We actually made it through the 2020-2021 NBA season.
I mean, I guess we did..unless you’re counting the season-ending injuries to nine out of the top 12 players in the league. Congratulations to the Milwaukee Bucks for taking home the title! Congrats to the Phoenix Suns for giving my brother sports blue balls.
Way back in October—you know, two COVID variants, a vaccine, and a political insurrection ago—I predicted how the 2021 season would play out. It was a silly exercise because I did it before the draft and free agency. Teams can reshape themselves in that time. I still would have had plenty of time to do a prediction piece after that. Yet, like the best Simpsons episode, I plowed ahead.
I’ve read other prediction pieces over the years and I always wonder how those professionals do with their prognostications. I am going to provide the transparency I wish others did. I believe this is exactly what Gandhi meant when he spoke about being the change we want to see in the world.
So here’s my recap of a past piece about the future…which is now the present.
[My 2020 prediction piece is in standard style and my commentary is in bold.]
It’s waning days of warmth. End of Summer 2021. It’s a time filled with optimism and hope. I can hug my family without having to catalog every person they’ve talked to, every place they’ve been, every surface they’ve touched, or the air they’ve breathed. What a beautiful world.
Ok, not a bad start in the intro. Well, it’s smack in the middle of summer, not the end, but other than that. Alright, I’m not sure who has much optimism and hope…but I can hug my family!
It’s a time of hope. I just got a call that my rec league is back on. I will soon be returning to a time when my therapy and my exercise both involved nine other people, five of whom might want to fight me. Seven if you count the refs.
I repeated hope. The editor should have caught that. I think I was editing my own stuff back then? MMH has come a looooong way folks. Thanks so much for coming on this journey with us. We are really trying to put something special together and we have an insanely talented group now.
Back to the article, I am playing ball again, just not in a league. I think those people that want to fight me blacklisted me. Or it could be that I’m trash now.
I hop in my Flying Car from the joint venture of Tesla and Google and the news pops up on the dashboard length screen. The 2021 NBA season has just concluded. They started around the end of January in hopes of finishing up before football season. It was a great season. Some teams, like Portland or Philadelphia, had high hopes, but ended up slipping because of injuries. Some teams, like Phoenix or another team that starts with P, went on surprising runs.
I’m realizing that I wrote this even before the schedule was announced. Reeaaallly jumped the gun. Portland and Philly did not reach their high hopes! Phoenix did go on a surprising run!
Luka Dončić won the MVP. Giannis had a great season, but without postseason success, the voters were hesitant to give him a third straight. LeBron did his standard dominant coasting job because he knows that the only thing that matters is winning in the playoffs. So Luka, averaging 31 pts, 10.5 rebs, and 9.5 assists took home the trophy after leading the Mavericks to the 3rd seed in the West conference.
Dončić averaged a 28-8-8 and had one of the best sophomore seasons in league history, but Nikola Jokić won the MVP. He was freaking incredible this year. Giannis was fourth in voting and Luka was sixth.
The playoffs were not in a bubble this year but were no less memorable. I’ll go through the other seeds:
- Denver Nuggets Jazz — This is a huge whiff, thinking they would fall out.
- Los Angeles Clippers Phoenix — yep, this isn’t going well.
- Dallas Mavericks Nuggets — These teams did make the playoffs, OK!
- Los Angeles Lakers Clippers — I imagine I had the Lakers lower than most people.
- Golden State Warriors Mavericks — The Warriors lost in the play-in game.
- Memphis Grizzlies Portland — Another complete miss here. Sorry, Dame.
- Phoenix Suns Lakers — I did have the Suns in the playoffs, at least!
- New Orleans Pelicans. Grizzlies — I’m not the only person that wanted to see Playoff Point Zion. The Grizzlies earned this one though.
- Milwaukee Bucks 76ers — Embiid was a monster and this team was weird.
- Miami Heat Nets — The finals teams from 2020 underperformed by a wide margin.
- Brooklyn Nets Bucks — The Bucks and Nets were both better than I imagined.
- Boston Celtics Knicks — The Knicks making it is wild, even now. I was not predicting that no matter how drunk I may or may not be.
- Toronto Raptors Hawks — The Hawks making it and not the Raps is wild, even now. Just kidding. The Hawks offseason moves were real.
- Philadelphia 76ers Heat — I already forgot they were in the playoffs.
- Indiana Pacers Celtics — They might have been better off skipping this year.
- Washington Wizards Wizards — Holy shit, I got one! I got one! And it was a joke!
