Updated: Sep 21
The NBA is back, and The Circuit predicts everything from the Finals matchup, to the MVP to most confusing player and more! How will your team do this year? Who will win the major awards? Find all that out here!
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After multiple seasons impacted by COVID-19, the NBA is finally back on schedule, and the 21-22 season could be the most exciting campaign we’ve seen in a long time.
We enter the season without a clear favorite; when was the last time that happened? Last season the Lakers were prohibitive favorites to win it all. For years it was the Golden State Machine. Before them the Heat dominated the preseason hype. But this year we have several teams that think they are the favorites.
The Nets would have been overwhelming favorites had Kyrie not seemingly retired? The 76ers would have been strong contenders had Ben Simmons not wet himself on national television against Atlanta and demanded a trade. The Lakers might be the favorites if we played this season in 2013. And the Bucks might be the favorites if they weren’t… the Bucks.
The award races aren’t all that different. There is an unusually high number of MVP candidates, from Steph to Giannis to KD and more. Even Rookie of the Year is a toss-up! The only thing we know for sure is the Kings will miss the playoffs… right?
Without further ado, let’s dive into how we think each team will finish, as well as predicting how each team will do vs. their over/under win total (because I love to gamble).
1- Brooklyn Nets (O/U 56.5= UNDER)
2- Boston Celtics (O/U 45.5= OVER)
3- Philadelphia 76ers (O/U 50.5= UNDER)
4- New York Knicks (O/U 41.5= UNDER)
5- Toronto Raptors (O/U 35.5= OVER)
The Nets are a really good team, but I don’t see them being a dominant regular season team. Between the Kyrie thing hanging over them and Durant likely missing games at some point, the Nets will win the division but go under on wins.
I like the Celtics this year. Tatum is evolving into a superstar and Jaylen Brown isn’t half bad either. With Horford anchoring the defense, look for the Celtics to go over.
The 76ers are a mess. Their second best player is throwing tantrums at practice and their coach is a serial choker. Embiid is excellent, but will likely miss time and thus Pilly goes under.
The Knicks I think are exactly a .500 team. No better, no worse. I do think they’re better than last year, but the Hawks, Celtics & Heat are all much better than they were, so they go under on the season.
The Raptors are a team that I could see completely bottoming out and winning 22 games. They are also a team I could see winning 46 games. But I think they fall somewhere in the middle, around 37 wins for the over.
1- Milwaukee Bucks (O/U 54.5= OVER)
2- Chicago Bulls (O/U 42.5= OVER)
3- Indiana Pacers (O/U 42.5= UNDER)
4- Cleveland Cavaliers (O/U 26.5= OVER)
5- Detroit Pistons (O/U 24.5= OVER)
The Bucks are going to kick some names and take some ass this season. Giannis seemingly leveled up in the playoffs, and they are so comfortable together and (knock on wood) pretty healthy compared to other teams. I see the Bucks cruising to the top seed in the East and cruising to the over.
The Bulls and Pacers are a complete toss-up to me. I said over for Chicago and under for Indiana, but I have no clue. If you asked me to bet my life, I would say the Bulls win 43 games and the Pacers win 42. But either way, these teams will suffer the exact same fate in the playoffs; quick and painful death.
The Cavaliers are a huge over for me. I see them winning over 30 games and being a stealth play-in contender.
The Pistons will go over simply because it’s such a low number, and winning fewer than 20 games is harder than you might think. Cade & Killian will help push the Pistons to 27 wins.
1- Miami Heat (O/U 48.5= OVER)
2- Atlanta Hawks (O/U 47.5= UNDER)
3- Charlotte Hornets (O/U 38.5= OVER)
4- Washington Wizards (O/U 33.5= UNDER)
5- Orlando Magic (O/U 22.5= UNDER)
I see the Heat being really good this season. Lowry is a perfect fit in South Beach, and Tyler Herro is poised for a monster season to propel the Heat to the over.
The Hawks were phenomenal in the playoffs, and I do like their team. But I think this is a classic case of two steps forward (‘21 playoffs), one step back (‘22 season). A slight under for the birds.
