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news, analysis, season preview, every team analysed, Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers

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The NBA is back.

And boy, how we have missed it.

The league’s best teams have reloaded, the league’s worst have cleared the shelves just for a shot at a 7’5 freak, and there’s drama wherever you look.

Here’s every NBA team analysed ahead of the 2022-23 season!

ATLANTA HAWKS

In many ways, it was the Atlanta Hawks who kicked off the off-season chaos after sending three first-round picks to San Antonio in exchange for Dejounte Murray.

After a season in which Trae Young and the Hawks were unable to repeat the heights of the 2020-21 campaign, it was clear change was needed.

And Murray represents change. He also represents a new backcourt partner for Young; one that can help cover for the franchise star’s defensive frailties, while also allowing one of the NBA’s best three-point shooters to play off-ball a little more often.

Atlanta has often been criticised for its relatively one-dimensional offence. A similar criticism has been made of Young, who, to this point, has run that abovementioned offence.

If Young can accept a hybrid role that looks a little more like what Steph Curry does in Golden State, then there’s no reason for this Hawks team to not win a bunch of games in the regular season.

Keep an eye out for AJ Griffin, who was drafted with the 16th pick of the draft. The Duke product shot the three at a 45-percent clip in college, and went 7-for-11 from deep in the pre-season.

There’s a new duo in Atlanta.Source: AFP

BOSTON CELTICS

While they’re certainly not the only contender to go through a tumultuous off-season, the Celtics are the only one that’ll be without their head coach.

We all know what happened to Ime Udoka. What we don’t know is what it will mean for a team that was teetering on the edge last season, before their head coach turned it around and guided them to an NBA Finals berth.

In terms of the roster, there’s a case to be made that Boston will be better this season.

The addition of Malcolm Brogdon will obviously help with the Celtics’ point guard troubles, while the core group that got the team to the big dance is still there.

If you’re looking for reasons to worry — outside of the whole Udoka situation — you’d look at Robert Williams, who won’t be on the court for a while, and what comes out of the Jaylen Brown situation.

Brown was reportedly in Kevin Durant trade talks this off-season, and is expected to hit free agency in 2024. The 25-year-old was arguably Boston’s best in the post-season, so any fraying of the relationship between player and organisation could be something to watch.

CHARLOTTE HORNETS

LaMelo Ball is just about the only reason for Charlotte fans to smile nowadays. And even he’s injured as the Hornets head into a season with very little expected of them.

Miles Bridges was scheduled to collect his bag of money this off-season, and return to Charlotte, but instead faces the prospect of prison after being arrested and charged with three felony charges for alleged domestic violence.

Bridges has pleaded not guilty, but it’s hard to imagine he’ll be back on the court this season. Or ever again.

With a 7’5 Victor Wembanyama currently squished in the pot at the end of the tank rainbow, there’s a reality where this Charlotte season starts poorly, and rides that rainbow road to the best lottery odds possible.

#1 prospect shows off skills at 7’4! | 00:49

CHICAGO BULLS

In an Eastern Conference that might finally be stronger than the West, Chicago looks a little stuck in the mud.

In terms of talent, the Bulls aren’t quite there. And that’s before you consider Lonzo Ball is out, and has made some truly concerning comments about the condition of his knee.

DeMar DeRozan was a man possessed last season, and the Bulls were a really good regular season team when everyone was fit, but the conference has only gotten stronger, and no Ball means a lot of pressure falls on second-year guard Ayo Dosunmu, who is expected to start at point guard.

Alex Caruso missed a significant amount of time last season, and will help on both ends of the floor, but this year could be a struggle for the Bulls.

CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

I think we all did a bit of a double take when that ‘Woj Bomb’ first hit our phones: Donovan Mitchell to the Cavaliers.

First thought? Oh, Knicks.

Second, what exactly is Cleveland’s ceiling?

And after an entire off-season and pre-season, it’s clear that question won’t get an answer until we see it in action.

On paper, the move makes a whole lot of sense. The Cavs were impressive last season, before injuries cruelled momentum, and their lack of an out-and-out scorer meant they crashed out at the play-in stage.

While Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen made for a daunting regular season trio, it was clear they needed a guy who could just go and get his own shot when things got tight. Mitchell is exactly that. And the hefty draft price Cleveland paid is proof the organisation believes he’s the perfect piece to partner with Garland in the backcourt.

