The NBA is back! Here’s our predictions for the season


Miles Johnson and Alex Smith

The NBA began its 75th season on October 19, and some teams like the Suns and Warriors have gotten off to fast starts while others like the Magic and Rockets are struggling early. Regardless of the standings now, though, there’s still plenty of teams out there who have their hat in the ring for a chance at the playoffs in April, especially with the Play-In-Tournament.

The league introduced the Play-In-Tournament last season, which features the 7th-10th seeds competing for a spot in the first round of the playoffs. The two winners of the tournament earn the 7 and 8 seeds while the two losers head home.

Here are some of our predictions for the upcoming season.

Eastern Conference 

Last Year’s Standings

2022 Play-in Tournament Prediction

7: New York Knicks

8: Washington Wizards

9: Indiana Pacers

10: Charlotte Hornets 

The Knicks entered the playoffs last year as the 4th seed, but the other three teams will all be brand new to the field. The Knicks and Celtics will battle all season for the coveted 6th seed, but we think Boston squeaks by and avoids the Play-In Tournament. 

Watch out for the Hornets, who have a reloaded, young, and energetic roster. We wouldn’t be surprised to see them advance to the first round of the playoffs as the 8th seed and the Kicks as the 7th seed.

2022 Playoff Prediction

1: Milwaukee Bucks

2: Brooklyn Nets

3: Philadelphia 76ers

4: Atlanta Hawks

5: Miami Heat

6: Boston Celtics

As Atlanta fans know after watching last year’s semifinals, the 76ers are a mess. The 5th-seeded Hawks upset them when they were the 1 seed last season, and since that final game, the controversy with Ben Simmons has gotten even worse. He’s not currently playing with the team and is in a feud with their front office. As a result of the turmoil, we think they slip to the 3rd seed this season.

It should be no surprise that we project the 2021 Champion Milwaukee Bucks to earn the 1st seed this season. As long as their starters stay healthy, they’ll lead the way with the 2nd-seeded Nets.  

The Hawks shocked the world last year as the 5th seed when they upset both the Knicks and 76ers on their way to the Eastern Conference Finals. Their talented roster isn’t a surprise anymore, and now expectations are higher. We think they’ll earn the 4th seed, followed by the Heat and Celtics.

2022 Eastern Conference Finals Prediction 

Atlanta Hawks vs. Brooklyn Nets

We think the Hawk will make a return to the finals. They’ve proven they’re a threat with Trae Young, Clint Capella, and Danilo Gallinari, but will that be enough to knock off the Nets with their perennial all-stars like Kevin Durant and James Harden?  

Western Conference

Last Year’s Standings

2022 Play-in Tournament Prediction

7: Memphis Grizzlies

8: Portland Trail Blazers

9: Los Angeles Clippers

10: New Orleans Pelicans

The play-in tournament opened up a lot of doors in the West last season. Teams on the edge of the playoffs last year like the Grizzlies and Lakers will get their shot, while teams who didn’t make it like the Pelicans, Warriors, and the Timberwolves will have theirs too. 

The Pelicans did not do much to get better this offseason. The only reason they have a chance at making the play-in spot is the development of their young core built around Zion Williamson and Brandon Ingram.

The TrailBlazers have the most clutch basketball player in the world: Damian Lillard. He’s made game-winner after game-winner, and if he can shoot any shot on the court on the biggest stages, who says he can’t will a Blazers team to the 8th seed in a Western Conference that looks stronger than ever.

Explosive point guard Ja Morant led the Memphis Grizzlies to an 8th seed spot last year. They kept the same young core, and with a healthy Jaren Jackson Jr. the Grizzlies look scary. One of the sleeper teams in the West, watch out for this young Memphis squad.

2022 Playoff Prediction

1: Los Angeles Lakers

2: Golden State Warriors

3: Phoenix Suns

4: Utah Jazz

5: Denver Nuggets

6: Dallas Mavericks

Luka Dončić has carried this Mavericks team to the playoffs two years in a row now, and since he’s done it before, he can do it again. We fully expect Luka to have an MVP-level season.

