Lakers Nation Roundtable: 2021-22 NBA Champion & Awards Predictions
Anthony Davis
Harry How-Getty Images

The NBA offseason has come and gone and the 2021-22 season is upon us as the Los Angeles Lakers host the Golden State Warriors on Opening Night this Tuesday.

To no surprise, the Lakers once again have high expectations for this season after adding Russell Westbrook and a number of quality veterans this summer.

While the Lakers are among the favorites to win the championship though, it will take them time to gel and there’s a number of other championship-caliber teams that will be in the mix.

Before the season gets underway, our staff went on record and predicted who would win the 2021-22 NBA Championship as well as all the major awards in the latest Lakers Nation Roundtable:

Daniel Starkand (@DStarkand):

NBA Finals: Lakers over Nets

This is obviously a pick that’s health-permitting on both sides, but if they can stay healthy, the Lakers and Nets are the two most talented teams in the league with stars capable of taking them to the Finals. I give a slight nod to the Lakers just because I don’t think Brooklyn has the size to slow down Anthony Davis.

MVP: Stephen Curry, Warriors

I thought Stephen Curry was the best player in the NBA last season, his team success, or lack thereof, just didn’t warrant him winning MVP. The Warriors should be much better this season though and I don’t see Curry taking a step back.

DPOY: Anthony Davis, Lakers

Not much else to say other than he’s the best defender in basketball when healthy.

ROY: Cade Cunningham, Pistons

He was the No. 1 overall pick for a reason. Plus, given that the roster that Detroit will be trotting out on a nightly basis, they’re gonna hand Cunningham the keys and see what he can do, which should lead to solid stats regardless of team success.

MIP: Lonzo Ball, Bulls

Lonzo Ball has improved every season of his NBA career and he’s now in a situation in Chicago where he’s playing around quality talent and he’s happy, which I think will lead to another great year.

6MOY: Jordan Clarkson, Jazz

He has really found a home and a role in Utah.

COY: Jason Kidd, Mavericks

I think Luka Doncic is going to have an incredible year and lead the Mavericks to a top-four seed in the West. And if that happens, I can definitely see the Jason Kidd “redemption” narrative becoming a thing.

Trevor Lane (@Trevor_Lane):

NBA Finals: Nets over Lakers

I’ve got the Nets over the Lakers even if my heart says LA brings home championship No. 18. We don’t know yet what the Lakers’ ceiling looks like or if they will get there, while the Nets showed it during the playoffs last year prior to suffering injuries. When they had two of their stars healthy, they hit a level of play that was greater than any other team last season, so I’ve got them as the favorites to win it all simply because the Lakers have so any questions to still be answered.

MVP: Luka Doncic, Mavericks

He’s the engine of the Mavs and the brightest young star in the NBA. Luka is the current betting favorite, so this isn’t exactly going out on a ledge, but his season appears primed for an MVP campaign. Most of the rest of the field, like Lebron James, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Nikola Jokic, and Stephen Curry, among others, have solid rosters that can do some of the heavy lifting for them and incentive to conserve energy during the season.

The Mavs, on the other hand, go as far as Doncic’s brilliance will take them. He will be leaned upon heavily and thus will produce some ridiculous numbers, and as long as the Mavs finish securely as a playoff team, Doncic will take home the trophy.

DPOY: Anthony Davis, Lakers

Call this the homer pick, if you will, but Anthony Davis is ready to remind everyone just how good he is, He came in second for DPOY to Antetokounmpo in 2019-2020 then had an injury-riddled campaign last year. The Lakers’ current roster doesn’t feature many players who are known for their defensive brilliance, which means Davis’ versatility will be stretched farther than ever before. If he can maintain the Lakers impressive defensive rating despite a having a supporting cast that is decidedly less stingy than last year’s bunch, Davis may very well finally get the hardware.

ROY: Jalen Green, Rockets

There are a number of talented rookies this season but winning the ROY is often a question of opportunity just as much as ability. Players who are stepping into large roles with their team from day one will have the edge, and as such, I’m going with Houston’s Jalen Green. Cade Cunningham may have been the number one pick, but Green will control the Rockets’ offense from day one and his game is highlight-friendly. That, combined with the buzz around fellow rookie Alperen Sengun, should get enough eyes on the Rockets to get Green the ROY.

MIP: Jordan Poole, Warriors

Perhaps it’s recency bias, as Poole spent two preseason games shredding the Lakers in the last week or so, but the breakout sure looks real. The Warriors won’t have Klay Thompson back until December at the earliest, giving Poole plenty of time to run with the starters and cement his standing in the rotation.

While everyone looks at Thompson’s return as the catalyst for a deep playoff run, it could very well be the emergence of Poole that lifts the Warriors into a familiar tier as contenders.

6MOY: Buddy Hield, Kings

Typically, this award goes to scorers. In fact, you have to go all the way back to Lamar Odom’s 2010-2011 6th Many award to find a player whose main contribution to a team is his ability to get buckets. As such, I’ll go with the trend and pick Hield, who has the green light the second he steps on the floor and can get hot in an instant. With Tyrese Haliburton claiming the starting gig, Hield’s scoring is sure to lead to consideration for the 6MOY award, especially if the Kings finally claw their way back into the playoffs.

