Basketball is one of the most prominent sports globally, with widely-known players and teams coming from various countries and monumental games throughout its history. Like other sports, it has been hit hard by the current pandemic. Some people in the NBA have been hit by the virus, complicating the launch of new games or a new season.
Health and safety protocols have now been implemented for players and organization staff with the NBA’s decision to proceed with the 2021 season. Teams continued trades and deals during the offseason, other than the NBA’s bold move to proceed with the remainder of last season and leading up to the Finals match.
Predictions based on last season’s record only have been made, given that the NBA’s 2021 season has just started, but it holds some standing in playoff predictions. Here are some of the top teams predicted to have excellent records for the 2021 season and are thought to get substantial spots in the playoffs.
Los Angeles Lakers
When thinking of top picks for this season’s dominant teams, people usually go for the previous season’s champions. Of course, as they did excellent the season before, it’s reasonable to think that they’d pull off another successful run this time. Predictions for this season will not omit the defending champs unless there’s reason to.
The Lakers strived and fought their way to the top seed of the Western Conference. Led by LeBron James, the team cruised through the playoffs and went all the way to take the 2020 championship title. The hype around the Lakers winning another title has been high ever since James transferred to the West from his home team, the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Their status did live up to the hype, but only after James’ second year with the Lakers. The highly-accomplished player was allowed top-tier back-up by recruiting All-Stars Anthony Davis, Dwight Howard, and Rajon Rondo, among other veterans and young talent, and gave the Lakers another trophy to add to their vast hall of accomplishments.
The Nets are one of the teams to watch out for, with Kevin Durant’s addition in a roster with Kyrie Irving. These are two All-Star players that have accomplished much during their career, including a championship title. Having them on the same team is a possible delight to watch during their every game.
Having a roster with Irving seems quite promising, but it had only yielded decent results last season. They did clinch the Eastern Conference’s seventh seed spot but fell to a 4-0 sweep to the Toronto Raptors in the first round. Durant, who signed with the Nets back in 2019, wasn’t able to help due to his Achilles injury, but that might change this season.
After an 18-month recovery from his injury, Durant came out with a dominating win against his former team, the Golden State Warriors, for his long-awaited debut. Irving is still out for the following games due to personal reasons, but it is expected that great things can come from this duo leading a potential playoff team.
The Mavs are another team to anticipate this coming season with a fantastic roster with star players Luka Dončić, Kristaps Porzingis, and All-Star center DeAndre Jordan. The first two have shown much promise despite being in the NBA for only a few years. With them at the helm, this team could potentially be a definite contender for the playoffs.
Dončić has been putting up impressive records and was voted the “2018-2019 Rookie of the Year” Award. He also had the most triple-doubles in a single season in 2019-2020.
Porzingis has shown his immense capabilities since he was drafted by the New York Knicks back in 2015 as their center/power forward, so having him as an addition presents possibilities for the team. Despite being a highly-valued player, Jordan has faced issues regarding his team behavior, but his time with the Mavs may improve him.
The Bucks’ roster had some highlights over the decades but was seen overall as lackluster, not reaching playoffs or finals status consistently; until Giannis Antetokounmpo. The ‘Greek Freak,’ as people call him, has put up impressive numbers and performances since getting drafted by the Bucks in 2013.
The team has made five playoff appearances since 2014 but were eliminated continuously during the first round. During their 2018-2019 run, it seemed that they would go through the finals, with them taking the first seed in the East and closing out the first round and semifinal matches with ease. Unfortunately, they were stopped by the Toronto Raptors.
Despite the shortcomings, the team has been relatively consistent for the past years, putting up huge wins and making constant playoffs appearances. With the two-time MVP leading the team, the Bucks might finally go all the way to a finals appearance since the 1970s.
Certain teams are considered strong playoff contenders by how promising their lineup is and their record during their last season. Usually, those that make the later stages of last season’s playoffs are the prime picks for the current season. However, changes made during the offseason may play a significant role in the season’s power transfers.
Every team seeks to improve their roster and performance in any way they can. Sometimes, that means being frequently dominant despite the season progression. Considering teams’ status from last season helps make your choice for early season picks and predictions come playoffs.