The 2019-2020 NBA season was crazy! At the start of the campaign, if you’d have said that the final would be played at Disney World you would have been accused of dreaming. What did not surprise anyone, however, was the talent and drive displayed by the players. In the end we were witnesses to one of the best seasons in recent memory, culminating in an epic final between the LA Lakers and Miami Heat in which the Lakers class showed through to run out 4-2 winners.
Remembering an incredible 2020 NBA season
The early season call was that if the Lakers reached the finals, they were going to be the team to beat. And so it was. The 2020 season astonished us with one of the best tandems in NBA history: Lebron James and Anthony Davis. From the start of the season, they proved how well they play together, and their games only improved as the season went on with bookies slashing odds on them from game to game. In the playoffs, it was pretty much a two-man show of King James and AD. Last but not least, King James was the MVP of the finals once again after a performance that reached new heights.
If the Lakers lifting the Playoff Trophy was the least surprising thing, surely the most surprising was The Heat reaching the finals. They were the fifth seed in their conference, but they played tremendously throughout the whole playoffs. This was mainly due to one man: Jimmy Butler. This guy was a gasp of fresh air, and he has so much potential in the coming years. Even despite their performance, major online bookies like Betfair still see the Heat as 16/1 outsiders for the coming campaign. Can they go one better?
The 2020 NBA draft
The 2020 NBA draft was the last long-awaited event of this NBA season. It took place 5-months after schedule but it was just as incredible and teeth-shatteringly exciting. The delay of the draft had major effects on the teams, not least that every team had more time than ever to plan for the picks. Also, rookies will not go to the NBA’s annual summer league in Las Vegas, instead, they will go almost directly to their NBA season. Most training camps already started this month.
Nonetheless, let’s focus on the draft. The top-3 choices for this year were: Anthony Edwards for the Minnesota Timberwolves, James Wiseman to the Golden State Warriors, and LaMelo Ball to the Charlotte Hornets.
Edwards is a guard from Atlanta who reached a high-level performance at Georgia with 19.1 points per game last season and he was the SEC Freshman of the Year. He will have a very interesting year ahead of him as he has to find chemistry in a squad led by star center Karl Anthony Towns and point guard D’Angelo Russell. That said, Edwards will have to record a heck of a season to get the TImberwolves in contention, with online betting houses posting odds of 150/1 for the Minnesota outfit to win the Playoffs.
Wiseman just played three games last season. However, he is very skilled and we are confident that he will be a good addition to the Golden State Warriors who need to add more muscle to help Draymond Green. If things go according to plan, the squad can make a bid for another NBA final. For a team that reached the Playoff final in 5/5 previous seasons, last season’s finish wasn’t good enough and Betfred have the Warriors at 18/1 to scoop the championship. With players returning from injury and the addition of Wiseman, who could shape up as Rookie of the Year, the Warriors look a value bet pre-season but will have to get off to a good start.
LaMelo Ball went to the Charlotte Hornets. The younger brother of Lonzo Ball has had a rough couple of years, in which he had to play abroad in Lithuania and Australia before ending in the Hornets. Nonetheless, he is a gifted passer, and last year, he averaged 17 points, 7.5 rebounds, and 7 assists in 12 games for the Illawarra Hawks in Australia’s top NBA league. It would be a tall order for Ball to haul the Hornets anywhere near the playoffs, with the Charlotte side 200/1 rank outsiders and 60/1 to win the Eastern Conference.
The top-10 was decided with the No. 4 picks forward Patrick Williams from Florida State to the Chicago Bulls. Also, the Cleveland Cavaliers picked the No.5 seed for the second year in a row; this time around, they chose the incredible wing, Isaac Okoro. The No.6 seed was for the Atlanta Hawks who chose center Onyeka Okwongwu from USC. Then, the Detroit Pistons picked Killian Hayes, a talented point guard from France. The No. 8 seed belonged to the New York Knicks who chose Obi Toppin, a point forward from Dayton. The No.9 seed was awarded to the Washington Wizards who selected a talented Israeli player called Deni Avdija. The No.10 seed, another point forward, Jalen Smith from Maryland went to the Phoenix Suns.
The rest of the draft played without surprise. The lottery was also very calm, without a single trade until the back half of the first round.
NBA 2021 Season Preview: what to expect?
Even though the NBA Draft just took place, it is never too early to project how next year’s playoffs will play out. Which teams are already best positioned to threaten the defending champions, the Los Angeles Lakers?
We have witnessed a whirlwind offseason that was filled with massive trades, free agency and, of course, the NBA draft. The rosters are getting ready to play at the opening night just a couple of weeks away. Therefore, it’s time to take stock of which teams have what it takes to reach the playoffs.
Los Angeles Lakers
Last season’s record: 52-19
Result: NBA champions
2021 title odds: +275 (3.75)
Lebron James and Anthony Davis delivered the 17th championship to the Lakers. This year they look even better with renewed contracts for the best players and new additions. The best superstar tandem in the league will defend their title under the mastery of head coach Frank Vogel.
Last season’s record: 49-23
Result: L, West Semifinals
2021 title odds: +700 (8)
After a disappointing end of the season, owner Steve Ballmer took no chances and hired Ty Lue as the new coach. They will look to re-sign a couple of heavy hitters and free agents. But overall, they have a championship-caliber roster.
Last season’s record: 56-17
Result: L, East semifinals
2021 title odds: +700 (8)
They finished with the best record in the regular season for the second straight season but failed to reach the finals. Fortunately, they re-signed Giannis Antetokounmpo, the reigning MVP and Defensive Player of the Year. Still, some changes are needed for the roster to improve.
Last season’s record: 46-27
Result: L, West finals
2021 title odds: +2000 (21)
They have Playoff experience and two great players, Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray. Plus, it looks like Michael Porter Jr. seems eager to be the third start next season. A team to watch out for.
Last season’s record: 43-32
Result: L, first round
2021 title odds: +2500 (26)
Since Luka Doncic was picked as an MVP candidate, the Mavericks have hopes of being a championship contender. However, they do need Kristaps Porzingis to stay healthy!
The 2021 NBA season promises to be incredible. It will be fun to follow the trajectory of these amazing teams, but it will be even more interesting to see which teams can go head to head with the Lakers. King James can already smell another MVP finals trophy and championship. Can anyone deny him that? We’ll see when the season plays out.