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2020-2021 NBA season: Bold predictions in Eastern Conference and Western Conference

Jan 10, 2020; Dallas, Texas, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) argues a call in front of Dallas Mavericks forward Luka Doncic (77) during the second quarter at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

2020-21 NBA season bold predictions: We are living in strange times thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 NBA Finals took place in October, the NBA Draft was in November and now the start of the 2020-21 season is the latest since the 2011-2012 lockout. This will be the first full season without fans (or at least fans at full capacity).

There is so much to look forward to this season including the return of NBA stars Kevin Durant, John Wall and Stephen Curry as well as old faces in new places such as Chris Paul in Phoenix, Russell Westbrook in Washington and Montrezl Harrell and Dennis Schroder with the Lakers. Not to mention, the continued growth of young stars and the debut of what’s sure to be an exciting rookie class. With that in mind let’s take a look at some bold predictions for the 2020-2021 NBA season.

Related: NBA Power Rankings – Update after first round of the playoffs

NBA season bold predictions: Eastern Conference

1. The Atlanta Hawks will miss the playoffs

NBA season bold predictions: Atlanta Hawks
Dec 17, 2020; Memphis, Tennessee, USA; Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young (11) goes to the basket against Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) during the second half at FedExForum. Mandatory Credit: Justin Ford-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks had a tremendous offseason adding Rajon Rondo who played a key role in the Lakers 2020 NBA championship run, veteran scorer Danilo Gallinari and restricted free agent Bogdan Bogdanovic. However, they will not be a playoff team this season because while they will be a good scoring team, their perimeter defense is good enough.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Hawks, check out #TrueToAtlanta rumors, rankings, and news here.

They also don’t have an efficient scorer (Trae Young, 43% career shooter). With that said, they do have a bright future as long as their young core (Trae Young, John Collins, Kevin Huerter, etc.) continue to develop as individuals and as teammates. It just won’t be during the 2020-21 NBA season.

2. Brad Stevens will win Coach of the Year

NBA season bold predictions: Boston Celtics
uly 31, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, USA; Boston Celtics head coach Brad Stevens looks toward Jaylen Brown (7) during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the Milwaukee Bucks Friday, July 31, 2020, in Lake Buena Vista, Fla. Mandatory Credit: Ashley Landis/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

In Brad Stevens’ seven seasons with the Boston Celtics, he has yet to win a Coach of the Year award. Until now. The Celtics will finish with the best record in the Eastern Conference in the regular season and Brad Stevens will win the Coach of the Year award.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Celtics, check out #Celtics rumors, rankings, and news here.

Not only is the Celtics young core of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart continuing to get better, they made some underrated additions in Tristan Thompson and Jeff Teague during the offseason. Including Kemba Walker, the Celtics arguably have the best collection of backcourt talent in the NBA and that will make them among the top teams in the Eastern Conference this NBA season.

3. Bradley Beal will finish in the top-10 in MVP voting

NBA season bold predictions: Bradley Beal, Wizards
Dec 19, 2020; Washington, DC, USA; Bradley Beal #3 and Russell Westbrook #4 of the Washington Wizards talk during a timeout against the Detroit Pistons during a preseason game at Capital One Arena on December 19, 2020 in Washington, DC. Mandatory Credit: Rob Carr/Pool Photo via USA TODAY Sports

While the Washington Wizards’ decision to trade John Wall must have been painful for them, Russell Westbrook was a great piece to get in return. Not only will the Washington Wizards benefit immensely from the addition of Russ, Bradley Beal will also reap the benefits as he will finish in the top-10 in MVP voting this season.

Related: Winners/losers from Russell Westbrook trade

This may not be a bold prediction to most as Bradley Beal surely has the talent to be a MVP caliber player. Rather, it has to do with the competition in the MVP race that will be his biggest hurdle. Nevertheless, Bradley Beal will mesh well with Russell Westbrook, making himself and his team a good bet to get back to the postseason.

4. The Milwaukee Bucks will lose in the second round of the Playoffs again

Milwaukee Bucks
Sep 6, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Milwaukee Bucks forward Giannis Antetokounmpo (34) reacts after making a basket against the Miami Heat during the first half of game four of the second round of the 2020 NBA Playoffs at ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Admittedly, this is the bold prediction that seems the most unlikely but here we go. The Milwaukee Bucks will lose in the second round of the 2021 NBA Playoffs. The Jrue Holiday and D.J. Augustin additions were solid and they will surely have a great impact for the Bucks in the regular season. But they have not proven to be of much value in the postseason.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Bucks, check out their rumors, rankings, and news here

Beyond their own roster, the Nets come into the season with a loaded roster led by Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, the Celtics are led by Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, the Heat have now merged on to the scene as legit contenders and the Raptors are still viable contenders in the East.

