It is quite possible that we will bare witness to the greatest season in NBA history this year. The 2022-23 NBA Season is filled with storylines, parody, and plenty of excitement. Before the season starts, let’s break down each team and see where they’ll end up:
Regular Season Standings Predictions
- Boston Celtics
Coming off of an NBA Finals loss, the Celtics shouldn’t hang their heads. After all, I had them as the offseason’s biggest winner in my previous article. Jayson Tatum is destined for a bounce-back year, and it seems like Jaylen Brown is constantly proving to be a reliable late-game option.
Malcolm Brogdon provides quality time off of the bench, and Robert Williams III and Marcus Smart should be in line for the All-Defensive First Team. I also have Ime Udoka winning Coach of the Year, being such a quality defensive guy. This team is special, maybe the most special in the league, but they’ll be tested in the playoffs.
- Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks are fully healthy and ready to make another NBA Finals run. Giannis Antetokounmpo will once again make another case for MVP, and we all know Khris Middleton’s cycle of being solid in the regular season, then turning it up in the playoffs.
I love rookie MarJon Beauchamp, who will probably see limited time as a first-year forward, but ultimately be effective. There’s really not much to say other than the Bucks made a Finals run two years ago, and they’re good enough to do it again because of the pieces they’ve kept and the pieces they’ve added.
- Philadelphia 76ers
Philly is stuck in a loop. The Process died years ago, and they can’t find a way to put it together. It looks like that will be more of the same this year. Joel Embiid and James Harden will have some help, as Tyrese Maxey has my pick for Most Improved Player, plus a great defender in P.J. Tucker, but it’s just not enough to get past the battle-tested teams like Milwaukee or Boston.
The Montrezl Harrell signing was good, but Harrell has lost the edge that he had with the Clippers, and Matisse Thybulle is such a liability on offense. Unfortunately, unless Philly makes another splash like they did with Harden, it’ll be just another failed playoff run.
- Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland is back for the first time since the LeBron Era. Donovan Mitchell gives the Cavs (who were just in the Play-In Tournament last year) an extra push with home-court advantage in the playoffs. Darius Garland, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen will be fun to watch as well, with Garland being a clear second option, and Mobley an elite scoring big.
The Cavs are basically a better version of the Detroit Pistons: young starters with veterans like Kevin Love and Caris LeVert off of the bench. It’ll definitely be interesting, but I’d really like this team to have a great regular season.
- Brooklyn Nets
First, I had the Nets as the biggest loser of the offseason. Then, they became an honorable mention for my biggest winners. Ultimately, though, Brooklyn didn’t improve significantly enough to be a top-four team, and they haven’t proved to be an elite team past the first round. Their biggest hole is at the center position, with the inexperienced Nic Claxton at the starting spot.
Kevin Durant will probably carry this team into the postseason, with some help from Kyrie Irving and Ben Simmons, but I still don’t see this team going through the 2022-23 season drama-free. Simmons compliments Irving and Durant, but does Irving really compliment Simmons and Durant? I just can’t see things working out with Kyrie and the team. I could definitely see them making a big trade midseason as they did in 2021 and 2022.
- Miami Heat
I think Miami is still elite, but because they failed to acquire Donovan Mitchell, nothing will really get better for them. Victor Oladipo is starting to regress, and Duncan Robinson, being a defensive liability, is not living up to his 5-year, $90 million contract.
Jimmy Butler will prove to do more of the same: become a slightly overrated player in the regular season and then average 30+ ppg in the playoffs. But I can’t see the Heat beating a team like Boston, Milwaukee, or even Philly. They just don’t have enough firepower off of the bench. They’re bound to take a step back.
- Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta finds its way back into the playoffs, this time with the duo of Trae Young and Dejounte Murray proving to be one of the best in the NBA. This team has a lot of special pieces on both sides of the floor, but last year proved that their 2021 Eastern Conference Finals run was a bit of a fluke.
I definitely see the Hawks improving from last year, but they are inexperienced. Murray has never played meaningful minutes in the postseason, and the bench doesn’t provide enough to get this team out of the first round.