The Hornets have one of the most exciting players in the league in LaMelo Ball; when have they ever been able to say that? This team is going to be sneaky good, cruising to the over.
The Wizards are about to saw their playoff hopes in half when they trade Beal at the deadline. They are going to be awful this season and finally trade their superstar, going way under.
Remember when I said it was harder than you might think to win less than 20? Don’t tell the Magic that. They go way under.
1- Los Angeles Lakers (O/U 52.5= OVER)
2- Golden State Warriors (O/U 48.5= OVER)
3- Phoenix Suns (O/U 51.5= UNDER)
4- Los Angeles Clippers (O/U 45.5= UNDER)
5- Sacramento Kings (O/U 36.5= UNDER)
I think the Lakers have a lot of issues. They are old. Like, Harrison Ford in Indiana Jones 5 old. If you asked me if the Lakers would win 60 games I would say hell no. But 53? As long as James, Davis and Westbrook stay (relatively) healthy, they can do that. Over.
The Warriors and Suns will probably be flipped for many others forecasting this season, but gimmie Golden State. Klay is coming back, and hell hath no fury for a Klay Thompson scorned. This team isn’t going to miss a beat, and they will be back in title contention and go over (with potentially a new running mate from D.C.). The Suns on the other hand will go under. Paul is lakers-level old, and forgive me if I don’t buy Ayton as the next Hakeem. They will be good, but not as good as many think.
The Clippers, without Kawhi, are about to free-fall. This team is not built to survive major injuries, and lord knows Leonard is not rushing back from an injury. They will struggle to score most nights, and go under.
The Kings have a lot of promise. They could be good. But they have a bad coach, a mad center and a losing culture. Another year missing the playoffs for the Kings.
1- Dallas Mavericks (O/U 48.5= OVER)
2- Memphis Grizzlies (O/U 41.5= OVER)
3- San Antonio Spurs (O/U 28.5= OVER)
4- New Orleans Pelicans (O/U 39.5= UNDER)
5- Houston Rockets (O/U 27.5= UNDER)
Dallas is going to go way over. Luka is already one of the best players in the game, and I think this is the year he makes the leap from individual stardom to team dominance. Way over.
The Grizzlies have Ja Morant and JJJ, plus they play in maybe the worst division in basketball, so they will go over.
The Spurs are always better than you think. You think they’re good, they win the title. You think they suck, they make the playoffs. This team won’t be great by any means, but they will go over this year.
The Pelicans are the exact opposite of the Spurs; they are always worse than you think. Zion seems to be a long way off from coming back, and even with him this team isn’t very good. Under for the future SuperSonics.
Houston will join Orlando as complete garbage. This team will be fun to watch, but they will go way under for their win total.
1- Utah Jazz (O/U 52.5= OVER)
2- Denver Nuggets (O/U 47.5= OVER)
3- Portland Blazers (O/U 44.5= UNDER)
4- Minnesota Wolves (O/U 36.5= OVER)
5- Oklahoma City Thunder (O/U 23.5= OVER)
The Jazz are the Bucks West. They will be a great regular season team and go over but does anyone care? All that matters with this team is what they do in the playoffs.
The Nuggets will get Murray back at some point, but until then I think they can tread water with MPJ and Jokic leading the way. Over.
Portland is the team that I think could be the biggest disappointment in the league. They won’t be awful, but I see them being under .500 and Dame finally realizing he can’t stay here any longer. Under.
Minnesota has talent, and I see that talent coming through and leading them to the over.
OKC is going to be bad, but much like the Spurs I think they’ll be better than expected and go over on their win total. They have so many draft picks, they don’t even need to tank!
