The NBA is back just in time for the Holidays which means everyone has their opinion on what’s going to happen in what could be a wilder and wackier season than 2019-2020 (if that’s possible).
But, how about we get BOLD? Time for some bold predictions for the 2020-2021 NBA season!
Looking at each team, I’ve come up with eight bold predictions for the 2020-21 NBA season. Let’s start with four that aren’t too crazy..
- LeBron Will NOT Decline This Season
It’ll happen eventually, yes…but it won’t be this season. LeBron James just won a title a few months ago and will have “nagging injuries” throughout the season meaning he’ll only play in meaningful games.
He may play fewer games than usual this season, but he’ll look like the best player in the league each game he’s in. I actually think LeBron is a front-runner for MVP rather than heading for a decline, but that’s just me!
- Brooklyn May Not Mesh Until February
Many have already penciled in the Nets as a title contender in 2021, and while I don’t disagree with that, I believe it may not be pretty early.
We’ve seen in the past, pairing a solid group of young, core players with two superstars looks great on paper, but it usually takes time to truly work, if it actually works at all. I believe by May, the Nets will be a problem, but don’t look for Brooklyn to look unbeatable at least until February.
- Even with No Klay, Golden State Will Finish In The Top Four In The West
Losing Klay Thompson hurt as I thought the Warriors would be in the NBA Finals this season if at full strength.
While that ship has sailed, I still believe led by Stephen Curry, the Warriors will be a top-four team in the West this season. Andrew Wiggins truly impressed me this offseason with his progress and Kelly Oubre Jr. looks ready to step up and fill the void left by Thompson’s injury.
The low post duo of Draymond Green and rookie James Wiseman also intrigues me as it could be an odd pairing that produces great play on both sides of the ball. Look for the Warriors to finish in the top four above the likes of Portland and Dallas.
- Obi Toppin Will Look Like A Superstar In New York
I’m not very high on the ceiling of the 2020 rookie class, but I feel in terms of placement, New York struck gold by drafting Dayton’s Obi Toppin.
While LaMelo Ball, Isaac Okoro, and/or even James Wiseman show more promise as rookies this season, numbers alone will lead to Toppin winning Rookie of the Year as he’ll be the Knicks leading scorer over RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, and Dennis Smith Jr. He’ll even break out and drop 30 against someone like Boston or Brooklyn and have ESPN claiming he’s the “franchise-savior” for the Knicks. Easy, now.
- James Harden, DeMar DeRozan, and Karl-Anthony Towns Will Be Traded This Season
All three at different times throughout the season will be on the move. Houston and James Harden are currently in an ugly, long-drawn out break up that’ll likely lead to a trade by the end of January.
I don’t think the Spurs will find much success this season and will move the veteran DeMar DeRozan close to the trade deadline in 2021 now on March 25.
The wildcard here is Karl-Anthony Towns and his massive contract. It’ll be tough to find a suitor, but KAT is an All-NBA player and somebody will make the move. It’s probably more likely KAT is traded after the season around the draft, but I think Minnesota will be under pressure this season and will give in to Towns’ request and ship him to either New York, Boston, or Atlanta.
- Luka Doncic Won’t Be MVP This Season
If you’re a betting man or woman, Doncic is the favorite to win MVP this season, even if you ask the Shoot or Pass crew! I’m not buying it.
As a rookie, Doncic surprised everyone with his skill, especially with his physicality. As a sophomore, he shocked and awed me as a true point guard with his ability to do everything and take over games.
Luka won’t surprise people in 2020-21 as he’s now the number one player to watch on the scouting report of all opposing teams. If Luka is double-teamed and closely guarded all game, he doesn’t have too many second options on the Mavericks especially if Porzingis isn’t 100% all season. Doncic will put up great numbers, but won’t be as must-see TV as he’s been in the past therefore will miss out on the MVP award.
- Atlanta, Phoenix, and Memphis Will All Be In The NBA Playoffs
I love all three of these teams and think they’ll all be playing into the 2021 NBA Playoffs comes the spring.
Atlanta has a great, deep roster featuring a superstar scorer in Trae Young. They also have great size down low with the trio of John Collins, Clint Capela, and the first-round pick Onyeka Okongwu. The Hawks feature possibly the best rotation of wings in the entire NBA with Bogdan Bogdanovic, Kevin Huerter, De’Andre Hunter, Cam Reddish, and Rajon Rondo.
I think Atlanta could sneak into the Eastern Conference Finals and possibly the Finals similar to Miami last season.
Phoenix was the NBA Bubble regular season top team, but it wasn’t enough to sneak into the Playoffs. Imagine if they had gotten that eight seed? Could they have upset the Lakers? Possibly.
They’re fun this year as well with the dynamic duo of Devin Booker and DeAndre Ayton. They also acquired Chris Paul, who is getting older but played well in Oklahoma City last season. Factor in Jae Crowder, Mikal Bridges, and their first-round pick Jalen Smith, the Suns will be primed for a run for the eighth-seed again in 2021.
And finally, the Memphis Grizzlies. I believe Ja Morant will receive some MVP votes this season and Taylor Jenkins will win NBA Coach of the Year. While the Grizzlies may not be a star-studded group, they feature a strong rotation that reminds me of the Grit-and-Grind Grizzlies from a few years back.
Morant will be joined by talented forwards Jaren Jackson Jr. and Brandon Clarke plus a solid rotation of slashers with Justice Winslow, Dillon Brooks, and Kyle Anderson. Not to mention what a draft class as the Grizzlies picked up Desmond Bane, Xavier Tillman, and Killian Tillie. Plus, the Grizzlies have a solid big to play key minutes in Jonas Valanciunas and sharp-shooter Sean McDermott to add some three-point shooting off the bench.
I’m not saying the Grizzlies are winning a title in 2021, but they’re going to give everyone problems and I can see them advancing to the second round of the playoffs even if they have to upset a higher-seed such as the Clippers, Mavericks, or yes, even the Lakers in the first round.
- The 2021 NBA Champions Will Be From The Eastern Conference
Since 2005, only two Eastern Conference teams without LeBron James have won the NBA title: Boston in 2008 and Toronto in 2019. Both teams had to take down dynasties to do so. The title chase will be a bit more wide open this season.
The Lakers are the favorite to repeat led by LeBron and Anthony Davis, but after that, five of the six teams in the betting odds according to Odds Shark, are from the Eastern Conference.
Brooklyn will make a late-run to win a title with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving if both can stay healthy. Milwaukee has the best player in the NBA with two-time MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo and a great group of shooters and will look to take the next step this season.
Boston and Philadelphia both have great, deep teams and both will be looking to possibly make a move to get even better with the 76ers eyeing James Hardin and Boston a likely contender as a trade partner for Minnesota and Karl-Anthony Towns.
Miami was the runner-up in 2020 and returns that entire team for this season and now, Jimmy Butler is even more motivated to make a run for a championship.
I don’t know who, but one of those teams will win it all in 2021 by defeating the Lakers in the NBA Finals.
More NBA Coverage from Baseline Times
- Shoot or Pass Podcast – Episode 51: MAMBA FOREVER!
- Kobe Bryant – top five basketball moments
- What did you miss in the 2020-2021 NBA Season’s first month?
- Shoot or Pass Podcast – Episode 50: Return of the Kyrie?
- Shoot or Pass Podcast – Episode 49: James Harden’s Dumpster-Fire Party
- Shoot or Pass Podcast – Episode 48: 2020-2021 NBA Opening Reactions & Overreactions