Without needing to carry the burden of the entire offence, like he did in Utah, Cleveland will be hoping for a more efficient version of Mitchell, who we know can keep up with the league’s best scorers.

Still, even with Mitchell, you feel Cleveland’s ceiling will be decided by just how much Mobley improves in Year 2.

New colours.Source: AFP

DETROIT PISTONS

Fun, but bad.

That’s probably all we can expect out of Detroit this season.

Cade Cunningham finished last season with a maturity beyond his years, and will need to play mentor in his sophomore campaign now after the Pistons added Jaden Ivey to their backcourt ranks.

Cunningham and Ivey is a one-two punch that could carry Detroit for the next 10 years, while Jalen Duren is an exciting alternative to the Deandre Ayton deal that was floated in the off-season.

Saddiq Bey, Isaiah Stewart and Bojan Bogdanovic are all winning pieces, but in an Eastern Conference this competitive, don’t expect the Pistons to sniff post-season basketball.

INDIANA PACERS

The race to the bottom will be on from the moment basketball starts, and many expect Indiana to be one of the leading contenders for the worst record in the NBA.

Indiana’s in the middle of a rebuild, and Wembanyama would make said rebuild an instant success.

Guys like Buddy Hield and Myles Turner are almost certainly going to end up somewhere else before the season’s end, while the Pacers move forward with Tyrese Haliburton, Chris Duarte and rookie Bennedict Mathurin.

MIAMI HEAT

With the exception of PJ Tucker’s departure, not a whole lot has changed in Miami after a season that finished with heartbreak in the Eastern Conference Finals.

It’s easy to forget that Jimmy Butler three-point miss, and what it would have meant if the Heat had booked a spot in their second NBA Finals in the space of three seasons.

Instead, Miami is once again a relative afterthought when discussing the East’s best, often passed over for the likes of Milwaukee, Philadelphia, or Boston.

The reality is that Erik Spoelstra is just a damn good coach, Jimmy Butler has proven he’s an elite post-season player, and Bam Adebayo and the newly-extended Tyler Herro should only be improving.

In truth, the only question mark is Kyle Lowry, and what he is. Now 36 years old, there’s no ignoring the point guard’s decline.

But does he have one more solid season in him?

MILWAUKEE BUCKS

There’s a very real argument to be made that Milwaukee would have won the title last year if they had a healthy Khris Middleton.

Of course, there are many, more interesting what ifs in NBA history, so it’s not worth wasting too much time on that hypothetical.

But it is true that a Middleton-less Milwaukee pushed Boston all the way with Giannis Antetokounmpo doing more than any one person should ever be asked to do.

Milwaukee will essentially run it back this season, with the only addition to note being Joe Ingles, who is still recovering from a torn ACL suffered in September.

If Antetokounmpo, Middleton, and Jrue Holiday can stay fit, the Bucks have as good a chance as any team of winning the Larry O’Brien trophy.

BROOKLYN NETS

For the third season on the trot this line rings true: the Brooklyn Nets are talented enough to win an NBA title.

In 2021, that equalled a second round playoff exit. Last year? A first round sweep at the hands of Boston.

This time around, the season’s cast is beginning with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons in the starring roles.

How they go, and whether they’re all still there at season’s end is anyone’s guess.

Simmons showed flashes in the pre-season of reclaiming the form that earned him three All-Star nods and being the perfect third star to Durant and Irving, who have pocketed their trade requests for now.

If all goes right — and my god, that’s a big if — then Brooklyn will have the talent edge over just about every team in the NBA.

Bad Ben fouls out in 13 mins | 00:37

NEW YORK KNICKS

There’s no Donovan Mitchell in New York, but Jalen Brunson represents a minor recruitment win for the Knicks, who’ve been rejected more often than a clipboard-wielding teenager trying to stop people on the sidewalk.

While Brunson is not the superstar Knicks fans probably had in mind, he is the first above average point guard they’ve had in a very long time. And that should make a big difference, immediately.

Brunson showed what he can do in the post-season; the 26-year-old comfortably Dallas’ second-best player as they made their way to the Western Conference Finals. On a four-year, $104 million deal, Brunson should at very least help New York find some offensive rhythm, and hopefully unlock the likes of RJ Barrett and Julius Randle.