- Toronto Raptors
Toronto is so young, and only getting better. Scottie Barnes will take a major leap, along with the help of proven stars like Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam. OG Anunoby is also a top defender who can score as well.
I think that overall this team is good, but the East is so competitive that they’re bound to drop in seeding. A surprise impact for them I think will be Precious Achiuwa, who came over from the Kyle Lowry trade. Achiuwa is a good defender, and I think he will take that leap into the starting center role after the first few games. Ultimately, however, I think they just miss the playoffs with back-to-back losses in the Play-In Tournament.
- Chicago Bulls
DeMar DeRozan is getting older, and I think he takes a step back this year. DeRozan had a scorching-hot start to the 2021-22 season, but he and the Bulls ultimately cooled down to be the sixth seed in the postseason, and I don’t see them getting as hot as they did last year.
Andre Drummond was a nice addition, but he hasn’t proven to be a high-impact player on any of the teams he’s played for. Goran Dragic is also nice, but he’s 36 years old. I see Zach LaVine proving he’s the clear best player in Chicago, but it’ll be tough for DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic to help him.
- Detroit Pistons
Jaden Ivey is the real deal. I have him taking home Rookie of the Year, and with Cade Cunningham looking to build off of a great rookie season, I think Detroit finds a way to shock a lot of people. I’m also a huge believer in Jalen Duren, who is a defensive force and similar to a young DeAndre Jordan or, dare I say it, a young Dwight Howard.
This young run-and-gun team also has veteran leadership in Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, and Kemba Walker. With them coming off of the bench, I think you can have any lineup at the end of the game on any given night. Mixing in Cade/Ivey with Kemba/Burks allows for those young guys to build off of veteran playmaking. This team is going to be fun to watch.
- New York Knicks
I’m a Knicks fan, but I’m not a biased Knicks fan. I know this team isn’t good enough to make the Play-In, even if RJ Barrett has a major leap in his fourth year. Had the Knicks traded for Donovan Mitchell, they would’ve been poised for at least the sixth seed, but it didn’t pan out.
Trotting out a lineup of Jalen Brunson, Evan Fournier, RJ Barrett, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson is solid, but I think they’ll finish one win under the Pistons, which pushes them out of the picture. This season is going to be more of the same as last year: start off hot, then go cold, and never really get it going. Sorry Knicks fans (again).
- Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets were a bit of a dumpster fire this offseason. Montrezl Harrell and Miles Bridges got into legal trouble over the summer, and are no longer on the team, with Bridges most likely not playing in the NBA ever again.
LaMelo Ball needs help, and I think James Bouknight will improve in an increased role, but not enough to replace Bridges. Rookie Mark Williams will prove to be an effective defensive option over Harrell, but the offense is what needs work. The Hornets’ regular season will pan out the way their summer did.
- Washington Wizards
Washington made a colossal mistake in extending Bradley Beal. I had the Wizards as one of the biggest losers of the offseason because they should’ve traded Beal last season and blown up the team.
This team doesn’t have any sort of help to give Beal, and while Washington isn’t last, they’re damn near close to it. I think rookie Johnny Davis will have a solid start to his career, but that’s really the only bright spot to this team besides Beal most likely making another All-Star Game. The Wizards will once again be mediocre.
- Orlando Magic
Congrats, Magic! You move up one spot in the standings from last year! There’s really not much to be said about this team. They’re virtually the same team as last year, besides drafting Paolo Banchero with the number one overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft.
Banchero will have a fine rookie season, getting plenty of touches, but this young core of Banchero, Cole Anthony, Jalen Suggs, and Franz Wagner has promise. Markelle Fultz is still the biggest question mark on the team, and the centers are also shaky in Mo Bamba and Bol Bol. Patience, Magic fans.
- Indiana Pacers
The Pacers nearly had Deandre Ayton in the palm of their hands this summer, but the contract offer they gave was ultimately matched by the Pheonix Suns, which keeps Ayton in Arizona. I think Tyrese Haliburton is the real deal, and certainly a candidate for the Most Improved Player award. I also think rookie Bennedict Mathurin will be a similar player to Andrew Wiggins, but he’s only a rookie, so his impact is limited.
