My Unusual 2021-22 Award Predictions

Every year, people make predictions for who they think will win various NBA awards, such as the MVP Award, ROTY, DPOY, and many more. Many websites have betting odds for who will win these awards, which lots of times are accurate, but other times, not as much. In this blog post, I will make my predictions for the end of season awards, but with one catch: none of my predictions can be for the players or teams that have the best odds. I have to pick players or teams that aren’t favored, and the betting odds that I will be using are from Vegas Insider. With that, let’s get to it.

 

MVP: Stephen Curry

Credit to Kyle Terada of USA Today Sports for Picture

According to Vegas Insider, Luka Doncic has the best MVP odds for this season, followed by Joel Embiid and Kevin Durant. I can understand why Doncic would be favored, but aside from the fact that I can’t choose him, I wouldn’t have had him as my MVP pick anyway. With a coaching change in Jason Kidd, I think the Mavericks are going to take some time to figure out their identity and how they play, and if they aren’t at the top of the standings, it’ll be difficult for Doncic to claim the award. On the other hand, we saw Curry’s resurgence towards the end of last year, when he won the scoring title and averaged a career high 32 points per game. The Warriors have been off to a hot start, and Curry has been leading the charge. Plus, with reports of how Curry has been training this offseason, I think he’ll be better then ever. The Warriors will get a boost once Klay Thompson returns, and even though he has the fifth best odds, I think Curry will win MVP.

 

Rookie of the Year: Scottie Barnes

Credit to Michael Dwyer of AP Images for Picture

Cade Cunningham has the best odds to win the ROTY Award (+250), followed closely by Jalen Green (+300). While these rookies have a very good chance to become All-Stars down the road, chances are that none of these rookies are going to make a huge impact on their team immediately. It’ll come down to stats, consistency, and how quickly these players adjust to the NBA play style. Barnes, who has the fourth best odds, is averaging 17.7 points, 8.3 rebounds, and 2.2 assists, while being a nightmare matchup for me in my ESPN fantasy leagues. The Raptors are only 3-3 right now, but no one is expecting them to be contenders in such a stacked Eastern Conference. He has a positive box plus/minus, which is another good stat, and given that Cunningham has only just started his career and Green is on one of the worst teams in the NBA, I think Barnes has a very good chance to win this year.

 

6th Man of the Year: Derrick Rose

Credit to Steven Ryan of Getty Images for Picture

At the top of the odds for 6th Man of the Year are Jordan Clarkson, Kevin Huerter, and Patty Mills. I would have Mills as my 6th Man of the Year because I really like what I’ve seen from him so far, but Kyrie Irving isn’t going to be playing this season (unless he gets the COVID-19 vaccine), and Mills may be a starter for a majority of the season, disqualifying him from this contest. Rose is going to be a 6th man behind Kemba Walker, who he has a history of playing at Madison Square Garden. Rose isn’t the athletic, explosive player he once was, but he’s shown he’s a very valuable addition to have come off the bench. If the Knicks have a good enough record, I see no reason why Rose can’t win the award.

 

Defensive Player of the Year: Joel Embiid

Credit to Tim Nwachukwu of Getty Images for Picture

At the top of the DPOY odds are Rudy Gobert and… Ben Simmons????? These odds were made on October 8th, before the season, but that still sounds very wrong given Simmons’ current situation. However, I do believe that his teammate, Embiid, will win DPOY this year. Without Simmons, the team’s overall defense is going to go down, meaning Embiid will have to step up. Considering that Embiid was an MVP candidate last year (finished second in MVP voting) in large part due to his defense, I think he can win DPOY, assuming that his level of play stays the same or improves.

 

Most Improved Player: Mo Bamba

Credit to Brian Babineau of Getty Images for Picture

The players with the best odds to win MIP this year are Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (+700), Zion Williamson (+700), Michael Porter Jr (+750), Kevin Porter Jr, Zach LaVine, Collin Sexton, Christian Wood, Jarrett Jackson Jr, Jaylen Brown, John Collins, Chris Boucher, and De’Aaron Fox. Some of these I don’t understand at all, and some I do, but I think that people are sleeping on Bamba. Many people thought that Bamba was a bust only a few seasons after he came out of the University of Texas, but that is far from the truth. In his first three seasons in the NBA, Bamba started in 6 games, largely due to the fact that he was playing behind All-Star center Nikola Vucevic. Bamba also had to deal with some nagging injuries, so in his first fully healthy season as a starter, I expect Bamba to thrive, and run away with this award. The only thing that will keep him from being a clear favorite in my mind is Orlando’s record, a reason why I think everyone is sleeping on him.

