2021/2022 NBA Season Preview

2021/2022 NBA Season Preview

Reigning NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks will get the new season underway when it hosts a star-studded Brooklyn Nets team at Fiserv Forum on October 19. Many hoops fans expected Kevin Durrant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving to lead the Nets to glory last season, but it was Giannis Antetokounmpo’s Bucks that triumphed. Can they defend their crown?

The Schedule

The season will return to its normal mid-October to mid-April schedule for 2021-22. The All-Star Game will take place on February 20, 2022. A play-in tournament for teams ranked 7th through 10th in each conference will be held from April 12-15. The playoffs are slated to begin on April 16, and the NBA Finals should begin on June 2. It will be the league’s 76th season, but the NBA will commemorate its 75th anniversary after coronavirus restrictions curtailed the celebrations last year. We can expect to see a 75th anniversary diamond logo, and the NBA will publish a list of the 75 greatest players in league history. Wilson is returning as the official supplier of NBA game balls for the first time since 1983, replacing Spalding. The action will be shown on ABC, ESPN, TNT and NBA TV.

Coaching Changes

Ime Udoka has replaced Brad Stevens at the Boston Celtics after Stevens was promoted to president of basketball operations following the retirement of Danny Ainge. Jason Kidd has taken over at the Dallas Mavericks, while Rick Carlisle is in for Nate Bjorkgren at the Indiana Pacers. It is all change in New Orleans, where Willie Green has replaced Stan Van Gundy at the Pelicans. The Orlando Magic hired Jamahl Mosley to replace Steve Clifford after his three-year reign came to an end. Chauncey Billups has taken over from Terry Stotts at Portland, while Wes Unseld Jr. has replaced Scott Brooks at the Wizards.

Top Offseason Moves

The Lakers made one of the biggest moves of the offseason by bringing in Russell Westbrook from the Wizards. Kyle Lowry joined the Heat, who went all the way to the conference finals last season. The Bulls added DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo ball, which should improve their prospects for the year ahead. The Houston Rockets kicked off their rebuilding process by adding Daniel Theis from Chicago, Jalen Green as a second overall pick, Alperin Sengun, Usman Garuba and Josh Christopher. The Clippers added Eric Bledsoe, Justise Winslow, Keon Johnson and Javon Preston to play with Kawhi Leonard.

The Favorites

The Nets are the outright favorites to win the NBA Championship after adding Patty Mills, DeAndre Bembry, James Johnson, Jevon Carter, Cameron Thomas and Day’Ron Sharpe to a talented roster. The sportsbooks make the Nets the clear favorites to win the Eastern Conference ahead of the Bucks, the 76ers and the Heat. The Lakers are the second favorites to win the championship after bringing in Russell Westbrook to play alongside LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Carmelo Anthony. They are the favorites to win the Western Conference, with the Clippers installed as a relative long shot, despite some interesting summer moves. The Golden State Warriors are the second favorites in the west as the Splash Brothers are set to be reunited on court and Draymond Green is still going strong.

MVP Contenders

Luka Doncic is the favorite to win another MVP title after delivering a series of outstanding performances last season. The sportsbooks see Kevin Durant as his main rival at +700, with former winners Antetokounmpo and Stephen Curry also in the mix, along with Joel Embiid, Damian Lillard and Nikola Jokic. LeBron, who is clearly in a very strong team, is a +1500 outsider with some sportsbooks.
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