Updated: Sep 21
With most teams approaching the 41 game mark this weekend, it’s time to take a look at where things stand, and see what I got right and what I got very wrong in my preseason predictions!
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The NBA has somehow made it to the halfway point of the 2021-22 season, keeping rosters together with chewed gum and duct tape. But since they made it, it’s time to check in on how I did predicting this season! Let’s start with the positives.
Three things I was big RIGHT on…
1- The Timberwolves would be a play-in team
Minnesota has struggled the past… oh, two decades or so, but this year just felt like the year they could be one of the ten best teams in the west. And I was right! So far, they have played better than most predicted, and look to be headed for the play-in tournament. And if they could pull off a trade for Ben Simmons, they may even make it into the playoffs.
2- The Brooklyn Nets would be great
Even without Kyrie Irving, I thought the Nets would be a great team. They were able to be the best team in the East (along with Chicago) without Irving and with a shell of James Harden. Now that Kyrie is back part-time, Brooklyn should have no problem locking up the #1 seed and be a serious threat in the playoffs.
3- The Orlando Magic would be the worst team in the East
The Magic and the Pistons are two teams with next to no talent, so it was really a coin flip for who would be the worst team in an improved Eastern conference. But I went with Orlando, and at the moment I was right. Wagner has been a bright spot for this team, but their present remains just as bleak as their future has been for years.
Three things I was big WRONG on…
1- The Phoenix Suns would be an average Western conference team
I will admit, I questioned the validity of the Suns last year. They got the Lakers without Davis and LeBron hurt, they got the Nuggets without Murray, and the Clippers without Kawhi. I thought they were good, but not Finals good, and I assumed they would regress to the norm this season. Nope. They look like maybe the best team in the league, and Chris Paul appears to have found the Fountain of Youth.
2- The Boston Celtics would actually be good
Wow did I miss the mark on this one. I think Brad Stevens is a top-5 coach in the league, but I thought a new voice might spark Tatum and Brown to play out of their minds and lead the Celtics to a great regular season; they wouldn’t even make the play-in if the season ended today. This team has been horrible this year, and they need to make some serious adjustments if they want to make some noise.
3- The Dallas Mavericks would win the Southwest division
In Luka I trust. However I also trusted Luka to actually be in shape because he’s paid millions to, well, be in shape. But because of that, and because Ja Morant has evolved before our eyes, the Mavericks don’t appear to be on the same level as the Grizzlies, and will need to play very well to avoid the play-in tournament.
Updated Standings & Playoffs Predictions
1- Brooklyn Nets
2- Milwaukee Bucks
3- Chicago Bulls
4- Miami Heat
5- Philadelphia 76ers
6- Cleveland Cavaliers
7- Charlotte Hornets
8- Toronto Raptors
9- Atlanta Hawks
10- Boston Celtics
11- Washington Wizards
12- New York Knicks
13- Indiana Pacers
14- Detroit Pistons
15- Orlando Magic
1- Golden State Warriors
2- Phoenix Suns
3- Utah Jazz
4- Memphis Grizzlies
5- Los Angeles Lakers
6- Denver Nuggets
7- Dallas Mavericks
8- Los Angeles Clippers
9- Minnesota Wolves
10- Sacramento Kings
11- San Antonio Spurs
12- Portland Blazers
13- New Orleans Pelicans
14- Oklahoma City Thunder
15- Houston Rockets
1 Brooklyn Nets def 9 Atlanta Hawks 4-1
2 Milwaukee Bucks def 7 Charlotte Hornets 4-0
3 Chicago Bulls def 6 Cleveland Cavaliers 4-1
4 Miami Heat def 5 Philadelphia 76ers 4-3
1 Golden State Warriors def 9 Minnesota Wolves 4-0
2 Phoenix Suns def 7 Dallas Mavericks 4-2
3 Utah Jazz def 6 Denver Nuggets 4-3
5 Los Angeles Lakers def 4 Memphis Grizzlies 4-2
1 Brooklyn Nets def 4 Miami Heat 4-2
2 Milwaukee Bucks def 3 Chicago Bulls 4-0
1 Golden State Warriors def 5 Los Angeles Lakers 4-1
3 Utah Jazz def 2 Phoenix Suns 4-2
1 Brooklyn Nets def 2 Milwaukee Bucks 4-3
1 Golden State Warriors def 3 Utah Jazz 4-1
1 Brooklyn Nets def 1 Golden State Warriors 4-3 (Finals MVP: Kevin Durant)
Regular Season Awards
Steph Curry (Golden State Warriors)
This award has been one of the easiest to pick this season. While Durant, Jokic & DeRozan have had great seasons, Curry appears to be back to his 2016 self and looks to run away with the MVP this season.
2- Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets)
3- Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)
4- DeMar DeRozan (Chicago Bulls)
5- Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz)
Defensive Player of the Year
Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
The Warriors are the best team in the league, and Draymond is a big part of that. While Curry has been leading the way from three, Green has been anchoring the defense and he deserves to win this award (as of now).
2- Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)
3- Evan Mobley (Cleveland Cavaliers)
4- Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
5- Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)
Coach of the Year
Taylor Jenkins (Memphis Grizzlies)
The Grizzlies have greatly outperformed their expectations, and they’ve done so without Morant for stretches. Jenkins has Memphis rolling and should be recognized for it.
2- Billy Donovan (Chicago Bulls)
3- Steve Nash (Brooklyn Nets)
4- Steve Kerr (Golden State Warriors)
5- Doc Rivers (Philadelphia 76ers)
Rookie of the Year
Evan Mobley (Cleveland Cavaliers)
No discussion needed. It’s Mobley with a bullet.
2- Josh Giddey (Oklahoma City Thunder)
3- Franz Wagner (Orlando Magic)
4- Jalen Green (Houston Rockets)
5- Scottie Barnes (Toronto Raptors)
Sixth Man of the Year
Tyler Herro (Miami Heat)
The Heat are a good team that have had a lot of injuries, and Herro has helped keep them afloat in the East. Riding the hype he got in the preseason, Herro has emerged as the front-runner in this race.
2- Montrezl Harrell (Washington Wizards)
3- Dennis Schroeder (Boston Celtics)
4- Kelly Oubre (Charlotte Hornets)
5- Jordan Clarkson (Utah Jazz)
Stan Van Gundy Coaching Award (Worst coaching job)
Luke Walton (Sacramento Kings)
2- Ime Udoka (Boston Celtics)
3- Rick Carlisle (Indiana Pacers)
Allen Iverson Award (Most exciting player to watch)
Ja Morant (Memphis Grizzlies)
Despite missing some time, Morant has been a lightning bolt and is leading Memphis to a high playoff seed.
2- LaMelo Ball (Charlotte Hornets)
3- Steph Curry (Golden State Warriors)
Rasheed Wallace Award (Most impactful trade/buyout player)
Ben Simmons (Philadelphia 76ers to Atlanta Hawks)
The Hawks have a few too many players and are miserable on defense, which smells to me like the perfect ingredients for a trade for Ben Simmons.
2- Domantas Sabonis (Indiana Pacers to Boston Celtics)
3- Christian Wood (Houston Rockets to Dallas Mavericks)
Jeremy Lin Award (Hottest 2-week stretch from a random player)
DeMar DeRozan (Chicago Bulls)
The spirit of this award is to go to a relatively obscure player, but how could someone have a hotter stretch than DeRozan just did by hitting back-to-back game winners on back-to-back nights?
2- Alex Caruso (chicago Bulls)
3- Jordan Poole (Golden State Warriors)
1st Team All-NBA
G- Steph Curry (Golden State Warriors)
G- Ja Morant (Memphis Grizzlies)
F- Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets)
F- Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
C- Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)
2nd Team All-NBA
G- DeMar DeRozan (Chicago Bulls)
G- Donovan Mitchell (Utah Jazz)
F- LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers)
F- Paul George (Los Angeles Clippers)
C- Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)
3rd Team All-NBA
G- Chris Paul (Phoenix Suns)
G- LaMelo Ball (Charlotte Hornets)
F- Jimmy Butler (Miami Heat)
F- Draymond Green (Golden State Warriors)
C- Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)
There you have it! Our updated polls for the 2021-22 NBA season. Make sure to check back in regularly at The Circuit to see what we got right, and more importantly, what we got very very wrong.