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2020-21 NBA season predictions: Can anyone knock off the Lakers?

Yahoo Sports Staff
·2-min read

The Los Angeles Lakers barely just won the 2019-20 NBA championship, but it’s already time to make predictions for the 2020-21 NBA season.

The season starts Tuesday after a condensed offseason, a whirlwind week of the 2020 NBA draft and free agency and a shortened season amid the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of 82 games, this season will have 72 and only half of the schedule has been announced. The second half will be released sometime before the All-Star break, which will not include an All-Star game this season.

The postseason also gets a revamp with an added play-in tournament that will feature the seventh- through 10th-place teams in each conference. For these predictions, we’re selecting only the eight teams that will participate in the first round of the playoffs.

Some teams will try to host fans, but many games will be played in empty arenas. Without a bubble environment, it remains to be seen whether games will be postponed or canceled because of the coronavirus.

With so many unknowns, the Yahoo Sports NBA experts try to parse how a season unlike any other will play out. They’re in agreement that the Lakers will defend their title, but there is no other consensus.

Here are their predictions for the 2020-21 season.

2020-21 NBA playoff predictions

2020-21 NBA season predictions: Disappointing Team  Chris Haynes: Houston Rockets  Vincent Goodwill: Houston Rockets  Seerat Sohi: Utah Jazz  Ben Rohrbach: Houston Rockets  LaJethro Jenkins: Philadelphia 76ers  Surprising Team  Chris Haynes: Atlanta Hawks  Vincent Goodwill: Atlanta Hawks  Seerat Sohi: New Orleans Pelicans  Ben Rohrbach: New Orleans Pelicans  LaJethro Jenkins: Atlanta Hawks  Eastern Conference playoff teams  Chris Haynes: 1. Bucks, 2. Celtics, 3. Nets, 4. Heat, 5. Raptors, 6. 76ers, 7. Wizards, 8. Hawks  Vincent Goodwill: 1. Bucks, 2. Nets, 3. Heat, 4. Celtics, 5. 76ers, 6. Raptors, 7. Hawks, 8. Wizards  Seerat Sohi: 1. Bucks, 2. Heat, 3. 76ers, 4. Nets, 5. Celtics, 6. Raptors, 7. Pacers, 8. Wizards  Ben Rohrbach: 1. Bucks, 2. Celtics, 3. 76ers, 4. Nets, 5. Heat, 6. Raptors, 7. Pacers, 8. Wizards  LaJethro Jenkins: 1. Nets, 2. Bucks, 3. Celtics, 4. Heat, 5. Hawks, 6. Raptors, 7. 76ers, 8. Pacers  Western Conference playoff teams  Chris Haynes: 1. Lakers, 2. Trail Blazers, 3. Nuggets, 4. Clippers, 5. Warriors, 6. Jazz, 7. Suns, 8. Mavericks  Vincent Goodwill: 1. Lakers, 2. Nuggets, 3. Clippers, 4. Jazz, 5. Mavericks, 6. Warriors, 7. Trail Blazers, 8. Suns  Seerat Sohi: 1. Lakers, 2. Clippers, 3. Nuggets, 4. Mavericks, 5. Pelicans, 6. Warriors, 7. Suns, 8. Trail Blazers  Ben Rohrbach: 1. Lakers, 2. Clippers, 3. Trail Blazers, 4. Nuggets, 5. Jazz, 6. Mavericks, 7. Warriors, 8. Pelicans  LaJethro Jenkins: 1. Lakers, 2. Nuggets, 3. Mavericks, 4. Clippers, 5. Trail Blazers, 6. Pelicans, 7. Warriors, 8. Suns  Eastern Conference finals matchup  Chris Haynes: Bucks vs. Nets  Vincent Goodwill: Bucks vs. Nets  Seerat Sohi: Nets vs. Heat  Ben Rohrbach: Bucks vs. Celtics  LaJethro Jenkins: Nets vs. Celtics  Western Conference finals matchup  Chris Haynes: Lakers vs. Trail Blazers   Vincent Goodwill: Lakers vs. Clippers  Seerat Sohi: Lakers vs. Clippers  Ben Rohrbach: Lakers vs. Clippers  LaJethro Jenkins: Lakers vs. Nuggets  NBA Finals matchup  Chris Haynes: Lakers vs. Bucks  Vincent Goodwill: Lakers vs. Nets  Seerat Sohi: Lakers vs. Nets  Ben Rohrbach: Lakers vs. Bucks  LaJethro Jenkins: Lakers vs. Nets  2020-21 NBA champion  Chris Haynes: Los Angeles Lakers  Vincent Goodwill: Los Angeles Lakers  Seerat Sohi: Los Angeles Lakers  Ben Rohrbach: Los Angeles Lakers  LaJethro Jenkins: Los Angeles Lakers  NBA Finals MVP  Chris Haynes: LeBron James  Vincent Goodwill: Anthony Davis   Seerat Sohi: Anthony Davis   Ben Rohrbach: LeBron James  LaJethro Jenkins: LeBron James
(Michael Wagstaffe/Yahoo Sports)
NBA Award Predictions: Most Valuable Player Chris Haynes: Damian Lillard, Portland Trail Blazers Vincent Goodwill: Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks Seerat Sohi: Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks Ben Rohrbach: Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers LaJethro Jenkins: Luka Doncic, Dallas Mavericks  Rookie of the Year Chris Haynes: Anthony Edwards, Minnesota Timberwolves Vincent Goodwill: James Wiseman, Golden State Warriors Seerat Sohi: Devin Vassell, San Antonio Spurs  Ben Rohrbach: Tyrese Haliburton, Sacramento Kings LaJethro Jenkins: James Wiseman, Golden State Warriors  Defensive Player of the Year Chris Haynes: Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers Vincent Goodwill: Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers Seerat Sohi: Bam Adebayo, Miami Heat  Ben Rohrbach: Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers LaJethro Jenkins: Anthony Davis, Los Angeles Lakers  Sixth Man Award Chris Haynes: Lou Williams, Los Angeles Clippers Vincent Goodwill: Caris LeVert, Brooklyn Nets Seerat Sohi: Talen Horton-Tucker, Los Angeles Lakers Ben Rohrbach: Norman Powell, Toronto Raptors  LaJethro Jenkins: Montrezl Harrell, Los Angeles Lakers  Most Improved Player Chris Haynes: Talen Horton-Tucker, Los Angeles Lakers Vincent Goodwill: Tyler Herro, Miami Heat Seerat Sohi: Jamal Murray, Denver Nuggets  Ben Rohrbach: Markelle Fultz, Orlando Magic LaJethro Jenkins: Michael Porter Jr., Denver Nuggets   Coach Of The Year Chris Haynes: Terry Stotts, Portland Trail Blazers Vincent Goodwill: Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat Seerat Sohi: Erik Spoelstra, Miami Heat  Ben Rohrbach: Terry Stotts, Portland Trail Blazers LaJethro Jenkins: Erik Spoelstra, Miami Hea  Executive of the Year Chris Haynes: Travis Schlenk, Atlanta Hawks president and GM Vincent Goodwill: Rob Pelinka, Los Angeles Lakers GM Seerat Sohi: James Jones, Phoenix Suns GM Ben Rohrbach: Rob Pelinka, Los Angeles Lakers GM LaJethro Jenkins: Rob Pelinka, Los Angeles Lakers GM
(Michael Wagstaffe/Yahoo Sports)

NBA season-opening schedule

The Golden State Warriors will open the 2020-21 season against the Brooklyn Nets (7 p.m. ET, TNT) on Tuesday. Steph Curry returns after suffering a broken hand just four games into last season to face Kevin Durant in his Nets debut.

The season-opening doubleheader concludes with the Los Angeles Clippers getting the first crack at the Lakers (10 p.m. ET, TNT).

The season continues with a full slate on Wednesday and a Christmas Day schedule with league heavyweights.

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