The 2021-22 NBA season begins tonight. The Crossover staff will analyze all the most important stories before what promises to be an unforgettable campaign. You can find our NBA breakthrough stories here.
Howard Beck: Nets over Nuggets
If we’ve learned anything by now (certainly questionable), it’s that no NBA season goes as expected. On talent alone, everyone predicts Lakers and Nets. But chances are one or both of them will come up short due to injury, serendipity, and / or general weirdness (hi, Kyrie). It says here that the Nets will be fine with two superstars instead of three, with an incredibly deep and versatile supporting cast. I have less confidence in the Lakers, due to age / health issues throughout the rotation (including LeBron) and Russell Westbrook’s possibly awkward fit. If the Lakers falter, the West is wide open. And the Nuggets, with the reigning MVP, great firepower (Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon) and the potential return of Jamal Murray at the end of the season, have as good a chance as anyone.
Chris Mannix: Networks on Jazz
Don’t miss out on the Brooklyn drama – even without Kyrie Irving, the Nets have two MVP candidates, the best player in the NBA and a roster packed with an interesting mix of championship-thirsty veterans (welcome back, LaMarcus Aldridge) and elastic youth. players (Cam Thomas can’t contribute this season… right?). And it is path too early to say if Irving’s season is a wash. I’m rolling the dice on the Jazz in the West, that Donovan Mitchell can take another step, that Mike Conley can stay healthy, that Jordan Clarkson will duplicate last season’s success. I think Utah will come out of a conference loaded … only to find a circular saw from Brooklyn.
Michael Pina: Nets over Clippers
Even without Irving in the lineup every night (or never again), it’s very easy to pick the Nets as champions. They’re deeper and more experienced than last season, which, even as a never-ending experiment that saw big-name talent in and out of the rotation throughout the year, ended with a better record than the Bucks and the biggest offense. in NBA history. Consider this: Durant and Harden missed 73 games combined and the team The actual shooting percentage (61%) was even higher than LeBron’s (60.2%). Brooklyn is the favorite and not particularly close.
Clippers, on the other hand, are harder to sell. When healthy, Kawhi Leonard is one of the top five talents, but a partially torn ACL will keep him out for quite some time. At the same time, it’s hard to imagine Los Angeles holding on to last year’s 3-point shots for another year – they shot 41.1% from deep, which is the fourth best in league history—Especially with Eric Bledsoe and Justise Winslow in the rotation. But if Leonard comes back at some point before the postseason starts, they have enough depth, versatility and talent to stick around as a serious threat – the seventh seed no one wants to see in Round 1.
In a conference that is at stake, they may finish better than that. Continuity is your friend, with just about every other key contributor to last year’s conference finale, including Paul George, who is unbelievably amazing. Ty Lue is a tactical genius. All they need to do is make the playoffs with Leonard healthy enough to log 35 minutes a night. If that happens, all bets are off.
Jeremy Woo: Nets on Nuggets
It is very difficult to order the preseason hierarchy in the West; There are many dangerous and quality teams, but it is difficult to identify an excellent one on paper. I’ll roll the dice with Denver and bet on the healthy return of Jamal Murray. In the East, it’s hard not to go with the Nets, with or without Kyrie, although I suspect Milwaukee will be there. I’m not feeling very good about any aspect of this, which bodes well for an intriguing regular season.
Michael Shapiro: Networks on Jazz
Count me among those who are really concerned about the Lakers’ preseason slowness, and with an imperfect field, maybe this is the year Donovan Mitchell and the Jazz make it to the Finals. But ultimately, the Eastern Conference finals will once again be the true decider of the championship.
This time around I’ll take the Nets in a rematch against Giannis Antetokounmpo & Co. Time is ticking on Durant and Harden’s prime numbers, and even with Irving’s uncertainty looming, the duo’s determination coupled with a legitimately improved rotation should elevate. to Brooklyn over the top.
Pickman: Nets over Lakers
Although it’s unclear if Kyrie Irving will play for the Nets this season, he would still take me to Brooklyn to take home this year’s title. The Nets enter this year’s campaign with perhaps the deepest roster in the league, and of course they also have two of the most dangerous players in the sport. What was perhaps a riskier Finals pick before last season appears to be a much safer pick heading into the 2021-22 season.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Phoenix made another run to the Finals outside of the Western Conference, and maybe if Jamal Murray comes back at the end of the year and hits the Nuggets. anything So Denver could also be a legitimate title contender, but it’s still tough not to pick the Lakers to win their conference. Yes, there are questions about what their rotation will look like and specifically about which veterans will and won’t play, but if LeBron James and Anthony Davis stay healthy, many of those concerns may be moot. If we were to see this matchup, it would surely be an exciting ending.
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Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.