The end of 2021 is almost upon us, and a new year of basketball is here for predictions to be made.
An NBA champion will be crowned, March Madness madness to come, an entire WNBA season, and tons of other hardwood action to come in 2022. And you have no idea what will happen.
But you don’t have to. Now, you can know 22 things that will definitely happen, because these basketball predictions are more assured than the unsinkable Titanic.
Sit back, relax, and enjoy these spoilers for what’s to come – these are 22 basketball predictions for 2022.
22 Basketball Predictions for 2022
1: Nets Wins the East
Brooklyn almost did it last year, and it wasn’t very healthy. If the Nets remain healthy in 2022, which I’m assuming they will with this prediction, they are the best basketball team in the East. I’m a big believer that the teams with the best players go the furthest, and in the East, that’s Brooklyn.[stu alias="fivestar1"][/stu]
Kyrie Irving probably won’t factor in, but having a fully healthy Kevin Durant AND James Harden is a gamechanger. The defense in the playoffs is so good that is can often come down to who can get you a bucket, and you won’t find many players in the world better at that than Durant or Harden. The Nets will be in the NBA Finals.
2: Lakers Are Champs
But it won’t be the Nets lifting the Larry O’Brien Trophy. The Los Angeles Lakers will win their second championship in three years, redeeming themselves for last season and putting LeBron James back upon his throne. It will be the King’s fifth ring and the first for Russell Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony. It won’t happen in Staples Center, but maybe this is how the Cryp is christened? Whether it’s in LA or elsewhere, the Lakers will get it done with talent and experience.
3: Celtics Miss Playoffs
The Celtics just aren’t passing the eye test. The team chemistry is no bueno and they have a first-year coach that still has much to learn. Maybe Boston will finish between the No. 7 and 10 spots in the East and find itself in the play-in portion of the postseason, but it won’t be one of the eight that ultimately compete in the playoffs.
4: Houston Fires Stephen Silas
The Rockets are 7-16 at the time I’m writing this and riding a six-game win streak that has come off the back of a 15-game negative skid. Although it’s been a nice run for Houston lately, the team’s 1-16 start is closer to its true colors than the 6-0 spurt since. The wheels will come off, and Silas will be a causality.
5: Timberwolves Deal KAT
The Timberwolves aren’t very good, and Karl-Anthony Town is very valuable. Minnesota is the kind of bad where it has expensive assets but zero title aspirations or chances – not to a good place to be. KAT’s frustrations combined with Anthony Edwards growing into his own makes me think the Timberwolves should scrap it and rebuild around Edwards, adding pieces that can help his growth. Towns could yield a lot in a trade, and acquiring young talent and draft picks that can translate into the same would do Minnesota well in future years.
6: Sixers Don’t Deal Simmons
One of the biggest offseason storylines was the falling out between Ben Simmons and the Sixers. Simmons is yet to feature this season and there’s no telling when that could change, or if it will.
A trade makes sense on the surface, but it won’t happen. With how Simmons has behaved in this situation, he isn’t a particularly attractive asset to other teams in the NBA. He’s also hasn’t played an NBA game since June, so other teams don’t have a current form to evaluate to determine his worth. What Simmons has shown is that when he is frustrated, he will sit. Why would anyone take a chance at having that happen to them?
You won’t see Simmons play in the 2021-22 season.
7: Jordan Poole for MIP
Jordan Poole started seven games and featured in 51 for Golden State in 2020-21, averaging 12.0 points, 1.9 assists, and 1.8 rebounds per game. The 21-year-old was a solid rotation player on a team that went 39-33.
Through the first 24 games of the 2021-22 season, Poole has started every contest, is putting up 17.9 points, 3.5 assists, and 3.2 rebounds per night. At just 22, he has greatly improved his role in one of the best teams in the NBA.
It’s important to note that he’s been given this opportunity while Klay Thompson has been recovering from an injury. Thompson will reclaim his starting spot when he’s healthy. But Poole has shown that he can be a massive depth piece for the Warriors as they aim to play basketball in June.
8: MVP Steph Curry
For the third time in his career, Steph Curry will win MVP. The Warriors are looking like they’ll be one of the best regular season teams in the league, and Curry been outstanding so far. I don’t expect that to slow down, and with Golden State back in the mix to win a title, a combination of his numbers, team success, and the allure of Curry will bring him his first MVP nod since 2016.
9: Dame Requests Trade
After the Trail Blazers miss the 2022 NBA Playoffs, it’ll be too much for Damian Lillard – he’ll request a trade and look elsewhere for greener pastures.
Lillard is too good of a player to languish on a team that is struggling to make any substantial noise, and Portland could get a haul for the superstar. In 2022, the divorce will happen.
10: Evan Mobley Wins Rookie of the Year
Selected No. 3 overall in the 2021 NBA Draft, Evan Mobley has had a good start to his NBA career, averaging 14.0 points and 8.1 rebounds per outing as of Dec. 8, 2021. His positive start will continue, and the upstart Cavs will be happy beneficiaries of Mobley’s production. He will be declared the cream of the 2021 crop with Rookie of the Year distinction.
