In previous years, the NBA has seemed dull. With super teams like the Miami Heat, Golden State Warriors, and Cleveland Cavaliers all forming in the 2010s, it seemed as though there was a lack of competition. The trend of super teams still has not died, as multiple All-Stars and former All-Stars are teaming up. However, the 2021-2022 NBA season is chock full of super teams, young cores, and dark horses, making it a year that will be filled with headlines and excitement. Why you may ask? Let’s break it down:
There isn’t one team that is guaranteed to win this year. We have the 2021 NBA champion Milwaukee Bucks, led by Giannis Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton, and Jrue Holiday, trying to defend their title. We have the Brooklyn Nets, seeking revenge and trying to claim a title that could have been there’s if injuries hadn’t plagued James Harden and Kyrie Irving in the 2021 NBA playoffs. The Los Angeles Lakers still have Anthony Davis and LeBron James, yet have totally rearranged their roster with older veterans and returning guys, including Dwight Howard and Carmelo Anthony. The Phoenix Suns will be trying to avenge their loss in the finals, and they still have nearly the same roster from last year (including the Point God Chris Paul). The Golden State Warriors will have Klay Thompson back (finally), in addition to Steph Curry and Draymond Green. The Miami Heat have assembled a super team of sorts, teaming up Kyle Lowry, Victor Oladipo, Jimmy Butler, and Bam Adebayo, as well as having a great young shooting core of Tyler Herro and Duncan Robinson. So, there’s no shortage of teams that could win the title.
There are lots of dark horses that could make a surprise trip to the Conference Finals, and maybe even the NBA Finals. The Atlanta Hawks are one example; they did it last year, can they do it again with another year of experience and new additions Jalen Johnson and Sharife Cooper? The New York Knicks now have Kemba Walker and Evan Fournier in addition to Julius Randle, RJ Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, and a decent roster. The Boston Celtics could also surprise some teams, as in addition to healthy All-Stars Jayson Tatum and Jalen Brown, they picked up both Josh Richardson and Dennis Schroder. Who knows, maybe Tacko Fall will get to play more than 10 minutes per game. Could the Utah Jazz finally get over the hump, and can Donovan Mitchell lead the Jazz to the Finals under the watchful eye of Dwayne Wade?
What NBA titan will win NBA MVP this year? Will it be Antetokounmpo, fresh off two MVPs, a DPOY, and now a Finals MVP? Will it be Joel Embiid, who finished second fiddle to Nikola Jokic last year? Will Jokic himself become one of the highly coveted back-to-back MVPs? Will Curry have another monster season? Could Damian Lillard shock the world and win it all? All of these names and so many more will be competing their hearts out for the award, and it is sure to be a dogfight.
There are sure to be lots of headlines as well. Ben Simmons still has not been traded from the 76ers, and it’s clear the franchise and Simmons currently mix as well as oil and water. Lillard has not yet demanded a trade from the Portland Trail Blazers, although NBA teams are watching his every move like stalkers, waiting to pounce and offer up a good trade package. Kristaps Porzingis is another disgruntled NBA player, and it clear he and Luka Doncic can not co-exist in Dallas. To add onto all of this, the 2022 NBA Free Agency class is going to be a very disappointing one, as there are lots of good role players and a few All-Stars, but no players that would completely change the NBA if they left teams. The best players available that probably won’t sign extensions this year are Russell Westbrook, Zach LaVine, John Collins, and Collin Sexton. This means that chances are, there will be a lot of action at the trade deadline, and we will see some pretty big trades go down.
The NBA also has a great incoming rookie class. It’s going to be great to see how players like Davion Mitchell, James Bouknight, Cam Thomas, and Jalen Johnson adjust their game from the summer league. Then there’s the highly touted Rookie of the Year race between what will most likely be Cade Cunningham and Jalen Green. For those not sure who will win the award, I can tell you now, chances are it will be Cunningham. With only a few exceptions, the Rookie of the Year award generally goes to a point guard. If we look back at the last decade. In 2009 it was Derrick Rose, in 2010 it was Tyreke Evans, in 2012 it was Kyrie Irving, in 2013 it was Lillard over Davis, in 2017 it was Malcolm Brogdon, in 2018 it was Simmons, in 2019 it was Ja Morant, and in 2020 it was LaMelo Ball, despite the fact he played something like 20 less games then Anthony Edwards. Assuming both of these guys aren’t massive busts, history favors Cunningham.
Even for teams that most likely won’t make it past the first or second round, they have players to be excited about as well. The Sacramento Kings have a three-headed monster at point guard, with Mitchell, Tyrese Haliburton, and De’Aaron Fox (plus Marvin Bagley is a free agent next year). The Indiana Pacers have an incredible core of All-Star Domantas Sabonis, Caris Levert, Brogdon, Myles Turner, T.J. McConnell, Cassius Stanley, and lottery pick Chris Duarte. The Charlotte Hornets are going to be one of the most fun teams to watch in all of basketball, with Ball, Miles Bridges, PJ Washington, Gordon Hayward, Kelly Oubre Jr and…. LiAngelo Ball? Maybe, you never know. The Washington Wizards have a ton of depth at every position, including Spencer Dinwiddie and Raul Neto at the point, Bradley Beal as their starting shooting guard, Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Deni Avdija, rookie Corey Kispert, Rui Hachimura, Montrezl Harrell, Thomas Bryant, and Daniel Gafford.
Every NBA team and every NBA fan has something to be excited about or for this upcoming season, and I think the league’s revenue will sore from that. So will fan’s interest in the games, because even if there are super teams, they’re balanced super teams, without towering over others. But what do you think? Let me know in the comments below, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!