 

Coach of the Year: Wes Unseld Jr

Credit to Jonathon Newton of The Washington Post for Picture

The favorites for the Coach of the Year award are Steve Nash, Erik Spolestra, and Billy Donovan. However, I don’t think any of the coaches with the best odds will win this award. I think it will be Washington Wizards Head Coach Wes Unseld, Jr. Son of Wes Unseld, this is his first year as an NBA Head Coach, and he has already led his Wizards to a 5-1 record, the team’s first since 2006. The team has gelled very well so far, and the only loss the team faced was on the road against Brooklyn, who is a title favorite. The Wizards have been horrible recently under Head Coach Scott Brooks, and if Unseld, Jr, can lead this team to a high playoff seed, he will easily become a Coach of the Year contender.

 

Championship: Golden State Warriors

Credit to Clutch Points for Picture

The Lakers and Nets are tied for the best odds to win the 2022 NBA Championship, but because of injuries, drama, and how old the Lakers are, I don’t think they will win it all. If Thompson comes back healthy and Jordan Poole continues to produce at the level he is, I don’t see any reason why Curry can’t win a championship, the MVP, and a Finals MVP this year. The Warriors also have depth with rookies Jonathon Kuminga and Moses Moody, wing players Andrew Wiggins, Otto Porter Jr, and more. They’re 4-1 to start the season, and if they can build off of that, then expect to see them playing in June.

 

Which of these predictions do you think will come true, and which won’t? Let me know in the comments below, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!

 

 

 

 

 

A Preview of the Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic are in the middle of a rebuild, and after trading Nikola Vucevic last season, it seems as though that rebuild is going as planned. Orlando has a ton of young players and draft picks, including Jalen Suggs, the 5th pick of the 2021 NBA Draft. However, the Magic still have a fair amount of injuries as well as guards, and chances are they will end up towards the bottom of the Eastern Conference. Today, we’re going to break down the Orlando Magic, and see what we can realistically expect from them in the upcoming 2021-22 season.

Credit to ClutchPoints for Picture

First off, let’s talk about Orlando’s point guards. Through trades, Orlando has acquired Markelle Fultz and Michael Carter-Williams, both of whom were considered busts for their separate reasons but found new life in Orlando. The Magic drafted Suggs this year, and in 2020, they drafted Cole Anthony out of the University of North Carolina. They also have RJ Hampton, who they acquired from the Denver Nuggets in the Aaron Gordon trade, and can play both point guard and shooting guard. That’s five incredible point guards, all of whom have loads of potential and have yet to reach their athletic prime.

Orlando also has some great shooting guards, starting off with Gary Harris, also acquired in the Gordon deal from Denver. E’Twaun Moore is a 31 year old veteran who last played for the Phoenix Suns (who went to the NBA Finals), and can be a great locker room guy. At small forward, the Magic also have depth, although due to injuries, that spot is a little bit limited. Terrence Ross will surely be the starting small forward, as he has been great for the franchise ever since arriving from Toronto, averaging around 16 points per game. Jonathon Isaac is another great small forward (he can also play power forward), and they have their 10th overall pick of the 2021 draft, Franz Wagner, who stands 6’9″.

One of the most exciting things about the Magic this year is that they will have something only a few other teams have… two brothers playing on the same team! Yes, after Moe Wagner was bounced around at the trade deadline, he found his way to Orlando, where Franz was also drafted! Since they don’t play the same position (unlike Marcus Morris and Markieff Morris), we may get to see the brothers play at the same time, which would be amazing. Unfortunately, other than Wagner, the Magic don’t have much depth at the four, so when Isaac returns, he might be spending some time there.

Credit to Nic Antaya for Picture

The Magic have three quality centers in Wendell Carter Jr, Robin Lopez, and Mohamed Bamba, and out of everyone, I think Magic fans want to see Bamba play the most. Drafted in 2018, Bamba has not been able to showcase his full potential as a lanky, 7’0″ center because when Vucevic was on the Magic, he was a two-time All-Star, and got the lion’s share of minutes. I sincerely hope that Lopez and Carter, Jr, don’t start over Bamba, because he deserves his time to shine and show the rest of the NBA what he can do (although Magic fans should be excited about Lopez’s hook shot; instant offense!)

