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2020-2021 NBA Predictions



The NBA is already back in action after an abbreviated offseason that included a number of key moves and franchise-altering decisions. To get you prepared for the coming season, Ben Masterson and Matt Harris provided their predictions for the NBA playoffs and season awards.

Playoff Seeding (Including play-in teams)


Eastern Conference


Matt Harris:

  1. Brooklyn Nets

  2. Milwaukee Bucks

  3. Miami Heat

  4. Boston Celtics

  5. Toronto Raptors

  6. Philadelphia 76ers

  7. Indiana Pacers

  8. Atlanta Hawks

  9. Washington Wizards

  10. Orlando Magic

Ben Masterson:

  1. Milwaukee Bucks

  2. Brooklyn Nets

  3. Miami Heat

  4. Philadelphia 76ers

  5. Boston Celtics

  6. Toronto Raptors

  7. Indiana Pacers

  8. Atlanta Hawks

  9. Washington Wizards

  10. Orlando Magic


Western Conference


Harris:

  1. Denver Nuggets

  2. Los Angeles Lakers

  3. Portland Trailblazers

  4. Los Angeles Clippers

  5. Dallas Mavericks

  6. Utah Jazz

  7. Phoenix Suns

  8. Houston Rockets

  9. New Orleans Pelicans

  10. Sacramento Kings

Masterson:

  1. Los Angeles Lakers

  2. Los Angeles Clippers

  3. Denver Nuggets

  4. Dallas Mavericks

  5. Phoenix Suns

  6. Utah Jazz

  7. Portland Trailblazers

  8. Houston Rockets

  9. New Orleans Pelicans

  10. Memphis Grizzlies



Most Valuable Player

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Harris: Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers

Everyone is hopping on the Luka Doncic train, which is completely fair. He’s a terrific player who’s going to win a couple of these in the near future. However, I’m going with Anthony Davis. Davis is clearly the Lakers' #1 option and should be able to dominate like he did last year—with or without LeBron James on the floor.


Masterson: Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks

When I’m looking at MVP candidates, I like to find the player with the clearest path to winning this award. And to me, that’s Luka. I expect the Mavericks to finish in the top four in the West this year, and with a very injury-prone Kristaps by his side, that regular-season success would fall almost entirely on Luka.



Most Improved Player

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Harris: Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets:

MPJ showed flashes of what he can do in the bubble seeding games, averaging 22 points and nine rebounds. The loss of Jerami Grant opens up a spot for him in the starting lineup and he should be a nice third wheel alongside Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray.


Masterson: Christian Wood, Houston Rockets

The Rockets got a steal of a signing when the Detroit Pistons failed to retain Christian Wood this offseason. There are a number of names I could see winning this award (Michael Porter Jr, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander), but I believe Christian Wood has such a solid opportunity to show the league what he’s got while being the go-to big man in Houston this season.


Defensive Player of the Year

Michael Reeves/Getty Images

Harris: Marcus Smart, Boston Celtics

I’m doing this solely because I want to see a guard win this award, and with Smart’s athleticism, versatility, and ability to block shots and get steals, I think he has a legitimate chance of winning it.


Masterson: Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat

Bam was the defensive anchor for the Heat last season and has improved his numbers on the defensive end every season in his young career. I expect Bam to take the next step in his development and become the monster that he’s expected to be for the Heat organization.



Coach of the Year

Christian Petersen/Getty Images

Harris: Mike Malone, Denver Nuggets

With LeBron likely to be missing some games due to rest, that could potentially open the door for the Denver Nuggets to grab a hold of the one seed in the West. Malone is an awesome coach and should be rewarded if the Nuggets continue to do well.


Masterson: Monty Williams, Phoenix Suns

The Suns have positioned themselves nicely to be a legitimate title contender in the coming years with all of the pieces they’ve accumulated, and Williams already received some buzz when the Suns went undefeated in the bubble. I expect the Suns to finish within the top five in the West with the addition of Chris Paul, but they need a good coach to get them there.



Rookie of the Year

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images

Harris: LaMelo Ball, Charlotte Hornets

This is the chalk pick, but LaMelo Ball will play a lot and should be able to put up good numbers on a bad Charlotte Hornets team.


Masterson: James Wiseman, Golden State Warriors

Wiseman will get a great opportunity to put up big numbers in his first season with the Warriors, and it helps that he’ll have Steph Curry feeding him the ball.