The 2021-22 NBA season starts tomorrow. So, without further ado, it's time for my annual preseason prediction of the eventual NBA champion. Last season, I nailed both my NBA (Milwaukee Bucks @ 13-2 odds) and College Basketball (Baylor @ 12-1 odds) futures bets to carry on what has been an unparalleled successful run on futures predictions. That was the 2nd straight NCAA Basketball season I hit my preseason ticket, as I forecast Virginia (at 22-1 odds) in the 2018-19 preseason! Also in 2019, I hit another huge longshot on the Washington Nationals (at 18-1 odds), and followed that up in 2020 with the Los Angeles Dodgers (at 4-1 odds). Among my other recent winners were the Houston Astros in 2017 (at 10-1 odds), Tampa Bay Lightning in 2020 (at 7-1 odds), San Antonio Spurs (2014, 14-1 odds; 1999, 11-2 odds), Golden State Warriors (2016, 5-1 odds; 2018, -160 odds), and Green Bay Packers (2011, 10-1 odds).
For this season, I'm going to turn to the team which Milwaukee ousted by two inches (the distance Kevin Durant was inside the 3-point arc) in the NBA quarterfinals: the Brooklyn Nets. The current odds on Brooklyn are +260 (at BetOnline), and they've remained largely unchanged throughout the current Kyrie Irving turmoil. It's undeniable that the Nets are a better team with Irving at point guard. His ability to break down a defense through dribble penetration allows both Kevin Durant and James Harden to operate more freely on the offensive end. But it's also undeniable that the Nets will be hugely competitive without him (as they were last season in his absence). I firmly believe the situation will eventually resolve itself one way or the other. Either Irving will get vaccinated, which will allow him to fully participate with Brooklyn, or he will remain intransigent. In that instance, no matter what Irving says today about being traded (he says he would retire), I believe cooler heads would prevail and GM Sean Marks would work out a trade to bring back pieces to Brooklyn. So, I'm more than comfortable taking the Brooklyn Nets, as currently constituted, to win the NBA Championship at +260.
Last season, even though an injury-riddled Brooklyn team lost the series to the eventual NBA champion Bucks, it outscored them in the 7-game playoff series by 2.86 ppg. And it also throttled Boston in the first round series by 11.2 ppg. I don't see anything -- not even Irving's principles -- getting in the way of Durant, Harden, and the rest of the Nets hoisting the Larry O'Brien NBA Championship Trophy in June. Take Brooklyn.
Good luck, as always,