NBA 2021-22 Season Preview: Nets still seen as team to beat

Nets Bucks Durant Giannis season preview
Kevin Durant and the Nets could win their first-ever title this year.
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

A full 82-game schedule is back in the cards for the NBA as the 2021-22 season tips off on Tuesday night.

The Milwaukee Bucks are attempting to defend their first title in 50 years, but looming powerhouses not only in the Eastern Conference, but the NBA, will give Giannis Antetokounmpo and Co. a run for their money.

Even without Kyrie Irving, the Brooklyn Nets — headlined by Kevin Durant and James Harden — look as though they’re one of the strongest teams in the league while out West, the Los Angeles Lakers are going to have their hands full navigating through a conference that features upstarts in the Utah Jazz and Denver Nuggets, along with the defending conference champion Phoenix Suns.

LeBron James has extra help though in the form of Russell Westbrook, adding to a Big 3 of him and Anthony Davis — that’s why we see them as the favorite to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals.

But are they good enough to take down a restocked Nets team? Here is how we see the 2021-22 season playing out:

2021-22 Eastern Conference predicted standings

  1. Milwaukee Bucks
  2. Brooklyn Nets
  3. Philadelphia 76ers
  4. Atlanta Hawks
  5. Boston Celtics
  6. Miami Heat
  7. New York Knicks
  8. Indiana Pacers
The Philadelphia 76ers are expected to be contenders this season.Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Eastern Conference 1st Round

  • Bucks def. Pacers
  • Nets def. Knicks
  • 76ers def. Heat
  • Hawks def. Celtics

Eastern Conference 2nd Round

  • Bucks def. Hawks
  • Nets def. 76ers

Eastern Conference Finals

  • Nets def. Bucks

2021-22 Western Conference predicted standings

  1. Utah Jazz
  2. Los Angeles Lakers
  3. Denver Nuggets
  4. Phoenix Suns
  5. Golden State Warriors
  6. Los Angeles Clippers
  7. Dallas Mavericks
  8. Portland Trail Blazers

Western Conference 1st Round

  • Jazz def. Blazers
  • Lakers def. Mavericks
  • Nuggets def. Clippers
  • Warriors def. Suns

Western Conference 2nd Round

  • Jazz def. Warriors
  • Lakers def. Nuggets

Western Conference Finals

  • Lakers def. Jazz

NBA Finals

  • Nets def. Lakers


NBA 2021-22 individual award predictions

MVP: Luka Doncic, Mavericks

Rookie of the Year: Cade Cunningham, Pistons

Defensive Player of the Year: Rudy Gobert, Jazz

Sixth Man of the Year: Patty Mills, Nets

Most Improved Player: Michael Porter Jr., Nuggets

Executive of the Year: Steve Nash, Nets

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