The 2020-21 NBA regular season is going to be full of surprises. Here’s one bold prediction for each franchise heading into next season.
Every NBA team thinks they know what to expect when the regular season begins, but each campaign is full of surprises that catch everyone off guard. The challenge is predicting what unexpected occurrence will pop up before it actually happens.
This piece will make one bold prediction for each franchise. These projections aren’t for the faint of heart. Making the call that James Harden might lead the league in scoring is not bold. Touting Harden as a potential Defensive Player of the Year candidate would qualify. For the record, that prediction will not be made here. Let’s start with a bold call about one of the Eastern Conference’s most improved teams.
Atlanta Hawks: John Collins will be traded
The Hawks just have too many mouths to feed at the power forward position. It’s arguably the best position for Collins, Danilo Gallinari, and Bogdan Bogdanovic. Only one of those players has contract demands that make Atlanta’s front office uncomfortable.
That’s why the Hawks will make the decision to offload Collins rather than give him a lucrative extension. Flipping him for a quality wing might make Atlanta even more dangerous in the short-term.
Boston Celtics: Payton Pritchard will take Kemba Walker’s job
The Celtics have every right to be very concerned about Walker’s knee injury. Betting on sub-6-foot point guards to play well into their 30s is always risky. Throw in a mysterious injury and it’s easy to project a steep decline for Walker.
That gives Pritchard a chance to step up. Boston made him a first-round pick, in part, because of his potential to be an elite shooter. That ability to space the floor for Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will earn Pritchard big minutes as a rookie.
Brooklyn Nets: Caris LeVert will demand a trade
Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant are going to dominate the ball for this team. That’s bad news for a young guard like LeVert who is still trying to find his way in the NBA. He’s going to get frustrated very quickly with his new role in Brooklyn.
Fortunately, he still has fans in other front offices. He’ll ask for a trade, and Brooklyn will find a way to accommodate his request.
Charlotte Hornets: LaMelo Ball will set a turnover record
Ball is a tremendous talent, but he’s not ready to handle the ball as much as he’ll need to in Charlotte. The Hornets acquired Gordon Hayward to ease Ball’s workload, but he’s still going to be forced to run a ton of pick-and-rolls in his rookie campaign.
The results are going to be ugly. Look for Ball to throw the ball all around the gym. He’ll dislodge James Harden atop the NBA record book by turning it over more than 464 times.
Chicago Bulls: Lauri Markkanen will be moved
The Bulls need to either extend Markkanen or move him to a team that is willing to pay him. The fact that Chicago has a new front office means the sweet-shooting big is on thin ice.
Markkanen will have suitors on the trade market though. Stretch bigs are more valuable than ever. Someone will be willing to give Chicago a meaningful asset to take him off their hands.