Randle will be one to watch, though. He clashed with fans all through last season, with Obi Toppin looming large as a younger, more popular option at the power forward spot.

ORLANDO MAGIC

It might finally be safe to be excited about what Orlando is building.

For years it felt like the Magic were throwing darts blindly at the draftboard, just hoping one of their long, athletic picks turned into something special.

But things have changed over the last couple seasons, and with the selection of Paolo Banchero, the rebuild might finally have an identity.

No.1 pick Banchero looked every bit the Rookie of the Year favourite in Summer League and pre-season, while Franz Wagner’s sophomore season could surprise a few who don’t know just how good the German actually is.

Wendell Carter Jr.’s development makes Chicago’s trade look worse by the week, while Markelle Fultz should continue to prove he was worth the swing Orlando took on him.

The jury’s still out on Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony, but if Banchero and Wagner are as good as we think, that might not matter.

Paolo Banchero.Source: Getty Images

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

Joel Embiid is Joel Embiid, James Harden looks like he’s lost some weight ahead of a revenge campaign, Tyrese Maxey is shaping as a legitimate third star, and the Philadelphia 76ers got better this off-season.

All of that means Philadelphia should win a whole lot of games this year.

With a full pre-season under his belt, and no Brooklyn-esque drama, Harden is expected to look a little more like the guy we knew in Houston. And he and Embiid will get more help this time around, with general manager Daryl Morey adding De’Anthony Melton, PJ Tucker, Danuel House Jr., and Montrezl Harrell in a frenzy of moves that suddenly makes the Sixers one of the deepest teams in the NBA.

There’s still no reason to trust Philadelphia come the post-season. But this team, with Maxey a hot favourite to win Most Improved Player, should be a regular season winning machine.

How far can the Sixers go?Source: Getty Images

TORONTO RAPTORS

It’s easy to forget Toronto won 48 games last season and finished in the fifth seed. Then you consider another year of development for their young care, plus the addition of veteran Otto Porter Jr., and this Raptors team suddenly shapes as the dark horse of the East.

They likely won’t make headlines this season, but Toronto is stacked with talent, and Nick Nurse continues to be one of the best coaches in the NBA.

Their success will likely hinge on what sort of leap Scottie Barnes makes in his sophomore season, and if Pascal Siakam can establish himself as a legitimate No.1 option on a contending team. 

WASHINGTON WIZARDS

It’s not immediately clear what Washington is trying to do.

Bradley Beal is making more money than he knows what to do with, and Kristaps Porzingis is still doing unicorn things every now and then, but this Wizards team isn’t good. The problem is they might be just good enough to rule themselves out of the Wembanyama sweepstakes.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

DALLAS MAVERICKS

Luka Doncic means that no matter what the rest of the roster looks like, Dallas will probably always be a playoff team as long as he’s on the court.

All that being said, Jalen Brunson’s departure will be felt, and nothing the Mavericks have done this off-season looks likely to offset it.

If you’re looking for positives, Christian Wood is a legitimately interesting offensive piece to come off the bench, Facu Campazzo will help take the playmaking load off Doncic, and Tim Hardaway Jr.’s return is massive.

Still, with the West — and East — looking scary, it’s hard to see Dallas mounting a real charge for the title.

DENVER NUGGETS

The Denver Nuggets, only healthy.

Jamal Murray is back. Michael Porter Jr. too. And all of a sudden, Denver must be taken seriously when discussing who can realistically win a title this year.

Last season, Nikola Jokic carried a band of misfits to the playoffs, before eventually running out of help against the Warriors. This time around, he’s got his No.2 and No.3 options, plus two big off-season additions in Bruce Brown and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

Add to that Bones Hyland, who established himself as a guy who can make his own offence, and the Nuggets have a Sixth Man of the Year contender who can help this team win a bunch of games if they stay healthy.

GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS

With the pretty giant exception of Draymond Green losing his mind and punching a teammate, this off-season has gone about as well as Golden State could have hoped.

Weird sentence.

Jordan Poole, recipient of the Green right hand, was also the recipient of a four-year, $140 million contract extension. Meanwhile, Andrew Wiggins was also extended as the Warriors made sure to lock down two key pieces of the team that won a title last season.

Talent-wise, the Warriors should probably be considered favourites to go back-to-back. But it’s never that easy, especially when you consider what Green has done, and what he could do with the question of his contract extension looming large.