The Magic are one of the teams that hired a new Head Coach this offseason, and his name is Jamahl Mosey. Mosey is 42 years old, which means he is the age of a player who just retired or a few years into retirement; Mosey played college basketball at the University of Colorado and four years professionally overseas. Having a young coach will be great for the Magic, as the players and coach can learn from their mistakes together. This is Mosey’s first gig as a Head Coach, because for the last seven seasons, Mosey has been an assistant coach for the Dallas Mavericks, Denver Nuggets, and Cleveland Cavaliers. It will also be a lower pressure environment, meaning Mosey can make decisions without worrying if he will lose his job because of a slip-up.

Overall, the Magic have a great young team with many core players that could one day become All-Stars. Since so many players are the same age, they will form bonds that they wouldn’t with grown men who are sometimes 10 years older then themselves. The chemistry will be apparent on-court, and if things continue to go as planned, the Magic could be back in the Finals by the mid- to late-2020s.

But, on the slight chance they are looking short-term and want to win now, I say blow it all up.

What? Didn’t I just get through saying how set they are for the future if they play their hand right? Yes, but if the Magic are desperate to win now, it wouldn’t be difficult to swing a trade for a player of All-Star level talent. The Magic have an excess of guards and future draft picks to give away in trades, while still keeping enough that they are not ruined for the future. For teams that want an All-Star caliber player back in return, this idea may not work (so no Ben Simmons to the Magic deal). But for teams like the Indiana Pacers (with Domantas Sabonis) and Toronto Raptors (Pascal Siakam), a trade for an All-Star who could be disgruntled could solve a lot of problems; and Orlando isn’t a small market by any means. In fact, a trade for Sabonis or Siakam could be very beneficial assuming they didn’t give away all of their assets, because they would then have an All-Star power forward and a bunch of young guys who could help the team win. If I were the Raptors, I’d do a trade for Siakam to the Magic today.

However, assuming something that dramatic doesn’t happen, their best course of action would be for the young players to spend a year becoming a tight brotherhood, and becoming a fun team to watch… even if it means losing games. Let’s be honest, the Magic aren’t going to be contenders this year, and if they are one of the worst teams in the league as many predict, then they have a chance at solving their power forward dilemma through the draft. Somehow, there are two generational talents (assuming they are both one-and-dones) in the 2022 NBA Draft, and both of them are power forwards: Emoni Bates and Chet Holmgren.

Credit to Sports Illustrated

Bates has been issued the next LeBron James/Zion Williamson label, as he was on the cover of Sports Illustrated at 15 and has been well over six feet tall and able to dunk a basketball since he was in the 7th grade. Holmgren played with Suggs in high school, and is going to the same college that Suggs went to for a year: the University of Gonzaga. If the Magic are lucky enough to select him, they will have unbelievable chemistry.

If the Magic earn a top two pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, then in 3-4 years, they could be legitimate title contenders. However, for this upcoming season, I don’t expect them to win more then 20 games. I know this sounds harsh, but look at the Eastern Conference. The Nets are still the Nets with Kyrie Irving, James Harden, and Kevin Durant; the Bucks are coming off a championship with Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton; the 76ers still have Joel Embiid and whoever they trade for Simmons; the Miami Heat have Kyle Lowry, Victor Oladipo, and Jimmy Butler; even teams that may end up being much lower in the standings, like the Cleveland Cavaliers and Chicago Bulls, have great players like Evan Mobley, Collin Sexton, Darius Garland, and Jarrett Allen, as well as DeMar DeRozan, Lonzo Ball, Zach LaVine, and Vucevic for the Bulls. It’s also probably the best for the Magic if they don’t win over 20 games, because while the NBA does not like its franchises losing games on purpose, it does sometimes benefit teams. In this case, I’m sad to say I don’t think the tanking will be intentional. If they’re not dead last in the East, I’ll be surprised.

What do you think about the Orlando Magic? Let me know in the comments below, don’t forget to follow the NBA Blog, and as always, have an awesome day!