11: Another DPOY for Draymond Green
Draymond Green was Defensive Player of the Year in the 2016-17 season, and he’ll bring home his second DPOY award for his efforts in the 2021-22 campaign.
For years now, Green has been one of the most formidable defensive forces in the NBA, and his defense to start this season is part of why Golden State has won more than 80 percent of its games thus far. It appears that the Warriors were used to know are back, and so too is lockdown Draymond.
12: WNBA Playoff Format Hits
The WNBA has experienced great growth in the last few years, and the product on the court has also been steadily improving. One of the biggest criticisms of the league was the playoff format, but the W announced a new format for the 2022 season and beyond in November.
Instead of putting teams in single-elimination situations and making teams that finish as high as No. 3 and No. 4 in the regular season to deal with a single-elimination round before hitting the best-of-five semifinals, every round will be a series, and byes are gone, too.
This is bring a longer playoffs with more games. The WNBA Playoffs have produced some amazing basketball, especially in recent years, but the previous format meant they were gone in the blink of an eye. This move will make the postseason feel more like a postseason and less like a quick tournament, and it will be a massive hit among current fans of the league and help bring in even more as the WNBA’s growth shows no sign of slowing down.
13: Rhyne Howard Goes No. 1 in WNBA Draft
Kentucky’s superstar will go No. 1 overall in the 2022 WNBA Draft. The WNBA Draft Lottery will happen on Dec. 19, but I don’t care who wins – whether it’s the Fever, Dream, Mystics, or Wings via the Sparks, they’re taking Howard.
14: The W Expands
At some point in 2022, the WNBA will announce expansion. Commissioner Cathy Engelbert has basically already said as much, but this prediction still counts.
15: The W Expands to Toronto and Nashville
Fine, that isn’t good enough? Okay then, I’ll make a prediction for where the new basketball teams will be: Toronto and Nashville.
Ontario has turned into a basketball hotbed, and Toronto is screaming out for a WNBA team. This feels like the first and most obvious choice.
The current WNBA map is heavy on the East Coast, West, and Midwest with the Dream and Wings the only teams representing the South. Nashville helps fill in a big gap on the map to expose the league to new fans, plus Tennessee has a rich history of supporting women’s basketball. The city wants it, and Nashville has been booming in recent years.
I think Philadelphia have to wait until the next round of expansion. Sorry, Philly.
16: Caitlin Clark Wins Naismith Awards
There are a lot of really talented players in women’s college basketball right now, including the winner from 2021, Paige Bueckers. But Bueckers just went down with what looks to be a serious injury, and beyond that, Caitlin Clark is absurdly good at basketball.
Clark is already in the midst of a spectacular sophomore season just six games in. She already has two triple-doubles and is averaging 25.9 points, 7.2 assists, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.3 steals per game as I write this. She’s shooting terribly from three (24.6 percent), but she connected on 40.6 percent of her deep looks in 2020-21, so you have to assume that will balance itself out as the season goes on.
Clark is an incredible player with an incredible future, and she will win the 2022 Naismith Award.
17: Pac-12 Title Race Will Be the Best
The race for the Pac-12 men’s basketball championship will be the best in the country. USC, UCLA, and Arizona are all very good this year, and there doesn’t look to be a whole lot of separation between them right now. My prediction is the chase for this crown will come down to the wire and be the most exciting men’s basketball conference title race.
18: The Coaching Carousel Is Insane
Like we’ve seen with college football, the college basketball coaching carousel will be absolutely insane in 2022. Probably not to the same degree as in college football, because there’s more money and pressure to win immediately in that sport, but the money and pressure in college hoops is continuing to grow. Most importantly, though, the pandemic is “over,” and all the firings and big contracts that were stunted by COVID-19 in 2020 and 2021 will be in overdrive in 2022.
Already Maryland is coach-less, and I wouldn’t expect the Terps to be the only big name looking for a new boss in 2022.
19: Maryland Hires Nate Oats
Yep, totally gonna happen. Not at all wishful thinking from someone who is biased. This is fully rooted in logic, reason, and an understanding that everything always works out well for Maryland, right guys?
20: Colorado State Is Cinderella
I said it in the preseason and I’ll say it again: Colorado State men’s basketball is legit. The Rams will go deep in the 2022 NCAA Tournament to at least the Sweet 16, but I don’t think the Elite Eight is out of the question. That’s how much I believe in Niko Medved’s project.
21: Men’s Final Four – Gonzaga, Alabama, Kentucky, Texas
I don’t even need to see the bracket first. Gonzaga, Alabama, Kentucky, and Texas will all be in different regions, they will all win their regions, and my basketball-expert Final Four prediction from the preseason will be correct.
If two or more of these teams are in the same region, there won’t be a Final Four.
22: Women’s Final Four – UConn, South Carolina, Stanford, Iowa
A mostly-predictable Final Four, plus an Iowa team that will be carried hard by the hero Caitlin Clark, will make up the national semifinalists in 2022. But that doesn’t mean it’ll be boring – it never is.
Who will win? Do I look like Nostradamus to you?