Besides that, there isn’t much to be said about this team. If I were a Pacers fan, I wouldn’t be distraught as the last seed in the East. The Pacers finally have a set direction after the Victor Oladipo and Domantas Sabonis Era, and now they enter the highly-touted Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes.
- Los Angeles Clippers
This team is scary. I mean really scary. The Clippers have always been known as the Lakers’ “little brother.” Not this season. Actually, yes, they always will be because that’s just how it’s always been with the Lakers’ successful history. But this year the Clippers are on a mission. They’re hungrier than ever. Kawhi Leonard looks to lead his third team to a third championship. The only other player to lead three teams to a championship is LeBron James.
Leonard and Paul George are fully healthy, and the Clippers added even more firepower in John Wall. Wall has looked great in offseason workouts, most recently in the Rico Hines runs at UCLA (via @Ballislife on YouTube) and even though he’s had his struggles with staying healthy, in his last season with the Houston Rockets, he averaged 20.6 ppg and 6.9 apg. With returning veterans in Norman Powell, Marcus Morris, and Reggie Jackson, the Clippers are a heavy favorite to make it out of the West. I wouldn’t be surprised if this team wins 60+ games.
- Golden State Warriors
The defending champions are coasting right now. They kept their young pieces after rumors of making a massive trade for Kevin Durant over the summer. While a trade for Durant would’ve made the most sense for Golden State, holding off is still a win. The Warriors still have rapidly developing players in Jordan Poole, Jonathan Kuminga, James Wiseman, and Moses Moody. Other than Poole, who is already a top player on the team, these guys will look to be placed in an increased role from Steve Kerr.
Stephen Curry isn’t going anywhere anytime soon, and Klay Thompson is playing in his first full season since 2019. Thompson returned to the court mid-season in 2022, but there was no real expectation for him to be as impactful as he was. He averaged 20.4 ppg in 2022, and we can certainly see that number increase this upcoming season. Overall, the Warriors are aiming for another championship, and it’s certainly possible.
- Pheonix Suns
The Pheonix Suns had a nightmarish end to their 2022 season. Back-to-back blowout losses in the second round of the playoffs are something that they definitely want to forget. It nearly got ten times worse when Deandre Ayton accepted an offer to join the Indiana Pacers over the summer, but Pheonix quickly matched it and kept him.
The Suns didn’t make any significant additions in the offseason, nor did they lose anyone significant, so naturally I have them in a relatively similar spot to last year with not too many West teams changing. However, if the Suns can’t get it done this year, something has to change, because this team, specifically All-Star point guard Chris Paul, isn’t getting any younger.
- Denver Nuggets
After a long wait, Denver finally has Jamal Murray back. After a torn ACL kept him out for over a year, Murray was certainly missed and could’ve given the Nuggets a higher spot in the playoffs last year after the Nuggets lost to the Warriors in five games. Michael Porter Jr. is also back after injury. Porter Jr. averaged 19.0 ppg in his last full season, so he will certainly be a viable third option for this Denver squad.
I don’t think Denver has what it takes to make significant noise in the postseason, but a midseason trade could give them a boost. Nikola Jokic looks to make another MVP run, but just like Pheonix, if the Nuggets can’t get it done, they have to shake things up.
- Dallas Mavericks
Dallas is in a tough spot after a magical 2022 postseason run. The Mavs got all the way to the Western Conference Finals with Luka Doncic leading the way, but can they do it again? It’ll be tough, with starting point guard Jalen Brunson leaving for the New York Knicks. Brunson was a massive part of that epic run, but Spencer Dinwiddie looks to take his place as the starting point guard.
New addition Christian Wood looks to fill the hole Dallas has had at the center, but Wood is a bit of a stat-stuffer, only putting up great numbers with lottery teams like Detroit and the Houston Rockets. Whether Dallas proves to be consistent is yet to be seen, but there are definitely pieces that can get them there. Luka is my favorite to win MVP, so hopefully has the help he needs to cement his legacy as more than a great player on a mediocre team.
