WATCH: Charles Barkley Bets On Trail Blazers Winning Western Conference

Very few things could herald the return of NBA basketball better than analyst Charles Barkley and his spur-of-the-moment predictions for the 2020-21 season.

Barkley made the headlines when he predicted the Portland Trail Blazers would sweep the Los Angeles Lakers ahead of their first-round playoff matchup last season.

Encouraged by the No. 8 seed’s Game 1 victory over the future NBA champions, the 1993 MVP even broke out the broom in the TNT studio in postgame celebration. Barkley’s prognosis turned spectacularly wrong, he changed his tune and, metaphorically, bet on L.A. to go through the Western Conference Finals against the Denver Nuggets unscarred.

Denver could not stop LeBron James and Co. on their way to the franchise’s 17th NBA title. But the Nuggets did come out on top in Game 3 of the series, fueling short-lived comeback hopes.

However, Barkley appears to be undeterred by his poor fortune-telling record and now promised on the NBA on TNT pregame show to bet real money — $100,000, no less — on the Blazers to finish with the No. 1 seed in the Western Conference:

To justify his pick, Barkley pointed out that Portland will have Enes Kanter and Jusuf Nurkic available for a full campaign in addition to offseason acquisition Robert Covington. Barkley also called Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum the NBA’s best backcourt.

Barkley’s prophecy is off to an awkward start. The Blazers lost 120-100 in their season opener against the Utah Jazz.

LeBron James, Anthony Davis occupy top ESPN Top-100 list

While Barkley favors the Trail Blazers, ESPN appears to like L.A.’s odds in the 2020-21 campaign and placed its All-Stars, James and Anthony Davis, at the top of the network’s annual top-100 player rankings.

James reclaimed the No. 1 spot after Milwaukee Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo unseated him last year. Montrezl Harrell (No. 76), Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (77), Dennis Schroder (79), and Marc Gasol (96) are the other four Lakers recognized by ESPN.

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