The 2021-22 NBA Season is finally underway, and this season is shaping up to be one of the best in recent memory. After years of parity, the league is shifting and creating a more even landscape. There is a lot set to change this season, and I’m determined to get to the bottom of it. I compiled a list of ten bold predictions that I believe will occur this year. Grab your popcorn, take a screenshot, and prepare for EVERY SINGLE ONE OF THESE to be right when it’s all said and done.
1. SGA Emerges as a Top-10 Young Player in the NBA
Sam Presti decided to go all-in on a rebuild and has transformed Oklahoma City into a wasteland with a stack of draft picks to mask the pain. The Thunder were so worried about their near .500 start to the season last year they stretched out Shai Gilgeous-Alexander’s injury because of how well he played while on the court.
SGA was absurd last year, getting to the basket more than any other player in basketball when he played. He had 50/40/80 splits which are incredibly impressive for someone taking over 16 shots a game. Pair this with his excellent passing, and you have one of the most talented young guards in the game.
This season Shai should be able to play more throughout the season, regardless if he ruins Presti’s master plan of getting the best players in the world who are currently in 5th grade. His usage rate of 23% will surely increase, which will help his numbers look that much better. He’ll be catapulted in the same conversation as young guards like Ja Morant and De’Aaron Fox and, my feeling is, surpass them as well. SGA is legit – buy your stock now before it’s too late.
2. Collin Sexton Loses Favor in Cleveland
I want to preface my following statements by saying Collin Sexton oozes with talent. He has a fiery competitor spirit and the ability to be one of the best point guards in the game one day. With that being in mind, he is grossly overrated.
He seemingly is full of himself in Cleveland, and with a talented young core, puts everyone in jeopardy of stunting their growth as a team. His lack of willingness to pass last year was so bad that opposing players would reportedly joke with Cavs players that Sexton wouldn’t give them the ball. To make everything worse, Darius Garland is probably better with the ball in his hands.
Adding Evan Mobley and Lauri Markennan to the fold means more players need to be given touches on the offensive end. Sexton doesn’t maximize productivity or make the other players around him better. Cleveland is trending upwards and can’t afford to have their direction derailed. I’m not saying he will be dealt – but I expect drama in “The Land” this season.
3. Jason Kidd Flops in Dallas
I am all for giving people second chances, but not as strong of a believer for “third times a charm.” Jason Kidd royally stunk up the joint in both Brooklyn and Milluwakee before being a lead assistant for Frank Vogel and revitalizing his coaching stock with the Lakers. The issue is, the cracks in the foundation are already showing in pre-season.
Luka Doncic is a phenomenal basketball player and someone I tune in to watch but has developed a noticeable diva complex. Kidd was very similar as a player and got hired specifically to be a mentor for Luka. The issue is, that isn’t what he needs this early in his career. He needs someone to reel him in, and Kidd doesn’t appear like he is capable of doing that.
The deeper issue is, there is no evidence pointing that Kidd can be a good head coach in the league. He had a good tenure with the Nets, which saw them lose in the 2nd round to the powerhouse Heat. That is the only season he won a playoff series, which was 7 years ago at this point. I imagine a world where Kristaps Porzingis is taking a step back 3’s in transition with Doncic seething across the court as Dallas trails by 15 in the 3rd quarter. Kidd will likely fail again and bring the Mavs back to square 1.
4. The Wizards Actually Compete
I cannot believe I’m saying this, but I like the Washington Wizards. There isn’t anything sexy about the roster, but there doesn’t have to be. Only one team has a title. Yet, there is an entire layer of organizations that are just trying to make the playoffs.
The Wizards don’t have realistic title expectations, but they have a good team. They have depth amongst the best in the league and can play a vital role in a long season. The combination of young talent with savvy vets and a borderline superstar in Bradley Beal gives this team a winning DNA.
The public is sleeping on the Wizards playoff chances and needs to wake up. This team is legit and can be a solid team in a fantastic conference. Not to mention Thomas Bryant, Deni Avdija, and Rui Hachimura are budding young trio that will be healthy this year and be a significant part of this squad. Watch out for the Wiz.
5. Jalen Suggs Puts the NBA on Notice
I would love to meet more Orlando Magic fans. I met one in college – his name was Dan. He was a decent guy, but his shorts were smaller than Pete Maravich’s and tighter than any I’ve ever seen in my life. I feel like the Magic are like Dan’s shorts, weirdly visible and noticeably terrible.
Orlando has had little to no direction the last few years and seems to have developed into a “land for misfit toys.” In a year, the likes of Mo Wagner started games for the franchise – Orlando only managed to land the fifth pick in the NBA Draft. By nothing short of a miracle, they were somehow able to land Gonzaga star guard Jalen Suggs.
Suggs was ranked 3rd on my Big Board and someone I think has an All-NBA future. He has an alpha mentality and is incredibly talented on both ends of the floor. In Orlando, it appears Suggs will have the keys to the car. Cole Anthony had a solid rookie year but will not have the potential Suggs possesses.
His usage rate will be solid, and he should be able to learn on the fly. It may take a few weeks, but Suggs will explode. He will be able to create for others and score the basketball with efficiency. The defensive effort he brings is refreshing and is the type of stuff that can rub off on his teammates. The Magic will likely be terrible, which could put Suggs Rookie of the Year odds in doubt. However, Suggs will explode onto the scene and make teams wish they drafted him. The NBA is about to be put on notice.