1- Milwaukee Bucks
2- Brooklyn Nets
3- Miami Heat
4- Boston Celtics
5- Philadelphia 76ers
6- Atlanta Hawks
7- Chicago Bulls
8- Indiana Pacers
9- Charlotte Hornets
10- New York Knicks
11- Toronto Raptors
12- Cleveland Cavaliers
13- Washington Wizards
14- Detroit Pistons
15- Orlando Magic
1- Utah Jazz
2- Los Angeles Lakers
3- Golden State Warriors
4- Dallas Mavericks
5- Denver Nuggets
6- Phoenix Suns
7- Memphis Grizzlies
8- Portland Blazers
9- Los Angeles Clippers
10- Minnesota Wolves
11- San Antonio Spurs
12- Sacramento Kings
13- New Orleans Pelicans
14- Oklahoma City Thunder
15- Houston Rockets
1 Milwaukee def 10 Charlotte 4-0
2 Brooklyn def 7 Chicago 4-1
3 Miami def 6 Atlanta 4-3
4 Boston def 5 Philadelphia 4-2
1 Utah def 10 Minnesota 4-0
2 Los Angeles Lakers def 7 Memphis 4-1
3 Golden State def 6 Phoenix 4-1
4 Dallas def 5 Denver 4-3
1 Milwaukee def 4 Boston 4-1
2 Brooklyn def 3 Miami 4-2
4 Dallas def 1 Utah 4-2
3 Golden State def 2 Los Angeles Lakers 4-2
2 Brooklyn def 1 Milwaukee 4-2
3 Golden State def 4 Dallas 4-3
2 Brooklyn Nets def 3 Golden State Warriors 4-3 (Finals MVP: Kevin Durant)
Regular Season Awards
Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)
2- Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks)
3- James Harden (Nets)
4- Nikola Jokic (Nuggets)
5- Jayson Tatum (Celtics)
Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers)
2- Rudy Gobert (Jazz)
3- Giannis Antetokounmpo (Bucks)
4- Matisse Thybulle (76ers)
5- Draymond Green (Warriors)
Jason Kidd (Dallas Mavericks)
2- Mike Budenholzer (Bucks)
3- James Borrego (Hornets)
4- Frank Vogel (Lakers)
5- Michael Malone (Nuggets)
Jalen Green (Houston Rockets)
2- Cade Cunningham (Pistons)
3- Jalen Suggs (Magic)
4- Evan Mobley (Cavaliers)
5- Scottie Barnes (Raptors)
Tyler Herro (Miami Heat)
2- Andre Iguodala (Warriors)
3- Kevin Heurter (Hawks)
4- Carmelo Anthony (Lakers)
5- Derrick Rose (Knicks)
Stan Van Gundy Coaching Award (Worst coaching job)
Luke Walton (Sacramento Kings)
2- Chauncey Billups (Blazers)
3- Dwayne Casey (Pistons)
Allen Iverson Award (Most exciting player to watch)
LaMelo Ball (Charlotte Hornets)
2- Ja Morant (Grizzlies)
3- Tacko Fall (Celtics)
Rasheed Wallace Award (Most impactful trade/buyout player)
Bradley Beal (Washington Wizards to Golden State Warriors)
2- Ben Simmons (76ers to Wolves)
3- Kevin Love (Cavaliers to Mavericks)
Jeremy Lin Award (Hottest 2-week stretch from a random player)
Bruce Brown (Brooklyn Nets)
2- Alex Caruso (Bulls)
3- Aaron Nesmith (Celtics)
All-NBA First Team:
G- Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)
G- James Harden (Brooklyn Nets)
F- LeBron James (Los Angeles Lakers)
F- Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks)
C- Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets)
All-NBA Second Team:
G- Steph Curry (Golden State Warriors)
G- Trae Young (Atlanta Hawks)
F- Jayson Tatum (Boston Celtics)
F- Anthony Davis (Los Angeles Lakers)
C- Rudy Gobert (Utah Jazz)
All-NBA Third Team:
G- Damian Lillard (Portland Blazers)
G- LaMelo Ball (Charlotte Hornets)
F- Kevin Durant (Brooklyn Nets)
F- Michael Porter Jr. (Denver Nuggets)
C- Joel Embiid (Philadelphia 76ers)
There you have it! The complete and comprehensive guide to everything you can expect to see 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.