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Michaela Brant / Gavel Media

NBA Season Preview and Predictions: 2022-2023

After a crazy offseason that saw several All-Stars switch teams, a standoff between Kevin Durant and the Nets that ended with Kevin Durant still a Nets player, and a lot of European basketball, the new NBA season is almost here. Here are some ranking predictions for the regular season in each conference:

Western Conference

1. Phoenix Suns

Despite coming off of a disappointing playoff run, the Suns are going to come back hungry for another shot at a championship. They are also returning almost everyone from last season, so they should pick where they left off in the regular season despite trouble with Deandre Ayton this offseason. 

2. Denver Nuggets

If the Nuggets stay healthy, there are fewer teams that have more talent than them. Nikola Jokić has proven he can win without help, but if Michael Porter Jr. and Jamal Murray return to their previous play, the Nuggets are going to be extremely good. 

3. Golden State Warriors

Draymond Green’s altercation with Jordan Poole has raised a lot of questions about the Warriors this season. However, they have the culture and leadership to get past it and have another successful season. 

4. Los Angeles Clippers

The Clippers do not care about the regular season at all. Kawhi Leonard and Paul George both struggle to play more than 60 games every year. They will be fun to watch when they are playing, but that might be hard to find until April. 

5. Minnesota Timberwolves

After trading for Rudy Gobert, the Timberwolves are putting all of their chips on the table. However, they do not have the talent and experience to keep up with some of the better teams in the West. 

6. Memphis Grizzlies

Despite having a potential MVP candidate in Ja Morant, Jaren Jackson Jr. will miss significant time to start the season. If they cannot tread water defensively without him, it is going to be a slow start for the Grizzlies.

7. New Orleans Pelicans

Thanks to a surprising playoff run last season without Zion Williamson, the Pelicans have a lot of hype coming into the season now that Zion has lost weight and is healthy. If he stays healthy, the Pelicans will be a tough team to beat. 

8. Dallas Mavericks

Despite having Luka Dončić, the Mavericks do not have a ton of talent. Unless he can average 35 points a game, the Mavericks will struggle to find wins against some of the top teams. 

9. Los Angeles Lakers

Until Russell Westbrook is traded or comes off the bench full-time, this team cannot be trusted to win games, especially with 37-year-old LeBron James and Anthony Davis, whose knees are made of glass. 

10. Sacramento Kings

The Kings are going to be a fun team to watch this year with De’Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis leading the charge. However, fun does not always equal good. 

11. Portland Trail Blazers

Damian Lillard is still one of the best players in basketball, but there is very little talent around him. He cannot carry this team to the playoffs alone in his 11th season. 

12. Houston Rockets

The Rockets have a very young team, but they are several years away from being true playoff contenders. For now, however, they are moving in the right direction. 

13. Oklahoma City Thunder

After Chet Holmgren got injured for the season, the playoff chances of the Thunder went from 0.1% to absolutely zero. Hardly expect anything great from them once again. 

14. Utah Jazz

The Jazz traded Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell, a clear sign that they want Victor Wembanyama in next year’s draft. They will try to lose every single game to get him.

15. San Antonio Spurs

If your coach says that no one should bet on your team to win the championship, you listen to him. 

Eastern Conference

1. Milwaukee Bucks

With a healthy Khris Middleton and Brook Lopez, the Bucks are coming into this season with something to prove. Giannis Antetokounmpo will be hungrier than ever to avoid another letdown season. 

2. Boston Celtics

Ime Udoka has caused a lot of controversies to distract people from the Celtics. Even without him, the team is incredibly talented, and Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will be motivated to avenge their Finals loss.

3. Miami Heat

With Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo, they have enough talent to compete with anyone. However, Jimmy cares more about the playoffs, so they will likely not get the first seed. 

4. Philadelphia 76ers

Philadelphia has been constantly disappointing with Joel Embiid. However, James Harden is coming in in shape, ready to make a run at the title. 

5. Brooklyn Nets

If Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons are the leaders of your team, they cannot be trusted on a nightly basis. However, they have the talent to win a championship. 

6. Cleveland Cavaliers

Now that Donovan Mitchell has joined the Cavaliers, they have enough talent to compete with everyone. However, they are likely a few years away from really competing because Darius Garland and Evan Mobley still have room to grow. 

7. Toronto Raptors

The Raptors are running it back. After missing out on Kevin Durant, they decided to stick with their core, which is not bad. However, they do not have the top-end talent necessary to be a top seed in the East.

8. Atlanta Hawks

After trading for Dejounte Murray, the Hawks feel like they have a good chance to improve. The rest of the East is far too good for them to have a legit shot at a championship.

9. Chicago Bulls

The Bulls did little to improve this offseason, and Lonzo Ball will miss significant time. Their expectations are lower than last year unless DeMar DeRozan and Zach Lavine play like MVPs. 

10. New York Knicks

Signing Jalen Brunson does improve the Knicks. However, the improvement is not significant enough for the Knicks to finish higher than they did last season.

11. Washington Wizards

The Wizards did not make any significant additions to their roster. They resigned Bradley Beal, but he is surrounded by mediocre talent, and he has not shown the ability to carry a team. 

12. Charlotte Hornets

Without Miles Bridges, who may never play again following a domestic violence charge, LaMelo Ball is the only potential All-Star on the roster. He is an exciting player, but not good enough to bring them to the playoffs. 

13. Detroit Pistons

The Pistons looked like they had the potential to be better after a strong end to last season for Cade Cunningham. However, improving from their 23-59 record from last season does not mean a lot. 

14. Indiana Pacers

The Pacers have actively been shopping Myles Turner and Buddy Hield. They do not want to be good this season, so they are going to compete with Orlando for the worst team in the East. 

15. Orlando Magic

When the best player on your team is your most recent draft pick in Paolo Banchero, you are probably going to be bad. The Magic will likely be in the running for the first overall pick once again. 

After an exciting regular season, I personally believe the Milwaukee Bucks and the Los Angeles Clippers will meet in the Finals with Giannis leading the Bucks over the top and winning his second Finals MVP. The teams at the very bottom will do their very best to get the first overall pick and a chance at Victor Wembanyama.

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Fan of Minnesota sports, so I'm used to disappointment. Was once mistaken for Ryan Gosling (but I'm more talented). Probably the only Yung Gravy fan you'll meet.

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