Basketball is a game that constantly evolves. Players and teams are always developing new techniques and strategies, constantly trying to stay ahead of their competition. With players like LeBron James still going strong at age 37, we have no idea how the sport’s top talent will look seven years from now, which means speculating on what’s in store is a fool’s errand.
Still, it can’t hurt to poke our heads into the future occasionally and see what hoops have in store for 2022. Here are five things that will be happening in the NBA in 2022.
1. A New Big Three
The Golden State Warriors dynasty started when David Lee, Stephen Curry, and Klay Thompson were all on the same team. After winning two of the past three championships and having two more Finals appearances, people have assumed a similar setup will be necessary for other teams to have similar success.
But it turns out that wasn’t the case. Instead of trying to replicate what the Dubs did, the rest of the league has instead shifted towards building a new type of Big Three. One where each star’s strengths mesh with their teammates rather than one where multiple stars try to fit together like puzzle pieces.
2. No One’s Underestimating the Raptors
The Toronto Raptors were able to use its depth to make it to this year’s NBA Finals. While they lost in several games, it’s clear that most teams will have to be prepared for four-out basketball going forward. That includes the rest of Canada as well. The only thing stopping Toronto from winning a championship was its lack of a second star. By 2022, that’s no longer an issue.
3. A Golden Oldies Team
Just as many players are still going strong well into their thirties, many teams continue to do well in their forties. The Lakers have Russell Westbrook, the Clippers have Kawhi Leonard, the Wizards have Kristaps Porzingis, and Giannis still leads the Bucks.
But for years now, there’s been a shift in basketball’s status quo. As the youth becomes more of a commodity in the NBA, old age has become something that’s looked down upon. Therefore by 2022, you’ll find many teams on their third and fourth coach in a row.
4. Get Ready for the Dark Horse Team to Win it All
The Warriors were an anomaly in getting where they did. After all, most of the time, there’s no way that a team with so many stars and so much depth can win three straight championships without any major weaknesses. So, while Golden State was able to win three titles in four years, that’s not that much of a feat. Also, some of the Lakers rumors floating around on the internet on other signings might be close to the truth.
So, people will expect to see the next iteration of a team win it all, whether that’s the Raptors, Celtics, or new franchise in Los Angeles that should have success with the new signing and strengths in the teams.
5. The NBA Draft is a Big Deal
No more college basketball superstars are entering the NBA draft. After the creation of the NBA2K league and the money that comes with it, no incoming players see college basketball as a viable alternative to pro ball.
As a result, each year’s Draft will become bigger and bigger. Some years it’ll be because one player is expected to go higher than most expect. Other years it’ll be because fans are convinced there will always be a bust from this draft class. Regardless, the 2022 Draft will have much more attention than most other drafts in recent memory.
The future’s unpredictable, but there’s no point in discussing things happening well after 2022. While we can’t know for sure what the league will look like in a year or two, there are still plenty of things that can happen to help shape the NBA of the near future. And as we get closer to 2023, it’s more important than ever to grasp what the league looks like today. In addition, it’s important to realize that the league is constantly changing, which means projections don’t always work. No matter what happens, remember that you can always look at the present for an overview of where things stand.