Who Are the Teams to Beat in the 2020-21 NBA Season?
The NBA 2020-21 season tips off on December 22. Here are some betting trends to know, and ways a few top teams can win the Larry O’Brien trophy.
The 2020-21 NBA season will be one to remember. There’s arguably more parity in the league than there’s been in a decade, with plenty of old and new faces in new places to keep an eye on.
With some of our favorite players back from injury and others already requesting trades, there should be no lack of drama for the next eight months or so.
Who Will Win the O’Brien Trophy?
What does each title-hopeful squad need to win a championship this season? Let’s take a look.
- Los Angeles Lakers: The Sixth Men play like starters.
It’s hard to nitpick with the A. Lakers, who seemed to coast through the NBA Finals last season. But a couple of significant roster changes are the Lakers’ biggest question marks. Bringing in the winner and runner-up of the Sixth Man of the Year award from a year ago (Montrezl Harrell and Dennis Schroeder) definitely won’t hurt the team’s chances. Schroeder will be the starting point guard, while it remains to be seen whether Harrell will retain his sixth-man role or join the Lakers’ 5. Regardless, the complementary play of these two will have a big role in the success of the defending champs.
- Los Angeles Clippers: Make Ty Lue gain the locker room.
The A. Clippers’ locker room seems like a big soap opera ready to implode at any second. The team’s head coach from a year ago, Doc Rivers, has shed some light onto the lack of respect and cohesiveness among the Clippers, which stopped them short of their expected Finals run last season. It seems that none of the players like each other or the way they play and don’t want to do what’s necessary to win a championship. And while the Clippers have the talent to compete with anyone, this obstacle isn’t going away. The most important job in this organization this season belongs to newly hired head coach Tyronn Lue. He’ll need to get this team working together and, most importantly, appreciating each other if the Clippers want to take their big brother’s place lifting the Larry O’Brien at season’s end.
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- Milwaukee Bucks: Get Giannis an effective jump shot.
The Milwaukee Bucks continue to spend big money on a supporting cast for star forward Giannis Antetokounmpo, but continue to find themselves out of the playoffs by or in the second round. Why? Giannis is the back-to-back defending MVP. He’s surrounded by shooters. It doesn’t make any sense! Well, every post-season the game slows down from the usual Bucks’ fast-paced attack, and Giannis finds himself being guarded much more loosely than in the regular season. This happens because teams know he can’t consistently shoot a jump shot longer than 15 feet. This won’t be changing any time soon, as Giannis already airballed a free throw and a jump shot in his first preseason game. While adding Jrue Holiday was a huge plus for the team, their biggest problem remains. Let’s see how this conundrum plays out in 2021.
- Brooklyn Nets. Find a second (or maybe even third) basketball.
The Brooklyn Nets are absolutely loaded with talent this year, specifically at positions one through three. Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Spencer Dinwiddie and Caris LeVert are the four best players on this team. But there are two problems with that: They all play the same 2/3 positions, and they all need the ball in their hands to be at their best. It’ll be very interesting to see how new head coach Steve Nash, one of the greatest passers of all-time, will try to convey that very skill to a team that needs to learn it, and fast. If the Nets can effectively share the ball and be efficient on offense (somehow), then the sky’s the limit for this team. It’s a big “if.”
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- Philadelphia 76ers. Get Joel Embiid in shape.
Joel Embiid’s only problem since he entered the NBA has been injury. He’s been absolutely dominant on both sides of the ball, but has also been unable to stay on the court, and as a result is a liability to his team. With new head coach Doc Rivers and new president of basketball operations Daryl Morey now running the show, the team has plenty of shooters to surround stars Embiid and Ben Simmons. This should allow them both to work down low and pass out to shooters if they get double teamed. There should be a lot of clean looks in Philly this year, assuming its stars can stay healthy and active every night.
Again, this should be an NBA season for the ages (it would have been last year if not for Covid-19 suspending the season and leaving infinite “what-ifs”). This season should pick up whatever slack the still-incredible 2019-20 season left, and leave no questions unanswered.
Make sure you get your futures bets in and enjoy opening week!
Watch the NBA Season Openers Next Tuesday
The NBA regular season will officially tip off on Tuesday, December 22. The night’s double-header will start at 7 p.m. ET with the Brooklyn Nets vs. the Golden State Warriors at the Barclays Center in New York, followed at 10 p.m. ET with the L.A. Lakers facing the L.A. Clippers at the Staples Center in Los Angeles. Both opening night games will be broadcast live on TNT.