Bold NBA Predictions For the 2020-2021 Season
22 December 2020
With NBA action set to tip off for the 2020-2021 season, predictions for this season are plentiful. But bold predictions are much tougher to come by, as going out on a limb is difficult in a league where the best teams so often win the title. Don’t worry, though, as these bold NBA picks will get you thinking outside the box as the action gets started in the Association this year.
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The Sixers Won’t Survive Round One
Philadelphia has been the beneficiary of a ton of hype heading into each of the last few seasons. Led by young talents in Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, the Sixers are usually a trendy pick to get to the NBA Finals. That is the case again this year. But the Sixers are not going to get the Finals this year. In fact, they are not going to get past the first round of the postseason.
The Sixers are one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, boasting a defensive rating in the top eight in the league last season. The problem for Philly is their offense, which is middle of the pack in the NBA. Unless Ben Simmons learned how to shoot a jump shot this offseason, the Sixers will continue to struggle to get buckets in the clutch and will fall apart in the playoffs again.
The Hawks Won’t Match the Hype
One of the teams expected to make a huge leap forward this season is the Atlanta Hawks. They added Bogdan Bogdanovich, Rajon Rondo and Danilo Gallinari to join an exciting young nucleus led by Trae Young. The problem for the Hawks is that those moves will not be enough to vault them into playoff contention in what is becoming a strong Eastern Conference.
Atlanta had the third worst defensive rating and net rating in the NBA last season, and the moves that they made this offseason are not going to be enough to change that. Young is going to make another leap forward as a player this season, but without a quality second banana on the roster, the Hawks are going to miss the postseason for yet another year in the East.
The Jazz Will Be a Legit Contender
The best series of the 2020 playoffs in the NBA bubble was the first round matchup between the Denver Nuggets and Utah Jazz. And while the Jazz fell in that series by the slimmest of margins, they should be just as dangerous this year if not more so. The Jazz are virtually the same squad as last year, only with Derrick Favors back in the picture and a healthy Bojan Bogdanovich. That means bad news for the rest of the league.
In the long run, the new contract that Rudy Gobert signed will be an albatross that is hard for the Jazz to overcome. But for this one season, Utah shouldn’t be crippled by the fact that they are paying a defensive specialist over $200 million over the next few seasons. When Mike Conley has no choice but to leave next season, then it will become a concern.
The Lakers Will Cruise to a Title
With so many intriguing teams in the NBA this season, there are several teams thought to be viable championship contenders. But the Los Angeles Lakers are going to soar ahead of the competition this season. With Dennis Schroder and Montrezl Harrell joining a championship roster, it would take a level of performance from the other contenders that they just are not capable of. As a result, the Lakers are the title favorites at +275 to win it all according to NBA betting odds.
Heading into this season, the flaws among the other elite teams in the league are too much to ignore. The Bucks can’t get quality scoring consistently in the playoffs. The Clippers have a cultural disaster on their hands. And the Brooklyn Nets are led by two of the biggest head cases in the NBA today. LeBron James and Anthony Davis are too good a nucleus to deny given the depth around them this season with those issues in mind. They will not be challenged in the postseason en route to a repeat.
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The dark horse of the 2020-2021 season might be the Dallas Mavericks. The Mavs finished seventh in the Western Conference last season and were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs. This year, they will have a more developed Luka Doncic, who is the frontrunner to win the MVP. The Mavs are going to have a better seed this season and should put a scare into the top two in the West.
The Houston Rockets are going to be the NBA’s biggest disappointment this season. Trading for John Wall meant that the Rockets put a more fragile star next to James Harden than they had before. That, combined with the animosity between Harden and the Rockets organization can only lead to bad things in a conference that is too competitive for off-court issues to infiltrate a team.
It is entirely possible that James Harden is going to be traded this season. But the amount of pieces that a team would need to send Houston to get him might make that impossible. It will be interesting to see if another contender can come up with enough capital to acquire Harden and shake up the league’s balance of power.