By Marvin A Azrak The 2021-2022 season is set to kick off on Wednesday October 20th, and it’s a full 82 game season with the play-in tournament becoming permanent. Last season, Giannis Attentakumpo led the Bucks to their first title since 1971 over Chris Paul, and the PHoenix Suns in six riveting games. But the landscape of the league has changed over the offseason, and it’s time to get you caught up so you’re prepared when the players hit the hardwood. Enjoy!
30. OKC Thunder: The Oklahoma City Thunder simply don’t have the talent to compete with many of the other teams in the Western Conference, and that’s totally okay with the draft capital they have over the next decade. Though, there is plenty to be excited about with Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Josh Giddey, who can be cornerstones for the future.
29. Detroit Pistons: Get ready for another lost season
28. Orlando Magic: It’s Jalen Suggs season
27. Houston Rockets: Okay guys, who’s worth getting excited about with Harden gone. Show me something this year!
26. Cleveland Cavaliers: TRADE KEVIN LOVE!!!
25. San Antonio Spurs: If this is truly Gregg Popovich’s final year coaching in the NBA, that alone should be enough to get attention directed at the San Antonio Spurs this year. This was a young team that fell in the play-in round to the Memphis Grizzlies last year, so at least they have that type of experience.
24. Sacramento Kings: De’Aaron Fox, Tyrese Haliburton, and Davion Mitchell. Is this year’s playoff (Or at least play-in) basketball returns to Kings fans?
23. Minneapolis Timberwolves
The development of Karl Anthony Towns, Anthony Edwards, and D’angelo Russel will depend on health, and chemistry.
22. Toronto Raptors: Back home in Canada, these Raps don’t have much to offer their fans, but bubble heAnunoby could make the all-star team, and Scottie Barnes should be fun to track amongst NBA fans.
21. Indiana Pacers: This was one of the more scrappy teams in the league last season , and it showed when they made the play-in round, before losing to the Wizards for the eighth seed. What will we see this year?
20. Washington Wizards: Will Bradley Beal stay or go? That’s the big question surrounding this group.
19. New Orleans Pelicans: The front office is officially on the hot seat after two dreadful seasons despite the additions of Zion Williamson, and Brandon Ingram. This team isn’t looked at as in rebuilding mode anymore, and must show they’re a sneaky team that can cause havoc in a playoff series if they can make it they can get past the elusive play-in round hump.
18. Charlotte Hornets: LaMelo Ball is the real deal and now he needs to prove that time and time again in order for this group to take the next step and make the postseason.
17. Chicago Bulls: With a core of Zach LaVine, Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan, and Nikola Vucevic, the Bulls have one of the most electrifying teams in the Eastern Conference. Now it’s just a matter of can they make it work, and live up to their potential of reaching the playoffs? Watch out for Cony White to make a huge splash this season.
16. Portland Trail Blazers: It honestly feels like the end of an era for these Blazers, as Damian Lillard, and CJ Mcollumn can’t lead these Balzers to a deep playoff run despite their legendary efforts. Once again, this team won’t do much aside from a low playoff seed unless more stars come to Portland.
15. Memphis Grizzlies: How good will Jareen Jackson JR be, and can Ja Morant lead the Grizzlies to a playoff series win, just a year after leading his bunch to a playoff berth as the eighth seed? Memphis in my eyes are one of the more intriguing temas out West this year with more to prove.
14. Los Angeles Clippers: Not having “The Klaw” is a huge loss for this group, and although they picked themselves up off the mat, and behind PG13, and Reggie Jackson reached the franchises first ever Conference final; what can they do over a full season?
13. New York Knicks: Last season was the most fun I’ve ever had as a fan of this organization. What was expected to be another dreadful season(22-50) turned into the teams first playoff berth & winning season since 2013 completely out of the orange, and blue. Tom Thiebadou won coach of the year in his first season atop the helm, and Julius Randle took home Most Improved player of the year. The team also saw rookies in Immanuel Quickley, and Obi Toppin shine in their playoff series against the Atlanta Hawks, while Rj Barret took a leap in his performance as well. Overall, this resurgence, and toughness had MSG rocking back to the 90’s with the loudest crowd of all 16 postseason teams as fans celebrated the revelation. Now arguably two years ahead of schedule, the Knicks signed NY-native Kemba Walker in the offseason, and now present a team that is ready to go farther than just one playoff win against the Trae Young-led Hawks.
12. Atlanta Hawks: Atlanta came within two wins of the NBA Finals last season, proving the midseason change at coach, and bringing in Nate Mcmullins was the answer to all of their problems. Led by Trae Young, and John Collins, Atlanta went 27-14 down the stretch to lock up the five seed, ice the Knicks in five games, and take down the top seeded 76ers in seven games before falling in six to the eventual champion Bucks. Still, Atlanta is now a year ahead of schedule, and has some cap room to work with. But will they survive the adjustments teams will make against them?
11. Golden State Warriors: Stephen Curry, and Klay Thomson are back together again. Watch out NBA World, here come the “Splash Brothers”!
10. Dallas Mavericks: This team can go much farther than the second round of the playoffs if Kristaps Porzingis can turn it back to his days at the mecca, because we know how good Luka Donic will be.
9. Miami Heat: The big question surrounding this team will be health. They made big – time additions in the offseason in Kyle Lowry, PJ Tucker, and Markieff Morris. Duncan Robinson and Tyler Herro will be the two X-factors for this team because they provide depth to a roster that needs it if they’re going to be contenders for kings of the East this year. Remember this is a Heat team that came within two games of a title in 2020, so who’s to say they can’t make it back to the finals again this year, and surprise the NBA world.
8. Boston Celtics: They added Dennis Schroder, Josh Richardson, and Al Horford in the offseason to go along with JAyson ATtaum and are primed for a deep run in the Eastern Conference.
7. Philadelphia 76ers: So what’s the deal with Ben Simmons? Does he like Philly or not? Sounds like he does but other reports suggest otherwise. Let’s assume he does right? Then the 76ers will be special once again this year.
6. Denver Nuggets: They won’t have Jamal Murray to begin the season which is troubling for a team that was swept off the playoffs by the Suns. However, Murray will have plenty of time to continue to coexist with Nikola Jokic, and Micheal Porter JR meanin Denver will be forced to reckon with once again this year.
5. Phoenix Suns: Yes they made the NBA finals last season, but it was largely due to injuries to the Lakers, Nuggets, Clippers, and Jazz. But it’s true injuries are a part of the game which is why Phoenix has cracked the top five for at long last breaking through in a Western Conference that had eluded them for years.
4. Brooklyn Nets: Why are they ranked fourth? Well they are currently without Kyrie Irving due to the vaccine mandate, and looked vulnerable against the reigning champion Bucks with him missing game seven last playoffs. Love him or dislike him, they need Irving to get over that hump, and bring home that maiden championship to Atlantic ave.
3. Utah Jazz: Injuries hurt a team that was first place in the West last season. If they stay healthy, expect them to be that again come this regular season.
2. Miwaulkee Bucks: They truly earned that championship last season behind Giannis Atnentekumpo,Jrue Holiday, and KHris MIddelton. With everyone back,including coach Mike Buldenhozer who was on the hot seats entering last season, i won’t be surprised if the Bucks repeat as champions.
1. Los Angeles Lakers: This past offseason, showtime added the following:
All of this starepower, and hungry veterans to go along with Lebron James, and Anthony Davis has LA set for a run of a lifetime.