Kevin Durant of the Brooklyn Nets / NBA

In my best Daniel Craig voice, “Ladies and gentlemen, we’re back.” The 2021-2022 NBA Season begins tonight when the Nets take on the Bucks and the Warriors face the Lakers. After an offseason full of vaccine questions, trade requests, and unhappy stars, I’m glad to put that all behind us and watch some good basketball.

Oh, wait. All of that stuff is still happening because the NBA continues to be dramatic!

Sigh.

Last week, I described all 30 teams in one sentence. This week, it’s time for my predictions.

Key Storylines

The Ben Simmons saga is on a highway to hell: Seriously, what the hell is going on in Philly?

Countless NBA players have demanded a trade, but have we ever seen a player deliberately sabotage a team? I typically favor player empowerment, but this is where I draw the line. I applaud the Sixers for fining and suspending Simmons because what he did was bullshit. However, Daryl Morey had a chance to trade Simmons for James Harden. There have been conflicting reports as to who, Morey or the Rockets, sunk the trade. I look at it this way: if Morey truly wanted to give up Simmons and trade for Harden, he could’ve pulled it off. That’s on Morey.

Now, it’s a waiting game. Morey has to realize that he won’t get a star in return for Simmons. That doesn’t mean a Simmons trade can’t happen. Would the Blazers be willing to part with McCollum? Would the Kings give up De’Aaron Fox (probably not) or Buddy Hield (probably yes)? Could the Spurs package multiple young players like Dejounte Murray and Keldon Johnson? Trade Simmons now or play hardball and wait. It’s time to shit or get off the pot.

Will Kyrie Irving Play: While the Sixers must make a decision on Simmons sooner rather than later, the Nets can show a little more patience in their approach due to the fact that the team can get by with Kevin Durant and James Harden. Whether or not you agree with the vaccine mandate in New York City is irrelevant. It’s the rule and it’s not changing anytime soon. It’s possible things change when a new mayor takes office, but are the Nets willing to wait until the end of winter/early spring to welcome back Irving? If the Nets are at the top of the East during Irving’s absence, then they’ll continue to wait until the mandate changes. If Durant or Harden get hurt and the team stumbles, then Sean Marks will have to consider trading Irving.

Will The Two Storylines Listed Above End So We Can Talk About The Other 28 NBA Teams: We need something else to discuss.

Eastern Conference

  1. Milwaukee Bucks
  2. Brooklyn Nets
  3. Atlanta Hawks
  4. Miami Heat
  5. Philadelphia 76ers
  6. Boston Celtics
  7. New York Knicks
  8. Chicago Bulls
  9. Indiana Pacers
  10. Charlotte Hornets

Eastern Conference Finals: Bucks over Nets

I would pick the Nets to win the East if the Big Three were guaranteed to play together in the playoffs. However, it’s far from a lock. I’m picking the Bucks over the Nets simply because I can’t trust Brooklyn’s Big Three to play every game. I will believe it when I see it.

Western Conference

  1. Utah Jazz
  2. Phoenix Suns
  3. Los Angeles Lakers
  4. Denver Nuggets
  5. Dallas Mavericks
  6. Portland Trail Blazers
  7. Los Angeles Clippers
  8. Golden State Warriors
  9. Memphis Grizzlies
  10. San Antonio Spurs

Western Conference Finals: Lakers over Jazz

I realize I’m a hypocrite for not trusting Brooklyn’s Big Three to stay healthy, but then believing LeBron and Anthony Davis will play every game in the NBA playoffs. LeBron only gets hurt via freak accident so as long as that doesn’t happen, he’ll play every game in the postseason. AD is a HUGE question mark, but if Frank Vogel load manages Davis throughout the season, there’s a chance he doesn’t get hurt come next Spring. It’s a huge “if,” but I’ll bet on that over Brooklyn finishing the season with their three stars.

NBA Finals: Lakers over Bucks

I truly believe LeBron has one more title in him. Year 19 is when he wins his fifth and final championship.

NBA Awards

MVP: Kevin Durant

Rookie of the Year: Cade Cunningham

Coach of the Year: Quin Snyder

Defensive Player of the Year: Giannis Antetokounmpo

Most Improved Player: Ja Morant

Sixth Man of the Year: Jordan Clarkson

Here’s to a successful (and healthy) NBA Season.

Leave your NBA predictions in the comments or tweet us, @danny_giro

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