Typically, the NBA season starts in late October or early November but because the COVID-19 pandemic delayed the previous season in the middle of March, everything got pushed back which made the 2020-21 season start now in late December.

For the 2020-21 season, the biggest changes are that each team plays 72 games instead of the typical 82 and the teams that finish in the 7-10 range in their conferences have to participate in a play-in tournament to determine seeds and give the teams that finish ninth and tenth a final shot at making the playoffs.

Here are predictions for the 2020-21 NBA season.

Raptors finish seventh

The Toronto Raptors have been one of the better teams in the east over the past half-decade. They've finished at the top of the standings as the one or two seed multiple times over the past few years and were the 2019 NBA champions.

Heading into this season, their team has been decimated by losses as players have left the organization. They don't have a true superstar as Kawhi Leonard is no longer apart of the team and they don't have a top scorer like DeMar DeRozan was while he was apart of the Raptors. This offseason, their frontcourt duo of Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol left for Los Angeles and were replaced with players tiers below them.

To replace Ibaka and Gasol, the Raptors signed Aron Baynes and Alex Len to be their new centers. While Baynes should get quality minutes and will be relied upon on a nightly basis, Len will be glued to the bench more often than not.

While the Raptors were able to bring back Fred VanVleet and still have a strong core of himself, Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam, and OG Anunoby, the east has gotten a lot better than this team is accustomed to and will ultimately finish seventh in the conference which will force them to be in the play-in tournament.

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Wiseman wins Rookie of the Year

James Wiseman only appeared in three games with the Memphis Tigers in college last year before he withdrew to focus on preparing for the draft which he was selected second overall by the Golden State Warriors.

Wiseman will fit well nicely in Golden State which has lacked a true center for the past little bit.

Wiseman will be relied upon heavily to grab rebounds and put balls in the net from a close distance while on the court. With Steph Curry back in action, there will be lots of rebounds for Wiseman to grab and despite the shooting guard being arguably the best three-point shooter to ever play the game, his percentage beyond the arc is at a career mark of 43.5 meaning there will be missed shots from number 30.

There are many other guys on the Warriors that Wiseman will be able to get offensive rebounds off of including Kelly Oubre Jr (43.1 from field goal and 32.9 from three), Draymond Green (43.5 from field goal and 31.9 from three), Andrew Wiggins (44.1 from field goal and 33.2 from three) among others.

With his 7'1 frame, a wingspan of 7'6, standing reach of 9'6, and vertical of over 12 feet, Wiseman will be able to hang in with other big men in the league, especially ones that are undersized and smaller than him.

To sum it up, when the Warriors have the ball in their hands, Wiseman will be asked to hang under the net, grab the rebound if there is one, and put the ball right in for two points. Along with defensive rebounds, this will allow Wiseman to average and get double-doubles which will get him the Rookie of the Year award.

LaMelo Ball flops in rookie year

In this year's draft class, no one has gotten more of the spotlight than LaMelo Ball who the media and basketball world has been watching since the age of 13.

The media spotlight on the youngest Ball brother has basically allowed people to watch him grow up.

Now in the NBA coming over from a year playing in Australia, LaMelo will have professional experience, unlike most rookies which could allow kind of a head start for him playing at the highest level. Despite his professional experience, he will struggle in his first year in the NBA.

He has a bit of an awkward shooting form which will allow some opposing defenders to get blocks off his shots and he also isn't a consistent shooter in which he'll post low shooting percentages from all over. In Australia, he shot 37.5 percent from field goal range and just 25 percent from the three. With better defense at the NBA level, it will get harder for him to score which he will have to rely on his elite vision and passing abilities to make an impact on the court.

Hornets fans shouldn't worry though. He has a chance to be something special and a future building block. Year one in the NBA for Ball will just be seen as "growing pains".

Avdija finishes top three in ROY voting

Deni Avdija slid all the way to the Washington Wizards at the ninth pick which many viewed as a surprise as many mock drafts had him going as high as fourth overall. As the Wizards were lucky to get him, many outlets tabbed him as the steal of the draft.

