The 2021-22 NBA season is right around the corner, and this season will be the first “back-to-normal”, 82-game season since 2018-19. This year’s offseason, lasting about 90 days, will also go down as the second shortest in NBA history, behind last year’s at 72 days.
Whether it’s a full-length season or one like the past two that got impacted by COVID-19, it doesn’t matter in terms of the ultimate goal every year: to win the championship. This offseason was arguably much more entertaining from a fan’s perspective than many anticipated it would be, which means two things: lots of changes that all students who plan on playing fantasy basketball this year should know, and lots of questions on who will be the next NBA champions in June 2022.
According to DraftKings, as of July 21, 2021, the Brooklyn Nets are the favorites to win the title this year. This should come as no surprise, as many predicted them to dominate in the playoffs this past season had it not been for injuries to some of their star players, specifically Kyrie Irving and James Harden. On top of this, they added guard Patty Mills to the roster who had outstanding play for the Australian Olympic team this year, so if he can bring even a portion of that to Brooklyn, the Nets should work wonders assuming they’re healthy.
Coming in second place is the Los Angeles Lakers, and this team makes for a much more interesting case than the Nets in my opinion. Fans are very split on this team; many are calling them a super team while others are ridiculing the Lakers’ “retirement home” of a roster, due to the old ages of the majority of the players.
However, with the return of Dwight Howard and Rajon Rondo, two key pieces to the Lakers’ 2020 championship squad, as well as the countless other player signings the team had this summer, I personally don’t see why this team doesn’t succeed barring injury.
Of course, the Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns will have hopes of returning to the finals this season, but the last team I’ll mention that so many fans are excited to see if they still have championship DNA is Golden State. With the return of Klay Thompson from injury, the homecoming of the 2015 finals MVP Andre Iguodala, Steph Curry playing better than ever and the young starts in James Wiseman and Jonathan Kuminga, it’s almost written on the wall for the Warriors to succeed; it’ll all come down to whether they can trump the other competition.
While all these teams had great offseasons, I have to say that the Lakers were the best overall this year. I mean, it seems like they signed half the NBA to their roster in hopes of winning another championship.
There are definitely others that have a chance, including not only all the teams already mentioned but also teams like the often-overlooked Utah Jazz, which had the best record in the league last year at 52-20. But even with the insane competition in the Western conference, the Lakers appear to be primed to win it all this year, not only because of James and Davis, but also largely because of the surrounding players with veteran experience they brought in this summer. However, many also thought that last year before the team got eliminated in the first round, so as with every other season, only time will tell who will reign victorious next summer.