NBA 2022-23 Thread

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I know our kangaroo punch addled, Foster's drinking friend is trolling with his Kings prediction, but in all seriousness I see them regressing and being the 6 or 7 seed.
Would only take a 3 to 4 win drop off, so not out of the question, and there's a handful of teams in the west who finished below them who you would think would make some slight improvements to their record.

Denver is the team if they're healthy, but much like the last month of last year - 2 through 12 in the west is going to be a logjam. Maaaaybe Phoenix breaks free from that group if they can stay healthy, but that's a big ass if.
Kings' clutch-time metrics were very strong last year; statistically that is very likely to regress, like forced turnovers in the NFL. But not guaranteed.
Opening night is 24 hours away and the previous thread is nearly at 1000, so it is time for a new thread for a new season.

And you know what that means, right? It's time for my annual questionnaire that only Headache(and sometimes Hewson) answers! I wrote a little more than usual this time...I don't know, I just started doing it and I guess it was a deceptively interesting offseason with a bunch of intriguing storylines. Here's my novel, friends.

(Apologies for not giving the thread a subtitle. I'm bad at it.)

1. After a first-round exit, the Atlanta Hawks front office did a lot of talking about making big changes, but didn't really follow through. They did add Dejounte Murray, who is a very nice two-way piece, but they lost Danilo Gallinari, and despite their names coming up many times in trade rumors, John Collins and Clint Capela are still there. So, will the Trae/Collins/Capela/Hunter core, with Murray added, and Bogdanovic leading the bench, fare any better than last season? Will they be able to regain their 2020-21 form?

2. After an uninspiring start to the 2021-22 season, the Boston Celtics went on one of the great second-half tears in recent history, going 17-5 in the last 22 games of the regular season before dispatching the Durant-led Nets, the defending champion Bucks(albeit minus Khris Middleton), and the Jimmy Butler-led Heat to earn their first Finals berth since 2010, where they fell to the Warriors in six. The additions of Malcolm Brogdon, Danilo Gallinari, and Blake Griffin over the summer would seem to have made them even stronger, but they start the season having lost coach Ime Udoka for the season and with Robert Williams on the IR. Was last season a fluke, or will the Celtics be a threat to come out of the East again? How much does the loss of Udoka hurt them?

3. The Brooklyn Nets had an offseason of turmoil characterized by the failed trade requests of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. With both of them still on the roster, and Ben Simmons finally ready to play, will the Nets be able to put the offseason behind them and emerge as one of the East's elite? Or are they more likely to implode early, re-opening the Durant/Kyrie trade question at the deadline? Will they still be on the roster at season's end? Will Nash still be the coach? Will the loss of big-man depth in Drummond/Griffin/LMA hurt them? This might be the biggest boom or bust storyline in the NBA this season.

4. The Chicago Bulls surprised a lot of people with how they looked in the first half of last season after the acquisitions of DeMar DeRozan and Lonzo Ball, but they collapsed pretty badly in the second half, and with Lonzo STILL out for an uncertain amount of time, the East having improved over the summer, and the Bulls not having done much other than make their draft pick and add Drummond and Dragic on minimum contracts, Bulls fans are not overly hopeful for this season. Will the Bulls surpass expectations, or is a lower playoff seed their ceiling?

5. The Cleveland Cavaliers were perhaps the surprise of the 2021-22 season, and now they've added a star guard in Donovan Mitchell to their young core. With a starting lineup of Allen/Mobley/LaVert/Mitchell/Garland and Love, Rubio, and newly added Robin Lopez off the bench, are the Cavs all of a sudden a threat to come of out the East? Or are expectations already too high for them?

6. Luka Doncic nearly single-handedly got the Mavs to the Western Conference Finals last season and even managed to take one win off the Warriors, but it was clear that the team needed to put some more pieces around him. The Mavs acquired big man Christian Wood over the summer; Wood has been a 20/10 type guy on a terrible Rockets team the last two seasons, but has been accused of both being an empty stats player and of being a headcase. Will Wood be the legit #2 option Doncic needs, that Porzingis failed to be, to take the Mavs to the next level? Will the Mavs build on their success this season, or will it just be one step closer to Doncic wanting out?

7. Nikola Jokic is coming off his second straight MVP, but he was a one-man show last season as the Denver Nuggets were decimated by injuries. With Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. back and ready to go to start the season, and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope acquired in trade for Will Barton, are the Nuggets going to be a serious factor in the West this season?

8. After two years of struggles, the Golden State Warriors are the reigning champs again, having gotten back to the top with a new supporting cast including Andrew Wiggins, Jordan Poole, and co. around Steph/Klay/Draymond. Are they in a good position to make another run? Will a healthy James Wiseman finally prove his worth to the team? And will the Draymond/Poole altercation have any lasting effects on their season/chemistry?