Still, if you consider adding James Wiseman, the second overall pick in the 2020 draft, to a team that already includes Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Green, Poole, Wiggins, Donte DiVincenzo, JaMychal Green, Jonathan Kuminga, and Moses Moody, then you start to understand just how scary Golden State could be.

The departures of Otto Porter Jr. and Gary Payton II will be felt. But if Wiseman can stay healthy and both Kuminga and Moody can take second-year leaps, the Warriors should be even better.

Grumpy Green punches Poole | 00:40

HOUSTON ROCKETS

No team in NBA history has finished with the worst record three seasons in a row.

And while the lure of Wembenyama is real, you’d have to imagine Houston will be looking to play some version of winning basketball this year.

Last season’s 20-62 record earned them the third overall pick, with which they selected Jabari Smith Jr., who will team up with 2021 second overall pick Jalen Green, and a host of other young talent.

With Green, Smith Jr., Tari Eason, Alperen Sengun, and Kevin Porter Jr., this season will be about development, but should feature at least some desire to win basketball games.

In Smith Jr. and Eason, the Rockets have genuine defensive wing talent, and the No.3 pick could establish himself as one of the most exciting two-way players in the game.

LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS

Kawhi Leonard is back, Paul George is ready to the Robin role, and the Los Angeles Clippers are once again healthy and ready to contend. How long that will last is anyone’s guess.

There may be no deeper team in the NBA than the Clippers, who can go twelve or thirteen deep during the regular season. Still, too much is being made of the acquisition of John Wall, who will be nothing more than a bit-part player off the bench.

The real question revolves around what version of Leonard we get, and how long that version can stay on the court. The 31-year-old didn’t play a game last season, and hasn’t hit 60 regular season games since the 2018-19 season.

LOS ANGELES LAKERS

The sooner Russell Westbrook is off the Lakers, the sooner they can move on, and try compete with whatever they get back for the guard’s expiring contract, which is his only trade value at this point in his career.

One can make an argument that a healthy Anthony Davis and LeBron James can crack into the ultra-competitive West playoff picture. But that’s only with a bit more help. And that help can only come in a trade, with Buddy Hield and Myles Turner the two names floated in a potential deal with the Indiana Pacers before the season started.

Still, it’s hard to come up with any realistic move that makes this Lakers team a contender after the amount of roster mistakes they’ve made over the last couple years, headlined of course by the Westbrook trade.

Lonnie Walker IV was an underwhelming addition, and one that raised eyebrows given who he’s represented by. Meanwhile, Patrick Beverley and Dennis Schroder promise more drama than production.

What’s coming in Los Angeles?Source: Getty Images

MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES

Ja Morant’s Memphis exploded onto the scene last season with 56 wins, making their case as the most exciting young team in the NBA.

Going into 2022, the Grizzlies are essentially running it back, with a couple of exceptions. De’Anthony Melton and Kyle Anderson are gone. And while they weren’t headline pieces, they will be missed. On top of that, Jaren Jackson Jr. is expected to miss some time to start the season with injury.

But Morant has looked typically bouncy in pre-season, and Memphis will be hoping to get more out of Ziaire Williams, and 2021 first-round pick Santi Aldama, who is expected to start in Jackson Jr.’s absence.

Golden State was pushed more by Memphis than any other post-season opponent on their way to a title. That shouldn’t be forgotten.

MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES

Four future first-round picks, and the draft rights to 2022 first-rounder Walker Kessler.

That was what Minnesota gave up to land Rudy Gobert in a trade the NBA world is still trying to comprehend.

It was a win-now move for a player who doesn’t immediately make sense on a roster that includes another big man already making $34 million for the season ahead.

But Karl-Anthony Towns isn’t an ordinary five. At least not on the offensive end. The 26-year-old shot 41 percent from deep last season, and is probably the only centre who can accommodate Gobert on offence.

Still, the twin towers experiment is a risk.

Anthony Edwards and Towns fell in six games to Memphis in the first round of the playoffs last year, with the former establishing himself as a genuine star in the making.

In Gobert, the Timberwolves have shored up their defence, and might have created a team that’ll be incredibly hard to beat in the regular season. But it’s the playoffs where Gobert will have to answer the questions he’s never been able to.

NEW ORLEANS PELICANS

The New Orleans Pelicans added CJ McCollum, and then gave the Phoenix Suns the fright of their lives in the first round of the playoffs last season.