The Nuggets have reigning MVP Nikola Jokic, and the only way they don’t make the playoffs is a freak accident. They might have lost star guard Jamal Murray, but with scoring talent Michael Porter Jr. on the wing, the Nuggets remain a serious threat.

The Jazz crumbled in the playoffs last season, and now questions arise if they are just a regular season team. They have a lot of promise with standout talent Donovan Mitchell and reigning defensive player of the year Rudy Gobert. The Suns hope to return to the finals this year. Led by the scoring talent Devin Booker, and the “Point God” Chris Paul, the two guards have one of the best supporting cast in DeAndre Ayton, and Mikal Bridges.

The Splash Brothers are back, or at least they will be soon. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson will finally share the court after two years of injuries. Thompson tore his right achilles in the 2019 NBA Finals against the Raptors. A year later he couldn’t even get minutes in an NBA game before tearing his ACL. The Warriors were on the brink of the playoffs last season, and with Thompson and the addition of 7th overall draft pick Johnathon Kuminga, they’re back in the title race.

Over the offseason, the Lakers created one of the most polarizing big 3’s in the league with LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook. They also picked up veteran Carmelo Anthony, and they made a reunion with several players including Trevor Ariza, Rajon Rondo, Kent Bazemore, and Dwight Howard (who’s on his third stint with the Lakers). The Lakers made a lot of moves, and expect them to pay off. This revamped roster will shake up the West this year.

2022 Eastern Conference Finals Prediction 

Last year the Suns and Clippers faced off with Phoenix winning in six games, but this year the competition is a little deeper. We expect the top two seeded teams to play in the Conference Finals: the Warriors and Lakers. This series is a bit of a call back to when Steph Curry. with the help of Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, faced off in the finals against Lebron in 2016. Lebron and the Warriors have a deep history and we expect a series as exciting as the legendary 3-1 comeback from Lebron with the Cavs to take the Lakers to the championship.

Top 5 Title Contenders

1: Lakers

2: Nets

3: Bucks

4: Warriors

5: Suns

Award Races

Most Valuable Player: With Nugget’s center Nikola Jokic winning the MVP last year, it is apparent that point guards aren’t the only players who can do it all. The league is changing and the role of the center is evolving. For the 2021 season The Goat himself LeBron James is going to show the world why he is The Goat, and he will regain his NBA title and win MVP, with Damian Lillard trailing behind followed by Giannis Antetokounmpo and Luka Dončić.   

Defensive Player of the Year: Rudy Gobert won the award for the third time last year, but after he got exposed in the playoffs last season, people are not so sure he will get it again. This season, look to 2021 Finals MVP Giannis Antetoukoumpo. The Greek Freak got both MVP and DPOY in 2020, and he sets the bar for himself higher every year, and he’s the obvious front runner for this award.

Rookie of the Year: The big question is Cade Cunningham or Jalen Green. These two were the top two picks in the draft, and there is already some competitive heat between the two. It will be fun to see where this rivalry goes.

Trade Rumors

Ben Simmons: The 76ers have a mess on their hands. Ben Simmons was crucified by the media after he passed the ball when he had a wide open dunk, one that could have won them the game, in a crucial game seven against the Hawks. Simmons says he will refuse to play for the 76ers, and hasn’t shown up for training camps. The 76ers plan to fine him for not showing up (and if he continues the fines could reach into the millions). Simmons cut off communication with teammates, staff, and ownership, but recently tried to reconnect with the team to no avail as he was kicked out of practice and has yet to play a game for the Sixers.

The only question that lingers, what team will he go to? There are many potential suitors for the 6’11” 240 lb point forward due to his defensive versatility, but the teams in the front running for the disgruntled star are the Portland Trail-Blazers and the Minnesota Timberwolves.

John Wall: Houston’s John Wall is set to make $41.25 million over the next season. The salary cap is 112.4 million, meaning Wall takes up a third of the Rocket’s salary. Wall and the Rockets have agreed to part ways, the only question left is where will he go.

Not a lot of teams can take on that big of a salary. Two of the teams that can, the Pistons and Thunder, are in the middle of a rebuild. Wall would be of no value to them, so there is a huge question mark on where he will end up at the end of this season.