Basketball, the game of Slame Dunke and Alley Oops! Any follower of basketball knows that the USA is a leading nation.
The NBA is one of the most recognizable brands in sports and have seen players like Micheal Jordan, Kobe Bryant, Hakeem Olajuwon, LeBron James, and more Today basketball is almost synonymous with the NBA.
A lot of Nigerians are also making waves with the game. Recently, Giannis Antetokounmpo, a Nigerian by birth, stole the show at the NBA All-Star game, as he won the MVP Award for 2021.
This achievement made him the 3rd player in NBA history, after Micheal Jordan and Kevin Garnett, to win an MVP, All-Star MVP, and Defensive Player of the Year award in his carrier.
The growing popularity of basketball has also meant that many Nigeria sports lovers are get more interested in basketball betting. But let’s take a closer look at the NBA and see what will likely happen this season.
Who wins the both conferences?
With the season just starting out, it is not too early to start predicting who will win the conferences. The new season will be shortened to 72 games instead of the regular 82 games season.
Barring any COVID-19 incident that would cause game suspension, the playoffs will take place by June.
Here are the predictions for the 2020-2021 NBA Season by some bookmarkers.
In the Eastern Conference, Milwaukee Bucks with a 22% chance, Philadelphia 76era with a 16% chance, While Miami Heats, Toronto Raptors, and Boston Celtics all have an 8% chance.
Miami Heat though have a line up that looks pretty intimidating. There aren’t many teams that have a better closing lineup than Jimmy Butler, Bam Adebayo, Goran Doragic, Tyler Herro, and Duncan Robinson.
The Heats are also very flexible and can change playing styles to match or counter any opponent.
Finally, they have Erik Spoelstra, one of the best coaches in the NBA and player development programs in the league.
This is a team in the rise. Blocking their path is Brooklyn Nets, who have a 50% chance of winning the title.
A healthy Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving in the Nets team can be an overwhelming duo and a matchup problem for any team in the conference.
In the Western Conference, the major Contenders are the LA Clippers, Denver Nuggets, and LA Lakers. Lakers with Lebron James and Anthony Davies will be teaming up with a new set of youngsters and will definitely want to repeat and become the first team to raise a banner 18th.
Lakers have over 40% chance of winning the conference. Kawhi Leonard and the LA Clippers, still reeling from falling short of expectations last season, will be playing with a chip on their shoulders.
It is either the Championship or nothing for the Clippers. Clippers have a 29% chance of winning, While Utah Jazz is predicted to have a 22% chance of clinching the title.
Games to look out for
The game between LA Lakers vs LA Clippers is one every Basketball lover should look out for. No other rivalry carries as much press attention and public attention on the east coast like Lakers – Clippers. They play in the same city and the same home court; but while Lakers have been very successful, Clippers have been somewhat a failure. It doesn’t get more bitter than this. Both sides meet on the 4th of April and 7th May 2021.
Another is the Texas rivalry involving Houston Rockets, Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs. All team play in Texas State, and have a bitter disdain for each other’s city, with a lot of bragging rights at stake. Both Houston Rockets and Dallas Mavericks play in Houston and their next match holds on the 8th of April 2021.
San Antonio Spurs V Dallas Mavericks is another game that will arouse the passions of both players and fans on the 12th of April 2021. While two crackers between Brooklyn Nets – Toronto Raptors will be on display on April 22nd and April 28th 2021.
Nigerian players in the NBA
Probably the most well known sports export of Nigeria to the USA is Hall of Famers Hakeem Olajuwon. Olajuwon, who helped Houston Rockets win back-to-back NBA championships in the mid-1990s, but currently there are over a dozen of Nigerian players in the NBA. This includes Giannis Atetokoumpo (Milwakee Bucks), Bam Adebayo (Miami Heat), Victor Oladipo (Houston Rockets) and Andre Iguodala (Miami Heat), Al-farouq Aminu (Orlando Magic), Josh Okogie (Minnesota Timberwolves), Chimezie Metu (Sacramento Kings), Isaac Okoro (Cleveland Cavaliers), and many more. Giannis Antetokounmpo, in particular, has resonated with not only the current crop of young players, but also those keeping up with him in Africa.
Regular Season MVP
As for who will win the regular season MVP, the favourites are popular names like James Harding, Nikola Jokic, LeBron James and Gianni’s Adetokumbo, the current MVP. This season is going to be quite competitive. Some sport bookmarker are predicting that James has a 44% chance if winning the award,Jokic has a 29% chance, 76er attacker Joel Embiid has 14% chance, while Nigerian Adetokunbo and James harden are predicted to have an 8% chance.
Last season, James Harden ended at the summit with over 2,300 points followed by Damian Lillard of Trail Blazers with 1,978 points, and Devin Booker of the Suns, with 1,863, and then by Nigerian-born Giannis Antetokumpo with 1,857 points. You can definitely count on one of these players to win the most points this season.
James Harden of Rockets will have Damian Lillard (Trail Brazers) and Duncan Robinson (Heats) Buddy Hield (Kings) to contend with for 3-pointers this season. Last season Harden led the pack with over 20 points. The trio will be looking to close the gap this season.
The popularity of the NBA is likely to continue, and from the predictions so far, this season is going to be pretty competitive.