2020-21 NBA season preview, predictions: Lakers set for repeat over Nets

LeBron James Anthony Davis NBA
Anthony Davis (left), LeBron James (right), and the Los Angeles Lakers are the favorites to win the 2021 NBA title.
Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Finally, some consistent sports action to occupy our winter weekday nights win. 

The 2020-21 NBA season tips off on Tuesday night with a pair of games featuring some of the game’s very best as the Brooklyn Nets host the Golden State Warriors before the battle of Los Angeles between the Clippers and defending-champion Lakers. 

A 72-game season was effectively put together despite the spiking COVID-19 pandemic, assuring a relatively normal season with the exception of two extra playoff spots per conference, prompting a four-team play-in round to get to the more traditional group of eight postseason sides. 

Compared to what the NHL is going through — a 56-game season with four strict geographic divisions that see teams exclusively play the others in their group — and MLB potentially pushing back the start of the season as we wait for the proper distribution of the vaccine, the NBA looks virtually unchanged. 

In the case of the competitive landscape of the league, not much has changed in terms of which teams are the strongest. 

The Eastern Conference has the Brooklyn Nets’ superstar duo of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving finally coming together to challenge the likes of Giannis Antentokounmpo’s Milwaukee Bucks, Jimmy Butler’s Miami Heat, and Jayson Tatum’s Boston Celtics for supremacy. 

In Philadelphia, the 76ers will have plenty to prove, too, as new head coach Doc Rivers attempts to mentor the duo of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid toward the high expectations many had of them last year. 

In the West, the Lakers are still considered the class of the NBA, though the Clippers and Denver Nuggets will have plenty to say.

One of the largest changes we’ve seen is the dissolving of the Houston Rockets, which suddenly has them on the cusp of the postseason conversation rather than them being foregone participants like they’ve so often been in recent years. 

After dismissing head coach Mike D’Antoni and parting ways with GM Daryl Morey — who is now the president of basketball ops for the 76ers — the Rockets traded Russell Westbrook to the Washington Wizards for John Wall while James Harden continues to push for a ticket out of Houston. 

While the West features some of the game’s largest and most established names ranging from LeBron James to Kawhi Leonard, to Anthony Davis, to Damian Lillard, basketball fans will keep a close eye on the continuing development of the kids — most notably Zion Williamson with the New Orleans Pelicans and Ja Morant of the Memphis Grizzlies. 

If basketball needs one thing, it’s parity. And while teams wait for their young talent to develop in an attempt to chase down the super teams, we could see much of the same in 2020-21.

Here is how amNewYork Metro thinks the new NBA season will pan out including final standings, playoffs, a champion, and individual awards:

Eastern Conference standings predictions

  1. Milwaukee Bucks
  2. Brooklyn Nets
  3. Boston Celtics
  4. Miami Heat
  5. Philadelphia 76ers
  6. Toronto Raptors
  7. Indiana Pacers
  8. Atlanta Hawks
  9. Washington Wizards
  10. Orlando Magic
  11. Chicago Bulls
  12. Charlotte Hornets
  13. New York Knicks
  14. Detroit Pistons
  15. Cleveland Cavaliers

Eastern Conference playoff results

Play-In Round

No. 7 Pacers def. No. 10 Magic

No. 8 Hawks def. No. 9 Wizards

First Round

No. 1 Bucks def. No. 8 Hawks

No. 2 Nets def. No. 7 Pacers

No. 3 Celtics def. No. 6 Raptors

No. 5 76ers def. No. 4 Heat

East Semifinals

Bucks def. 76ers

Nets def. Celtics

East Final

Nets def. Bucks

Western Conference standings predictions

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

Western Conference playoff results

Play-In Round

No. 7 Warriors def. No. 10 Grizzlies

No. 9 Pelicans def. No. 8 Suns

First Round

No. 1 Lakers def. No. 9 Pelicans

No. 2 Clippers def. No. 7 Warriors

No. 3 Nuggets def. No. 6 Blazers

No. 4 Jazz def. No. 5 Mavericks

West Semifinals

Lakers def. Jazz

Clippers def. Nuggets

West Final

Lakers def. Clippers

NBA Finals

Lakers def. Nets

2021 NBA MVP

Luka Doncic- Dallas Mavericks

Rookie of the Year

LaMelo Ball- Charlotte Hornets

Defensive Player of the Year

Ben Simmons- Philadelphia 76ers

Sixth Man of the Year

Carmelo Anthony- Portland Trail Blazers

Most Improved Player

Markelle Fultz- Orlando Magic

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