The Denver Nuggets have been to back-to-back Conference Finals, but they didn’t take their foot off the gas. Wiith a condensed schedule and resumed travel, Denver provides a slight edge. Combining that with their relative youth, they cruise through the regular season.
They were a dominant team in the regular season, even after Murray got hurt. Still, they couldn’t sustain his loss. I stand by the fact that for those few weeks after they acquired Aaron Gordon before Murray went down, they looked like championship contenders.
The Clippers respond to Doc Rivers firing as much as they do Ty Lue’s hiring and they fight to the second seed. Kawhi is still that good, let’s not forget. Their housemate, the Lakers have a few injuries and start slowly. That dropped them down to the fourth spot.
This paragraph was pretty good actually.
The Grizzlies young core was a year wiser and maybe the most fun team to watch game in and game out. One time, Ja Morant gave Daniel Theis a concussion by dunking on him so hard. Their main competition was the Pelicans. Zion played 50 games and it was just enough in the super-competitive West.
These teams were fighting to get into the Play-In game. Zion played 61 games.
The Warriors took the first month to get used to each other again and then skyrocketed up the rankings. Speaking of Rockets, Westbrook gets hurt again, they had an identity struggle, and also fell out of the playoffs.
We can just pretend this paragraph didn’t happen. This was before Klay Thompson got hurt and Westbrook got traded. The Rockets did fall out of the playoffs, but that was because they traded James Harden as well.
The darlings of the Bubble, the Suns, keep that momentum, as well as a few choice trades, moving and finally make the seventh seed.
The darlings of the Bubble, the Suns, keep that momentum, as well as a few choice trades, moving and finally make the…NBA finals.
In the Eastern Conference, the Bucks are their dominant regular-season selves again. The Miami Heat do not give up so easily. Their team is built to succeed, with different players going off on different nights. The Celtics also make it back to the top four by continuing to grow and develop their young wings. Brown and Tatum combined to score an average of 45 points a night.
I wasn’t right about a lot, but even I undersold the Jays. Brown and Tatum combined for 51 points a night. The Bucks were good. The Heat were inconsistent.
The final team in that top four group was the Brooklyn Nets. Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving both come back healthy. They spent some real cash on Joe Harris. DeAndre Jordan is technically still there. Similar to the Warriors, it takes them a bit to adjust and shake the rust off. But then it was ON.
…And they traded for another top ten player.
That Washington Wizards part was a joke.
Yet the only prediction I got right. That’s nuts. The Westbrook trade sort of worked out. It reinvigorated the franchise a bit. Beal has not been traded yet. Who knows what is next for them.
Who won the title out of those groups, you’re wondering? Do you have your checkbook ready to place the bet? Do bookies take checks? What’s a bookie?
The Denver Nuggets finally get over the hump and represent the West in the NBA finals. Jokic is transcendent. Murray takes a leap in terms of consistency. Porter is a reliable third scorer. They traded some assets to get Lauri Markannen from the Bulls. This gives them a massive and sweet-shooting front line. They didn’t play in a game 7 for the entire playoffs.
I already covered most of this. They did make a trade, but it was for Aaron Gordon. He was a decent fit for the team. Unfortunately, I think he was shooting with his eyes closed for most of the playoffs.
Their opponent in the finals was the Brooklyn Nets. KD at 90% of the player he was before blowing out his Achilles is still better than 93% of the league. That injury usually takes two years to come back from—if you do at all. That happens to be right when the playoffs rolled around in 2021. Kyrie has his faults. The guy can play and he’s back where he belongs as the second star. They have size, shooting, and loads of playmaking. Not to mention a coach in Steve Nash who has played in some tantalizing offenses. Kyrie did tweak his knee in game two, however.
So if Harden and Kyrie are not hurt—I was right about that part!—it is one hundred percent true that the Nets make the finals. They also win the finals. Hell, they almost made it anyway. Durant was an inch away from a historic win. I give the Bucks credit for rallying after that near-death experience, but, wow, was that close. A healthy Nets was the best team.
The Nuggets took advantage and won the 2021 NBA championship.
Health is a part of sports so even though I think a healthy Nets team wins, I am not taking anything away from the Bucks. You play the games and they won ‘em. Giannis was incredible. The same goes for the Suns. They do not need to apologize for AD, Kawhi, and Murray’s injuries. They were awesome. I really enjoyed watching some new faces in the finals, even if they weren’t the ones I expected.
A new champion. A new vaccine. A new world.
Two out of three ain’t bad. Thanks to all those who have kept reading this season. I had a blast. It will continue. Have a great day.