Welcome, dear reader, to early July 2022. Another NBA season has wrapped. MMH has blossomed as more and more people have taken note of the other, massively talented writers.
The season marked a closer return to normal than perhaps warranted. Fans are in the stands and arenas are full despite the continuation of the Delta Variant. LeBron remains in the MVP conversation just like the last 16 years.
I’m going to make some eerily accurate predictions for the rest of what will happen. I take a lot of pride in going over my predictions (like I did a couple of weeks ago) because I believe in transparency and being able to say “I told you so” is like the adrenaline shot to the heart from The Rock for me. So let’s go.
The NBA MVP race is a tight one in 2022. Luka Dončić, Kevin Durant, LeBron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, and Joel Embiid are all in the mix. In the end, Embiid and James miss too much time or coast too much to get into the top tier. Many voters want to reward Giannis for his 2021 postseason, but he’s already won two.
Durant is torching the league in the same way that he scorched his way through the playoffs and the Olympics in 2021. In 2022, he is clearly the best player in the world. However, he lands himself in the second spot. He gets to rely on Kyrie Irving and James Harden (more on that later) so he does not have to push himself to the limit.
Luka Dončić does have to keep elevating his game. The Mavericks did not do much in free agency or the draft so Luka still has to do it all for the Mavs to be successful. It also doesn’t hurt that I predicted this last year. It’s gotta happen sometime, right??
Rookie of the Year
Welcome to the league, Jalen Green, the 2022 Rookie of the year. It is a tight race between him and the other Jalen, Jalen Suggs. Suggs does contribute for a winning team, but his shine is marginally dimmed by Franz Wagner, also having a solid rookie campaign for the same Magic team. Jalen Green, however, is allowed to take as many shots as he wants from anywhere on the floor for a Rockets team that is garbage. His counting stats are too hard for the voters to ignore. Cade Cunningham is great in Detroit, but his team is actually trying to start winning, so he doesn’t get the same volume.
Ben Simmons is traded. After the 2021 playoffs, we all knew it was going to happen, the only remaining questions revolved around price and destination. The Golden State Warriors start the season in a funk. They are incorporating several young players into their scheme and Klay Thompson isn’t back to being Klay Thompson just 12 months removed from injury. By the time he is rounding into form, probably March, the Warriors have made the big move. They trade some of those young assets for Simmons in November. He’s a fascinating fit next to Draymond and Steph. Keep reading to see if it pays off.
Markelle Fultz is traded. Why am I predicting this? Even I don’t totally know.
There will probably be one other medium to big trade in the next twelve months. The past few seasons have demonstrated that two would actually be underselling the amount of movement. Last year, I predicted a Lauri Markkanen move. I still think that happens—it hasn’t as of this writing—but I’m not predicting because I’ve already done that and one retread is enough per article.
The Blazers will most likely do something and I just can’t bring myself to say it will be Dame, so I can’t predict that. Other outlets have pointed out that D’Aaron Fox is probably on the move and I completely support that. You can count that as one of my predictions if it comes true. I believe he is out of Sacramento.
I want to predict that Brad Beal will actually not be traded. His name has been everywhere, but I think that with the moves that Washington has made, he is going to stick it out.
If Karl-Anthony Towns gets traded, I want you to know that you read it here first.
Eastern Conference Seeding
- Brooklyn Nets
- Milwaukee Bucks
- Miami Heat
- Chicago Bulls
- Charlotte Hornets
- Atlanta Hawks
- Philadelphia 76ers
- New York Knicks
- Indiana Pacers
- Boston Celtics
Western Conference Seeding
- Los Angeles Lakers
- Phoenix Suns
- Dallas Mavericks
- Utah Jazz
- Golden State Warriors
- Memphis Grizzlies
- Denver Nuggets
- Los Angeles Clippers
- Portland Trail Blazers
- New Orleans Pelicans
I’ve included the top ten teams because the Play-In Game is back! So these are the seedings at the end of the regular season. The Knicks and Celtics win the 7th and 8th seeds in the East and the Nuggets and Clippers win those spots in the West.
The East clearly has some set tiers. Brooklyn’s three superstars are healthier this season, but they refuse to push too hard on the gas pedal. That being said, they still cruise to the top seed. Miami is just so desperate to prove they belong after finally getting Kyle Lowry that they go all out during the regular season. The Milwaukee Bucks defend their title by just doing what they do–steady regular-season basketball.
From there it is a drop into a bunch of teams that just beat the crap out of each other all year. Atlanta, the darling of the 2021 postseason, struggles more this year as the rest of the conference is better. The Celtics drop, but they actually have a more successful season than the year before.
In the West, the Nuggets are a very strong 7th seed. They get Jamal Murray back towards the end of the season when he comes back earlier than expected from his knee injury. The Clippers are the exact opposite with Kawhi Leonard opting to sit out the whole season despite being medically cleared.
The Grizzlies are once again pushed to the side of the public consciousness after a weird free agency. However, the ascending stardom of Ja Morant and a healthy JJJ pushes them to the 6th seed. Ja shoots 35% from three, which is just enough to change the balance of some games.
In the Eastern Conference playoffs, a finally healthy Boston team puts on a good show The new-look Bulls implode at just the wrong time. None of it matters because the Nets tear through everyone like a buzzsaw through a block of Cabot extra-sharp cheddar. It’s a massacre.
The West is a different type of bloodbath as every team feels they have a legit shot. In the end, the Lakers’ shooting abandons them, the Nuggets don’t have the firepower, the Jazz jazz all over the place, and Mavs role players don’t show up enough. With Chris Paul showing his age for the Suns, the Warriors are able to capitalize and make it back to the finals.
A Warriors-Nets Finals has the makings of a classic. The Warriors’ major move for Simmons puts them in a position to be an incredibly versatile defensive team. Also because of that move, they crater in the minutes without the starters. Draymond Green and Simmon’s lack of scoring is a glaring weakness when the other team has a Cerberus of offensive efficiency as a big three. The Nets bench can’t stop anyone, but at least they can score. Durant gets another finals MVP.
So there you have it. Go ahead and take those checkbooks to the sports booking house. CIrcle back to me in a year to see how well I did. Obviously, I’ll read your comments from the yacht I purchase with my gambling winnings. Have a great day!