Now, they get to add Zion Williamson back into the mix, and quite simply, there’s no real ceiling to what they could be. Since entering the league, Williamson has proven to be an unstoppable force when on the court. Healthy again, and appearing to have cut some weight, the 22-year-old, who has averaged 25.7 points and seven rebounds to start his career, could turn this Pelicans team into a contender if he takes another leap.

McCollum, Williamson, and Brandon Ingram should make for a potent three-headed monster on offence, while the defence of Herbert Jones and Australian rookie Dyson Daniels should create a genuinely well-rounded roster to compete in a stacked conference.

Dyson Daniels dazzles in Pre-Season | 00:38

OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER

Any chances of a competitive Oklahoma City year went out the window when Chet Holmgren suffered a Lisfranc injury in the off-season. Then, Wembanyama put any doubt to bed over how he’ll translate to the NBA. And now, it’s hard to imagine Sam Presti isn’t plotting a route to most prized draft asset since LeBron James.

Josh Giddey, Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and co. will continue to develop. But you’d have to imagine, with Presti calling the shots, that this Thunder team will give themselves a chance when the lottery comes around.

Giddey UP! Josh throws down huge poster | 00:35

PHOENIX SUNS

You know that meme of the dog, with the mug of coffee, surrounded by a burning fire?

That’s Phoenix, right now.

Suns owner Robert Sarver has been forced to sell the team after a series of despicable allegations against him.

Deandre Ayton was brought back to Phoenix after a messy end to last season, and then told reporters he hadn’t spoken to head coach Monty Williams since that Game 7 defeat to Dallas.

Oh, and Jae Crowder has requested a trade away.

Now, this 64-win team from last season looks more likely to capitulate than challenge again.

If we want to pretend like none of the above will matter, the argument for another Suns charge is pretty simple: not much, on court, has changed.

Cam Johnson will step into the starting five (part of Crowder’s problem), and everything else will stay the same, just with Chris Paul a year older.

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS

Here we go again, I guess.

There’s nothing necessarily wrong with what Portland has done, as long as it’s not wrapped up again and presented as a legitimate attempt at an NBA title.

Damian Lillard’s loyalty should be commended after years of playoff pain. But — and forgive me for this — should it be asked whether keeping the 32-year-old is in the best interests of the franchise?

For years we watched Portland’s two best players — Lillard and CJ McCollum — try their best, and come up short as the reality of relying on guards in the post-season proved too difficult to overcome It finally spelled the end for McCollum, who was traded to New Orleans last season.

Who is the second option for Portland now? Anfernee Simons, another guard, who shone in Lillard’s absence last season.

Sure, Jerami Grant helps in some ways, adding some two-way talent to a roster that badly needs it. But Lillard is no guarantee to reach the heights of the past, and the West is so stacked that a play-in spot might be the best this team can hope for.

SACRAMENTO KINGS

The Sacramento Kings have been the joke of the NBA for too long. And those jokes continued on draft night when the Kings selected Keegan Murray with the fourth overall pick, instead of Jaden Ivey who was still on the board.

But with Murray winning Summer League MVP and impressing in pre-season, it’s possible that criticism was unfair, nothing more than a bad habit we have developed because of past indiscretions.

Sacramento actually shape to be a sneaky competitive team — not in the title sense of the word — with De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis the headline acts on a team that will lean on Murray, Davion Mitchell, and Harrison Barnes (until someone trades for him).

SAN ANTONIO SPURS

With the Dejounte Murray trade, San Antonio committed to the tank.

At the time, it came as a surprise. Then we saw Wembanyama do his thing, and it all made sense.

There’s not a lot to watch out for in San Antonio this season, other than the loss column.

UTAH JAZZ

Danny Ainge is blowing it all up.

First it was Rudy Gobert. Then it was Donovan Mitchell. After that, it was Bojan Bogdanovic. Don’t be surprised if Mike Conley and Jordan Clarkson are gone at some point this season too.

The Jazz are embracing the suck. For the same reason as all the other tanking teams: that 7’5 teenager.

https://www.foxsports.com.au/basketball/nba/nba-2022-news-analysis-season-preview-every-team-analysed-golden-state-warriors-los-angeles-lakers/news-story/fa1c8732ef267ad08bee30e20a8f04fa

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