9. The 2021-22 season was largely a lost year for the Los Angeles Clippers, but they are looking to bounce back this season. With Kawhi recovered from his ACL tear and ready to play for the first time since Spring 2021, last season's trade acquisitions of Robert Covington and Norman Powell to bolster their depth, and the offseason signing of John Wall - who himself is looking to resuscitate his career after not playing for the Rockets by choice last season - to be the starting PG, are the Clippers going to be a threat to make a run for it this season, or are their best chances behind them already?

10. Going into this season, the Los Angeles Lakers still have not solved their Russell Westbrook problem(and are currently, reportedly, still trying to trade him), they lost Malik Monk(who was one of the bright spots of last season for them), and their only offseason additions were Patrick Beverly and Dennis Schroder, one of whom came at the expense of finally giving up on Talen Horton-Tucker. Ok, and I guess you can count Kendrick Nunn as an addition since he didn't play last season. And at the helm of this problematic roster will be rookie head coach Darvin Ham in the wake of Frank Vogel's release. Even if LeBron and AD can stay healthy, it's not looking great for the Lakeshow. Will the Lakers overcome all of this and emerge as a contender again, or is this going to be a repeat of 2021-22? Is there a realistic Westbrook deal that could significantly alter the trajectory of their season? Will Ham do any better with this team than Vogel did?

11. The Memphis Grizzlies were another surprise last season, as their young core of Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr., Dillon Brooks, Desmond Mane, Tyus Jones, Brandon Clarke, etc, along with veteran defensive anchor Steven Adams, won 56 games and finished as the second seed in the West, managing to take two games off the eventual champion Warriors in the second round(one of them even without an injured Morant). After an offseason that saw them lose Kyle Anderson and swap DeAnthony Melton for veteran two-way wing Danny Green, will the Grizzlies continue where they left off last season? Are they for real or was 2021-22 a fluke?

12. The Miami Heat came within one Jimmy Butler three-pointer from making the Finals for the second time in three years, but it wasn't to be. In the aftermath of that loss, there was a fair amount of talk about Butler not having enough help on that team, and the Heat were one of the big names mentioned in both the Durant and Mitchell chases, but in the end the only real additions the Heat made were Caleb Martin and their draft pick Nikola Jovic, and they lost P.J. Tucker in the process. Will the Heat's underwhelming offseason in the midst of an improving Eastern Conference lead to a step backward in 2022-23, or will they still be in the upper echelons of the East and a threat to come out of the conference?

13. The (at the time) defending champion Milwaukee Bucks fell in seven games to the Celtics in the second round in the aftermath of a first-round injury that knocked Khris Middleton out for the playoffs, and many have claimed the Bucks would've at least won that series if Middleton had been playing. With the team running it back - with Middleton projected to return in a few weeks, the additions of vets Serge Ibaka and Joe Ingles over the summer, and no significant losses other than Donte DiVincenzo - is there any reason to think they won't be among the league's best teams again, and one of the most likely title contenders?

14. The Minnesota Timberwolves made perhaps the most eye-popping, head-turning trade of the offseason when they traded five players, four future first-round picks extending out to 2029(two of them unprotected), and a first-round swap option in 2026, to Utah for Rudy Gobert. Given how much money Gobert is set to make, his age, and what the Wolves gave up, there was immediate skepticism if not outright criticism of the deal for Minnesota. Is the Gobert/KAT/Edwards experiment going to work? Will they be a contender or anything close? Or is this trade going to look like a disaster sooner rather than later?

15. The New Orleans Pelicans could be an interesting team to watch in the West this year. They won 36 games in 2021-22 and earned an eighth seed playoff berth via the play-in without Zion, who missed the whole season with a foot injury. Will Zion be able to stay healthy and take the next step in cementing his place as a star in this league? With Zion healthy, McCollum extended and ready to start his first full season with the team, Ingram still around, and the likes of Devonte Graham, Jonas Valanciunas, Larry Nance, Garret Temple, and Herbert Jones supporting them, will the Pelicans be able to improve on their performance last season and take the next step?

16. The New York Knicks had two major targets this summer; they succeeded in signing Jalen Brunson, but failed to close the deal for Donovan Mitchell. They enter this season adding Brunson and big man Isaiah Hartenstein to the existing group of Julius Randle, R.J. Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, Derrick Rose, Evan Fournier, Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin, Cam Reddish, and Quentin Grimes. In addition to competing in a stacked Eastern Conference, they have the additional obstacle of half their players knowing 100% the front office wanted to move them for Mitchell. Will this light a fire under those players, or will it cause them to sulk/regress/underperform? Will Brunson be enough to help the Knicks improve this season, or will it be yet another year of mediocrity for the franchise?

