat. Herro struggled after the bubble. The sophomore slump comes for many NBA players, but he’s been looking solid in the preseason. This year he turns it around and gets back on track for Miami.
Coach of the Year: Ime Udoka, Boston Celtics. Udoka gets the Celtics to the 3 seed and the praise follows. Between him and Nash, it’s weird to see players I watched in high school transition into coaching roles (I won’t mention Kidd as he is a dumpster fire). The great thing for Udoka is that he’s married to Nia Long so no matter what happens this season he has already won.
Hottest take: The Kings make the playoffs. This is less “hot take” and more “God You know the desires of my heart, I know You hear and answer prayers”. Sacramento drafted a player who would’ve won ROY if he hadn’t gotten injured. The team talent is marginal but there’s some there. In a down West year, my favorite team finally makes it back to the playoffs and doesn’t keep ripping my heart out.
Ryan’s @ryandmoon Predictions:
NBA Champion: Brooklyn Nets. I understand the Nets are in disarray with Kyrie being, well, Kyrie! But this team is still incredibly talented without him. Other than the Bucks, and adding the fact of how tough it is to win back-to-back, I see the Nets cruising to the Finals and winning it all.
Western Conference Champion: The Utah Jazz. People seem to forget just how talented the Jazz are, they finished #1 in the Western Conference last year even riddled with injuries. If they remain healthy, they are the best overall team in the West.
Eastern Conference Champion: Brooklyn Nets. I can not wait for another exciting Eastern Conference Championship series between the Bucks and Nets though.
Regular Season MVP: Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks. This man continues to put up younger (and old) Lebron James numbers. It is only a matter of time.
Scoring Title: Damian Lillard, Portland Trailblazers. Klay Thompson eventually returning will bring down numbers for Steph Curry.
Defensive Player of the year: Giannis, Milwaukee Bucks. I don’t think many are in competition with him currently for the award.
Rookie of the Year: Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons. It is all about scoring and I think he will do a lot of it.
Most Improved: Issac Okoro, Cleveland Cavaliers. Cavs fan biased… but my pick to win last year’s rookie of the year wins this year’s Most Improved Player after developing his offensive game.
Sixth Man of the Year: Tyler Herro, Miami Heat. Dude has been talking this off-season, let’s see him prove it.
Coach of the Year: Steve Nash, Brooklyn Nets. Handling of Kyrie Irving and succeeding guarantees this.
Hottest take: Kyrie Irving “retires” early season. But unretires and gets the vaccine and comes back to win a championship.