NBA 2021 Championship Predictions
The NBA’s 75th season tips off Tuesday, Oct. 19 when the Brooklyn Nets face off against last year’s NBA Champion Milwaukee Bucks, followed by a matchup between the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors.
Here, we’ll look at the three NBA teams that have the best chances of taking home the 2021-22 Larry O’Brien trophy, who all happen to be playing on Tuesday.
The Nets had the talent to win it all last season, but injuries to both Kyrie Irving and James Harden in the playoffs made them vulnerable. They ended up falling in the second round at the hands of the Milwaukee Bucks.
The major storyline in Brooklyn this season has been Irving’s availability. It doesn’t seem that he will be on the court due to personal decisions, yet the Nets are still one of the top title contenders.
Kevin Durant may just be the best basketball player in the world, and Harden is an all-time great scorer and playmaker. That duo alone can carry this Nets team, but the front office has assembled some nice depth around them as well.
Among the offseason additions were veterans Patty Mills, Paul Millsap and LaMarcus Aldridge, all of whom should provide more depth.
This should be a premiere offensive team behind Durant and Harden, but the biggest question mark will be if they can get stops on the defensive end. The Nets ranked just 22nd in the NBA in team defensive rating last season.
If Irving returns to the court this season, the Nets go from wealthy to wealthier. If not, they are still the team to beat in the Eastern Conference anyway.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers’ superstar duo of Lebron James and Anthony Davis struggled to stay healthy last season, eventually falling to Devin Booker and the Phoenix Suns in the first-round of the playoffs. There has been nearly a full roster overhaul since.
That superstar duo became a trio, as they made a gutsy trade for explosive guard Russell Westbrook.
In free agency, the Lakers added a ton of veterans and shooters, including future Hall of Famer Carmelo Anthony.
This team may just have the most star-studded roster we have ever seen. The combined 57 All-Star appearances throughout the roster are the most in NBA history.
However, there are two things could hold them back this season despite the star power. The first being the roster’s average age of 30.9, the highest in the league, which could make them injury-prone.
The other issue could be how well the roster fits together. Westbrook’s limited shooting range paired with James’ could be tough, but James has always been able to accommodate his game to other stars’.
Los Angeles will need their shooters, such as Anthony, Trevor Ariza and Malik Monk to step up. The superstar talent is there, but the X-factor will be the three-point shooting in their title quest.
Giannis Antetokounmpo is certainly hungry for another ring after last year’s title run in Milwaukee.
He has ascended to become not only one of the best players in the league today, but already one of the best of all-time. The combination of strength, length, speed and basketball IQ makes Giannis a menace both offensively and defensively.
While he had an all-time individual playoff run last year (including a 50-point game in the Finals to take the series), Antetokounmpo was not alone in his efforts. Point guard Jrue Holiday and bucket-getter Khris Middleton stepped up big-time to deliver a championship to Milwaukee.
There is no reason to doubt this Bucks team to repeat as champions. They are excellent on both ends of the floor, and they now know what it takes to win a championship.
Also, Antetokounmpo’s shooting form looks even more fluid in the preseason thus far. That is a scary sight, considering his only weakness has always been his shooting.
If he is knocking down shots from the arc with consistency, the rest of the league might as well call it quits on the season.
Daniel Mader is a second-year majoring in digital/print journalism. To contact him, email firstname.lastname@example.org.