Avdija is arguably the most polished player in the draft as he has years of professional experience playing with Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel during which time they were viewed as one of the best international teams in the world as well as the league that they play in.

The 6'9" Israeli doesn't necessarily have one facet of his game that stands out over the rest but is viewed as a player that can contribute in multiple aspects of the game. As this is the case, he will have a strong rookie season that will give him Rookie of the Year consideration but will ultimately fall short of getting the award due to his shooting inconsistencies and perhaps, lack of playing time.

Doncic MVP

The youngest player to ever win MVP in the NBA is Derrick Rose who did so at the age of 23 in the 2010-11 season. That record will be broken as Luka Doncic will win the MVP award this season which he will do so at the age of 22 with his birthday being in February.

Last season, Doncic averaged a near triple-double with 28.8 points, 9.4 rebounds, and 8.8 assists.

With Kristaps Porzingis out for the start of the season, Doncic will be heavily relied upon to produce and he will step up to the challenge. This could also allow him to average a triple-double by season's end which will get him the MVP award.

Nuggets get first seed

The Western Conference contains many teams that are playoff-caliber which ultimately means that some good teams are going to have to go home once the season ends. Among the playoff-caliber teams are the ones that are at the top of them all which most notably include the Los Angeles Lakers and the Los Angeles Clippers.

While both Los Angeles teams have a top-five player playing for them, neither will finish in first-place when the regular season is over as it will be the Denver Nuggets that are the ones standing at the top.

They have a very good duo of Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray while Michael Porter Jr is expected to have a breakout season by many and so could their tall, lanky rookie in Bol Bol. They also have great complementary pieces in Paul Millsap, Gary Harris, Monte Morris among others.

In regards to the LA teams, the Lakers are expected to rest LeBron James early on in the season and the Clippers have chemistry issues which will ultimately get in the way of getting either team the first seed.

The Nuggets are a young team on the rise and they're only going to get better from here.

Suns and Hawks make the playoffs

When play resumed in the bubble, the Phoenix Suns went on a run as they won all of their eight games but ultimately didn't make the playoffs due to poor regular season play.

The front office went out and improved the team by trading for Chris Paul and improving the depth of the team by signing Langston Galloway and defensive stalwart Jae Crowder. With Deandre Ayton expected to take a big leap forward in year three, the Suns will push themselves into the top eight and into the playoffs.

Meanwhile, in the Eastern Conference, the Atlanta Hawks seemed to have finally fixed their frontcourt which they are now loaded with options in John Collins, Clint Capela, and rookie Onyeka Okongwu. Pair that with their dynamic playmaker in Trae Young who likes to shoot the ball from afar, they have players who can grab his rebounds when he misses his shots. They also brought in Danilo Gallinari and Bogdan Bogdanovic to improve their bench which also improves their team as a whole.

This will be the Hawks' first playoff appearance in a while and of many more to come in the future.

Bucks/Lakers finals

The teams that arguably possess the best and second-best player in the league will meet each other in the finals in what will be a great matchup. Every season, it seems like the Milwaukee Bucks do really well in the regular season but choke in the playoffs which they have done in the past two years. They traded for Jrue Holiday which got them rid of Eric Bledsoe and added D.J. Augustin, Bryn Forbes, and Bobby Portis to their bench.

With the Lakers, they are apparently planning on resting LeBron early in the season so he can be as healthy as possible for the playoffs and got him a point guard he's been needing on the team when they acquired Dennis Schroder.

They also upgraded their frontcourt in Montrezl Harrell and Marc Gasol and you have to remember that one of them will be coming off the bench due to the presence of superstar Anthony Davis.

This will be a great matchup in which Giannis Antetokounmpo will be looking for his first ring with LeBron looking for his fifth. Regardless of who wins, there will be two storylines that come out of this finals matchup. If the Bucks emerge victorious, people will debate whether Giannis has taken the throne as the best player in the league. If the Lakers go back-to-back and defend their title, the debate between if LeBron or Michael Jordan is the greatest of all time will gain steam.

It will be a great matchup regardless of the outcome.