5. The Brooklyn Nets will NOT have the best record in the Atlantic Division, will win the Eastern Conference

NBA season bold predictions: Kevin Durant, Nets
Dec 13, 2020; Brooklyn, New York, USA; Brooklyn Nets forward Kevin Durant (7) takes warmups prior to the start of the game against the Washington Wizards at Barclays Center. Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

The Brooklyn Nets’ 2020-2021 season playing out in a similar way the Miami Heat’s 2010-2011 season did. They will struggle in the beginning of the season, catching fire 20 or so games in, finish with a top three seed in the Eastern Conference and make it to the NBA Finals.

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The Nets have arguably the deepest team in the NBA with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and Joe Harris among others. Injuries are the only thing that will keep the Nets from reaching their full potential this season because the talent is all there for this team.

NBA season bold predictions: Western Conference

1. The Phoenix Suns will have a better record than the Golden State Warriors

NBA season bold predictions: Chris Paul, Suns
Dec 14, 2020; Salt Lake City, Utah, USA; Phoenix Suns guard Chris Paul (center) is introduced prior to a game against the Utah Jazz at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Russell Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

While the Warriors will have a good season and will be competitive in the playoff race, the Phoenix Suns will finish with a better regular-season record. The Suns’ addition of Chris Paul was huge following a season in which he took an Oklahoma City Thunder team that was expected to be a lottery team and made them a playoff team.

Related: Winners/losers of Chris Paul trade

No matter where Chris Paul plays, he always makes his teammates better improving their confidence through his playmaking ability and leadership. This season will be no different in Phoenix.

2. Luka Doncic will win the Regular Season NBA MVP

NBA season bold predictions: Luka Doncic, MVP
Dec 17, 2020; Dallas, Texas, USA; Minnesota Timberwolves forward Jake Layman (10) and Dallas Mavericks guard Luka Doncic (77) in action during the game between the Dallas Mavericks and the Minnesota Timberwolves at the American Airlines Center. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

This season, Luka Doncic will win the NBA MVP. In the process, he’ll break Derrick Rose’s record by becoming the youngest MVP award winner in NBA history. Last season was incredible for Luka Doncic. In the Mavericks seeding games, he nearly put up a triple double by averaging 30.0 points, 10.1 rebounds and 9.7 assists.

Related: Top 50 players heading into 2020-21 NBA season

Luka’s ascension among the NBA’s best will accelerate this season as he will continue his push to making the Mavericks a title contender once again. This should lead to Doncic being in the MVP conversation throughout the NBA season.

3. Damian Lillard will lead the NBA in scoring

NBA season bold predictions: Damian Lillard, Blazers
Jan 14, 2019; Sacramento, CA, USA; Portland Trail Blazers guard Damian Lillard (0) between plays against the Sacramento Kings during the second quarter at Golden 1 Center. Mandatory Credit: Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA Restart saw Damian Lillard play out of his mind, averaging 37.6 points on just shy of 50% shooting en route to leading the Blazers to the playoffs. Damian Lillard already had confidence going into the pre-bubble but his play in the bubble showed that his name deserves to be mentioned with the elite in the NBA.

Related: If you’re a fan of the Blazers, check out #RipCity rumors, rankings, and news here.

This season, he will continue to prove why he is not only one of if not the best point guards in the league, but why he is one of the best players period. This will start with his first career scoring title.

4. The Los Angeles Clippers will NOT finish as a top three seed in the West

NBA season bold predictions: Los Angeles Clippers
Feb 3, 2020; Los Angeles, California, USA; Los Angeles Clippers forward Kawhi Leonard (2) questions why he did not get a foul call in the first half against the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

The NBA restart was not kind to the Los Angeles Clippers and the offseason was just as bad for them. Last season was their chance to make their first ever Conference Finals. Unfortunately, they blew a 3-1 lead in the conference semifinals to the Denver Nuggets.

In the offseason, their reigning Sixth Man of the Year signed with the Lakers, Jamychal Green signed with the Denver Nuggets (the team that beat the Clippers in the playoffs) and Doc Rivers parted ways with the team after seven years. This season is their chance to right their wrongs from last season but they will have to do it as a four seed in the West as they will not be a top-three team in the Western Conference.

5. The Los Angeles Lakers will win 60 games

NBA season bold predictions: Los Angeles Lakers
Oct 11, 2020; Lake Buena Vista, Florida, USA; Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (23) smiles while holding the MVP and Finals trophies after game six of the 2020 NBA Finals at AdventHealth Arena. The Los Angeles Lakers won 106-93 to win the series. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

In a normal NBA season, this would not seem far-fetched, but seeing as teams will only play 72 games that’s what puts this in bold territory. It’s baffling that the Lakers won the NBA championship last season and somehow had a better offseason than anyone else. Also, as they added reigning Sixth Man of the Year Montrezl Harrell, Sixth Man of the Year runner-up Dennis Schroder, Wesley Matthews and Marc Gasol.

Related: Ranking NBA defenses

They somehow found a way to get better despite missing out on re-signing Rajon Rondo, an integral member of their championship roster last season. While they will have great regular season success, the jury is still out on how their new additions will be able to have an impact of the Lakers bid for a repeat.