- New Orleans Pelicans
Zion is back, and he’s more than a player that gets harassed on Twitter for his weight. The Pelicans surprised a lot of people last season when they traded for CJ McCollum, then made the postseason and took the first-seed Suns to six games. Brandon Ingram, who was the first option while Zion Williamson was out, looks to be a valuable second option on offense with Williamson coming back from a 27.0-ppg 2021 campaign. This team is still super young, with guys like Zion, Jose Alvarado, Herb Jones, and rookie Dyson Daniels showing so much promise.
I love Daniels as a playmaker for this squad and I love Alvarado’s tenacity on defense. There’s no reason why Alvarado and Daniels shouldn’t split time as the starting point guard. Devonte Graham is my pick for Sixth Man of the Year. I think he’ll prove to a lot of people that he can still be an 18-ppg scorer like he was with the Charlotte Hornets.
- Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves did the right thing in trading for Rudy Gobert, despite giving a haul. That being said, the Timberwolves haven’t proven to be a great team in the regular season. Last season, they pushed the Memphis Grizzlies to seven games in the first round, but as the seventh seed. I think it’ll be more of the same, this time with a Defensive Player of the Year in Gobert.
The T-Wolves gave up valuable guys in Malik Beasley, Patrick Beverley, and Jarred Vanderbilt, so I have them in this spot because the bench is weaker than last year. Nevertheless, they’ll be competitive with Anthony Edwards looking to make a huge leap into stardom.
- Memphis Grizzlies
I hate to say it, but I think last year was a bit of a fluke for Memphis. Ja Morant is a top-five point guard in the NBA, but I don’t see them having as good a regular season as last season. They brought a ton of rookies onto the team, which means inexperience and time for growth.
Guys like Morant, Dillon Brooks, Desmond Bane, and Jaren Jackson Jr. will hold their own, but I can’t see the rest of the Grizzlies pulling their weight. It’ll be the rookies adjusting most of the year, which will hold them back from the postseason, as I think they just lose twice in the Play-In Tournament.
- Los Angeles Lakers
Assuming this team is done with their offseason moves, the Lakers are nothing special. What was once a team cruising to the championship in 2020, has become a difficult situation filled with aging players and dysfunction. I don’t mind the Darvin Ham hiring, but let’s be honest, it’s nobody’s team but LeBron’s. This is virtually the same situation as last year: LeBron and Anthony Davis, Russell Westbrook continuing to struggle, and a bunch of average role players.
LeBron can take this team past the Play-In, but nothing more than that. He’ll most likely put up another unreal season at his age, but I’m not convinced that Anthony Davis will stay fully healthy and be the guy he once was. Jeanie Buss said that Russell Westbrook was their “best player” last year (via The Athletic). To quote the great Stephen A. Smith, that, along with the rest of the Laker team, is “blasphemous!”
- Sacramento Kings
Kings fans, rejoice! Your team has the chance to legitimately compete for a playoff spot! Never mind that they’ll lose out, it’s still a positive (kind of)! The Kings have some talented players in De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis, not to mention a developing Davion Mitchell, plus solid role players in Harrison Barnes and Kevin Huerter.
I want to like Keegan Murray, but I don’t think he’ll pan out the way Kings fans hope he will. He’ll be a great shooter, but nothing more than a great 3&D guy like Robert Covington. He’s a little slow, doesn’t have any special sort of athleticism as a forward, and let’s be honest, Sacramento has a history of colossal draft mistakes. Prove me wrong Keegan! The Kings will make the Play-In and lose to LeBron and the Lakers.
- Portland Trail Blazers
This is a personal message to Damian Lillard: it is okay if you leave Portland. You aren’t “running from the grind.” Get out of there while you still can. The Trail Blazers have done nothing but hope Lillard carries this team into the postseason with a bunch of role players. It’s honestly frustrating, and I’m not even a Trail Blazers fan. I, along with the rest of the basketball community, just want to see Damian Lillard get what he deserves.
Portland did the bare minimum in acquiring a solid player in Jerami Grant, but other than that, Damian Lillard can’t do it by himself. Not anymore. I wouldn’t be surprised if Lillard leaves the team when his contract is up, or even request a trade.
