With NBA training camps set to begin in a few days and the preseason right on its heels, ’tis the season of way too early predictions and hot takes. Hoops Habit’s very own Duncan Smith has already made predictions for every NBA team, and ESPN recently released its top 100 list. We will be fast-forwarding to the NBA Playoffs and forecasting the 2022 Conference Finals in this edition of way too early predictions.
The 2021 NBA Playoffs were a wild one and full of surprises. We saw teams like the Atlanta Hawks and the Phoenix Suns defy all odds and make the conference Finals after failing to make the playoffs the year prior. The Miami Heat were swept in the first round after making a Finals appearance in 2021. Last season was just the second time NBA fans witnessed a Conference Finals round without LeBron James in the last ten years. Both title favorites, the Los Angeles Lakers and the Brooklyn Nets, suffered injuries to key players and were eliminated by the end of the second round.
The NBA will always be a superstar-driven league.
Last season, we saw young stars on the rise like Devin Booker, and Trae Young lead their teams to the Conference Finals and the NBA Finals in Booker’s case. You can only play who’s in front of you, but their postseason success was primarily due to circumstance and critical injuries to the opposition.
With so many superstars teaming up with each other nowadays and many of those superstars expected to be healthy next season, only a handful of teams have a realistic chance of making a deep enough run to compete in the Conference Finals.
Without further delay, let’s take a look at the four superstars this writer expects, at the very least, to lead their team to the Conference Finals.