17. Last season didn't go as well as hoped post-deadline for the Philadelphia 76ers, but they enter this season with James Harden having lost some of that excess weight he'd gained, and having taken a paycut to facilitate the additions of P.J. Tucker and Danuel House. They also used their MLE on Montrezl Harrell and swapped aging veteran Danny Green for De'Anthony Melton. With Harden in better shape and ready for his first full season in Philly, and Tucker/House/Harrell/Melton joining him, Embiid, Harris, Maxey, Thybulle, and the rest, will this be the year Embiid and the Sixers finally get past the second round? Do they have enough to be a threat to win it all?

18. It's been a tough last six months for the Phoenix Suns. The #1 seed 64-win team and then-reigning Western Conference champion suffered a stunning playoff collapse, losing the last two games of their second round series to the Mavs by 26 points and 33 points, respectively, after having led the series 3-2. The offseason saw some acrimony between DeAndre Ayton and the team after it took him signing a max offer sheet with the Pacers to get the money he wanted. And then to top it off, the Sarver stuff happened, which has resulted in the team now being in ownership-limbo. As if that wasn't enough, Jae Crowder apparently wants out, and you have to wonder if Mikal Bridges will be at all affected mentally by what's going on with his brother. So, can the Suns - who went to the Finals in 2021 and won 64 games last season - overcome the mental scars of their playoff collapse, the distraction of the ownership issue, and the advancing age of Chris Paul and still be among the league's elite? Or are their best chances behind them?

19. Portland had a down year last season with Dame missing most of it, but this season he returns to a team that acquired Josh Hart, Justise Winslow, and Keon Johnson in trade while he was away, added Jerami Grant and Gary Payton II over the summer as well as #7 pick Shaeden Sharp, and that has seen the emergence of Anfernee Simons over the last year. It's a very different team than it used to be, with Nurkic and Nassir Little behind the only holdovers next to Dame. Will this new-look Blazers team be able to earn a lower playoff seed at least, or will the competition be too stiff?

20. The Toronto Raptors won 48 games before being eliminated in the first round as a fifth seed last season, and they really didn't do much in the offseason. They're the same team from last season in what figures to be an even tougher Eastern Conference than last season. Will they still be able to compete in the East, or might they take a step backwards?

21. The Washington Wizards enter the season with Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis both healthy for the first time, and having acquired Will Barton and Monte Morris in trade over the summer in addition to signing Delon Wright and Taj Gibson and drafting Johnny Davis #10 overall. With their health and these new pieces joining a returning cast of Kyle Kuzma, Rui Hachimura, Deni Avdija, Corey Kispert, and Daniel Gafford, will the Wizards earn the playoff berth that eluded them last year? Do they have a bright future or are they more likely to be a treadmill team?

22. The teams I haven't mentioned so far are the ones projected to be among the league's worst this season. Some teams seem to be in a less hopeful place than others: Charlotte will deal with the big loss of Miles Bridges for some or all of the season; Houston has gotten even younger after trading Christian Wood away; OKC has been dealt the blow of #2 pick Chet Holmgren being out for the year; Utah is just entering a new rebuilding phase after trading away Gobert and Mitchell; and the Spurs have gotten worse after trading Dejounte Murray away.

Meanwhile, other teams have somewhat brighter outlooks: Detroit has added #5 pick Jaden Ivey and #13 pick Jalen Duren, along with the veteran acquisitions of Kemba Walker and Bojan Bogdanovic(while losing Jerami Grant) to a roster led by last year's top pick Cade Cunningham; Indiana still has Myles Turner, Buddy Hield, Tyrese Haliburton, and #6 pick Bennedict Mathurin; Orlando has added #1 overall pick Paolo Banchero, and will at some point add a returning Jonathan Isaac, to their intriguing core of Carter/Suggs/Wagner/Cole Anthony/Bamba; Sacramento will have its first full year of its Sabonis/Fox tandem with Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk added to the mix.

Will any of these teams exceed expectations and be a surprise like last season's Cavs? Will any of them make the playoffs or even the play-in?

23. Carmelo Anthony and LaMarcus Aldridge are, as of yet, unsigned. Are they done, or will they go ring-chasing later in the season?

24. Finally, as I ask every year - which draftees do you expect to have the best rookie years?

namkcuR, please confirm asap if the Lillard trade will deliver Giannis his 2nd Title. Thank you!
this is probably the most hype that a salt lake city vs sacramento event has ever received.

There were a couple good playoff series in the late Stockton/Malone early Chris Webber era, but yes other than those…extreme hype for tomorrow night (at least on Interference)
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