2021-22 NBA Predictions and Picks

Giannis Antetokounmpo
Giannis Antetokounmpo / Elsa/GettyImages

The 2021-22 NBA season has arrived. It promises to be a good one. The Western Conference is a muddle of superstars and possible contenders with no clear-cut favorite, while the East is stronger than it's been since the days of Miami and Boston Big 3s and boasts the defending champions.

It'll be fun no matter what happens. To prepare, The Big Lead has put together a series of predictions and tries its hand at picking the award winners for season's end. Enjoy.

NBA Predictions

Giannis Antetokounmpo Shoots 30 Percent From Three

Giannis has reached the mountain top. He brought Milwaukee their first championship in half a century by submitting arguably the most dominant NBA Finals performances of all time. The one thing this superstar cannot do is shoot the ball. That changes this year. He's already shown off a new-and-improved shooting form in preseason. He doesn't need to be Stephen Curry out there. Giannis just needs a passable shot and he will break the game of basketball as we know it. With his legendary and borderline insane work ethic, it's only a matter of time, too. He gets it done this year. -- Liam McKeone

Lakers' Aging Roster Will Win 48 Games

The Los Angeles Lakers are old, we know this. But the franchise managed to cobble together a ton of guys who have won at the NBA level before, particularly during the regular season. If LeBron James and Anthony Davis stay healthy, the core around them should provide enough stability, savvy and know-how to win regular season games. There might be an adjustment period getting Russell Westbrook, James and Davis to fit together, but this team should thrive throughout the long regular season. The playoffs are where the cracks will show. -- Ryan Phillips

James Harden Will Average More Than 12 Assists Per Game

Kyrie Irving isn't really a pure point guard anyway, but without him on the court for now the Nets need someone to bring the ball up the floor on every possession. Harden will be that man. And it will pay immense dividends. Harden is nearly as gifted a passer as he is a scorer. He proved in very limited playing time last year that he knows exactly how to leverage the defense's attention on himself and Kevin Durant, averaging 10.9 assists per game. It'll be even easier this year, as long as everyone stays healthy. Harden will be dishing the rock to a mix of deadeye shooters and veteran big men very capable of scoring. Nobody has averaged more than 12 APG since John Stockton in 1992-93. Harden gets to that hallowed ground. -- McKeone

Lonzo Ball Will Finally Find a Home in Chicago

Ball has been an enigma during his NBA career. The model for success was for him to become a non-modern point guard in the mold of Jason Kidd. A triple-double threat every night, who struggles to shoot but makes up for it in other ways. He hasn't been successful yet. But Ball has slowly evolved his game, upping his 3-point percentage to 37.8, while seeing his free throw percentage jump nearly 22 points to 78.1. He's become increasingly efficient, and in Billy Donovan's up-tempo offense, with plenty of weapons around him, Ball should finally realize his immense potential. -- Ryan Phillips

NBA Award Predictions


MVP: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks

Defensive Player of the Year: Joel Embiid, Philadelphia 76ers

Most Improved Player: Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets

Sixth Man of the Year: Dennis Schroeder, Boston Celtics

Rookie of the Year: Jalen Green, Houston Rockets

Coach of the Year: Frank Vogel, Los Angeles Lakers


MVP: Jayson Tatum, Boston Celtics

Defensive Player of the Year: Rudy Gobert, Utah Jazz

Most Improved Player: Kevin Porter Jr., Houston Rockets

Sixth Man of the Year: Patty Mills, Brooklyn Nets

Rookie of the Year: Jalen Green, Houston Rockets

Coach of the Year: Billy Donovan, Chicago Bulls


MVP: Kevin Durant, Brooklyn Nets

Defensive Player of the Year: Draymond Green, Golden State Warriors

Most Improved Player: Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets

Sixth Man of the Year: Derrick Rose, New York Knicks

Rookie of the Year: Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons

Coach of the Year: Doc Rivers, Philadelphia 76ers