- Utah Jazz
The Jazz are in the late lottery, but they shouldn’t panic at all. I really like what they’re doing in Utah. Trading Donovan Mitchell and Rudy Gobert was the smart move, and what they got for them is absolutely absurd. A haul of draft picks plus a ton of young players makes those trades win-wins for both sides. They’ll be fun to watch with an elite scorer in Collin Sexton being their primary ball handler.
Utah is likely to trade aging vets Bojan Bogdanovic and Mike Conley, along with Jordan Clarkson. It makes sense for them to start over. Although this team will be at the bottom of the league, I applaud the Jazz for making the right moves and having what I view to be a very solid offseason.
- San Antonio Spurs
San Antonio has truly had a fall from grace. For years they were at the top of the league, always expected to be a dark horse candidate to win the West. The Gregg Popovich Era is coming to end. Coach Pop is 73 years old, and I doubt he’ll want to continue to coach a rebuilding team. There’s nothing wrong with that because he’s one of, if not, the greatest coach of all time.
Rookie Jeremy Sochan will bring a lot of promise to the Spurs’ future, along with Keldon Johnson and Josh Primo. They have a lot of young lesser-known guys in Tre Jones, Romeo Langford, and Devin Vassell, so it’s natural they’ll be one of the worst teams in the league. I see them at the 13th spot with Coach Pop giving them a few extra wins. Surprisingly enough, this will be the first rebuild for many Spurs fans!
- Houston Rockets
Don’t let the standings fool you, I love this team. As bad as they’ll be, I think they’ll be one of the most interesting teams to watch. Jalen Green is already becoming a star, and Houston has so many young and talented assets. I’m not super high on Jabari Smith Jr., but I think he’ll be solid for the Rockets. I honestly can’t wait to see Houston give us a lineup of Green, Smith Jr., Josh Christopher, Alperen Sengun, and Kevin Porter Jr.
The Rockets will likely trade aging veteran Eric Gordon to a contender, which means they’ll get some sort of young asset or draft capital back. The future is bright in Houston, so be sure to keep an eye on this team for the next few years.
- Oklahoma City Thunder
Had Chet Holmgren been injured going into the season or not, I still would’ve had this team as the worst in the NBA, meaning they’re projected first in line to get Victor Wembanyama. It really is unfortunate that we’ll have to wait for Holmgren to play until next year because I think this is a fun team. Despite the record, I think Josh Giddey will take a major step as one of the league’s premier playmakers, and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander will continue to blossom.
Jaylin Williams and, no this is not a typo, Jalen Williams will be great additions at the forward spot, plus Lu Dort continues to prove to be one of the league’s best on-ball defenders. The Baby Thunder are going to develop eventually, and it’ll be fun to watch Holmgren and Wembanyama compete for Rookie of the Year if they’re both in OKC next year.
Hawks over Raptors
Bulls over Pistons
Bulls over Raptors (Bulls become 8 seed, Raptors get pushed back to 9)
Timberwolves over Grizzlies
Lakers over Kings
Lakers over Grizzlies (Lakers become 8 seed, Grizzlies get pushed back to 9)
Celtics (1) over Bulls (8) 4-1
Bucks (2) over Hawks (7) 4-1
76ers (3) over Heat (6) 4-3
Nets (5) over Cavs (4) 4-2
Clippers (1) over Lakers (8) 4-3
Warriors (2) over Timberwolves (7) 4-2
Suns (3) over Pelicans (6) 4-2
Nuggets (4) over Mavericks (5) 4-3
Celtics (1) over Nets (5) 4-2
Bucks (2) over 76ers (3) 4-1
Clippers (1) over Nuggets (4) 4-1
Warriors (2) over Suns (3) 4-1
Bucks (2) over Celtics (1) 4-3
Clippers (1) over Warriors (2) 4-2
Bucks over Clippers 4-3
MVP: Luka Doncic (Dallas Mavericks)
Rookie of the Year: Jaden Ivey (Detroit Pistons)
Most Improved Player: Tyrese Maxey (Philadelphia 76ers)
Defensive Player of the Year: Rudy Gobert (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Sixth Man of the Year: Devonte Graham (New Orleans Pelicans)
Coach of the Year: Ime Udoka (Boston Celtics)