COY: Ty Lue, Clippers

This award is often used to recognize when teams exceed expectations. After all, everyone loves a feel-good story, and a team that somehow is greater than the sum of its parts paints an easy narrative of a brilliant mind on the bench getting the most out of his players.

The Clippers, as much as it pains me to say, find themselves in just that kind of situation. With Kawhi Leonard sidelined, most are writing them off in the Western Conference, but they still have plenty of talent. If they still wind up in the thick of the playoff race in the West, which is very possible, Lue will get a strong push to win it

Ron Gutterman (@rongutterman24):

NBA Finals: Lakers over Bucks

Two weeks ago, I would have picked the Nets over the Lakers. At full strength, Brooklyn is just too talented. And that still may be the case, but the uncertainty surrounding the Kyrie Irving situation is too much for me to pick them right now. I may change my mind in a couple weeks.

MVP: Stephen Curry, Warriors

I have the Warriors finishing at around a 3-6 seed in the West. If they do that, it will be because Curry had another remarkable season.

DPOY: Giannis Antetokounmpo, Bucks

ROY: Jalen Green, Rockets

MIP: Jordan Poole, Warriors

This award is always so difficult to predict, so I’m just picking a player who could have a bigger than expected role early in the season. Poole has the talent to reach this level is the Warriors’ system.

6MOY: Alex Caruso, Bulls

This is another difficult to predict award, as it’s unclear exactly what roles everyone will play on their respective team. I see Caruso coming off the bench and being pivotal to the Bulls’ defensive effort, which is why I’m picking him here.

COY: Michael Malone, Nuggets

I see the Nuggets making a decent amount of noise in the Western Conference, at least during the regular season, and Malone should be rewarded, especially is Jamal Murray misses significant time.

Skyler Trepel (@skylertrepel):

NBA Finals: Lakers over Nets

Lakers in 5 if Kyrie doesn’t play. Lakers in 7 if he does.

MVP: Anthony Davis, Lakers

Did everyone forget just how talented Anthony Davis is? If Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan had a baby that could shoot threes his name would be Anthony Davis. In fact, Davis already has more 40 point games than Kevin Garnett, Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki combined. Only two years ago he balled out in Games 1 and 2 of the NBA Finals in his championship debut, but now they’re calling him “street clothes?”

Davis is one of the original unicorns in the NBA, but his once slender frame is now big and powerful. Davis looks like he’s put on a ridiculous amount of muscle even since joining the Lakers and it’s showing in the preseason with far more power on his dunks. Russell Westbrook has spoken about how unlocking Anthony Davis will be key to the Lakers winning because he knows how special and talented the Lakers big man is.

The Lakers had a 71-day off-season after their championship win in the bubble before last season. This didn’t help the health of their superstars, but it was just over a year ago that Davis was at his peak… and he’s still only 28 years old! Now with a full offseason of rest and a superstar teammate known to make bigs better named Russell Westbrook, Davis is ready to remind people just how good he can be as he has his revenge season.

DPOY: Anthony Davis, Lakers

See above for what happens when a defensive monster has his revenge season.

ROY: Evan Mobley, Cavaliers

Evan Mobley is a true unicorn as the 7-footer can run the floor like a guard, throw it down with ferocity, handle the ball, shoot from the perimeter and defend with the best of them. In fact, the USC alumnus became the first player to win Player of the Year, Freshman of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in his college conference since current Lakers superstar Anthony Davis did so while playing for Kentucky in 2012. Although I predict EMobley will win Rookie of the Year, be on the lookout for Jalen Green of the Houston Rockets and his wet jumper too.

MIP: Zion Williamson, Pelicans

The four youngest All-Star starters in NBA history are Magic Johnson, LeBron James, Kobe Bryant and Zion Williamson. Zion plays as if he was Shaquille O’Neal with a point guard’s skill set. You can remember you read it here first when Zion becomes best player of this decade.

6MOY: Carmelo Anthony

Carmelo Anthony is one of the best examples of how to adapt in today’s NBA after nearly being exiled for being perceived as one of the worst examples. He famously joked about reporters even suggesting he would come off the bench at Oklahoma City Thunder Media Day in 2017. However, Anthony had to humble himself before our very eyes as he transformed into a formidable role player off the bench with the Portland Trailblazers.

In fact, Anthony shot his second-highest 3-point percentage of his career at 40.9% last season. The Lakers need Anthony to be a shooter and even in the preseason, he’s shown he can heat up. With the added chemistry featuring LeBron James and a perfect role for Anthony, he can provide big minutes for the Lakers this season. Don’t be surprised to see the Lakers turn to him for some clutch shots at the end of games as the team’s fourth-best player as he has shown he can still impact the game when it matters most.

COY: Billy Donovan, Bulls

The Chicago Bulls have put together a fascinating foursome in Zach Lavine, DeMar DeRozan, Nikola Vucevic and Lonzo Ball. Ball already seems to have done something for this season that Ben Simmons could not: unlocking his jumper. Ball’s jumper looks more fluid than it has since his UCLA days.

With the Lakers connections on this team including former Lakers such as Ball and Alex Caruso, along with an LA native in DeRozan, this should be one of the most enjoyable teams to watch play in the Eastern Conference. With much of this Bulls roster from last year returning and the new additions from this offseason, Billy Donovan should have his team off to a hot start and be able to secure a high spot in the Eastern Conference standings.

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