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NBA season preview 2022-23 – Contenders, stars and large questions

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What is going to the 2022-23 NBA season be remembered for? Some teams will look very similar, however the landscape of the league is rarely the exact same two years in a row.

An offseason filled with big trades and a handful of star players getting back from injury is sure to shake up the NBA standings.

Utah’s deals that sent Rudy Gobert to Minnesota and Donovan Mitchell to Cleveland will likely drop the Jazz out of the playoff race, while the Timberwolves and Cavaliers will seek to take one other step toward serious contention.

The Nets will look to reestablish themselves as title contenders. Kyrie Irving’s vaccination status won’t hold him out of any home games this season, and Brooklyn will see how Ben Simmons suits into the lineup for the primary time since trading for him in February.

And all eyes can be on LeBron James and the Lakers in one other storyline-filled season in Los Angeles. James is projected to interrupt the NBA scoring record and, alongside Russell Westbrook, will attempt to help the Lakers bounce back from a disappointing campaign.

Here’s a have a look at every team’s outlook for the upcoming season, including a very powerful offseason moves, big questions and which players could possibly be facing a make-or-break 2022-23.

Note: Rankings are based on where members of our panel (ESPN’s Kendra Andrews, Tim Bontemps, Jamal Collier, Nick Friedell, Andrew Lopez, Tim MacMahon, Dave McMenamin, Kevin Pelton and Ohm Youngmisuk) think teams belong heading into this season. Title odds and win totals for 2022-23 by Caesars Sportsbook.

Jump to a team:
ATL | BOS | BKN | CHA | CHI | CLE
DAL | DEN | DET | GS | HOU | IND
LAC | LAL | MEM | MIA | MIL | MIN
NO | NY | OKC | ORL | PHI | PHX
POR | SAC | SA | TOR | UTAH | WAS

Once we last saw them … the Warriors were hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy at center court inside Boston’s TD Garden. It was Golden State’s fourth title in eight years, and the sixth trip to the NBA Finals in that span.

Win-loss projections

Warriors in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: Losing Gary Payton II and Otto Porter Jr.

The Warriors’ offseason saw more departures than they expected after winning the championship. The 2 biggest were Payton and Porter, who left for greater paydays in Portland and Toronto, respectively, massively shrinking the champs’ veteran depth. Payton became the player the Warriors stuck on opponents’ best guard. He would tackle assignments equivalent to All-Stars Devin Booker, Luka Doncic and Ja Morant and do well against them. (Amongst players to seem in not less than half the Warriors’ games last season, Payton led all of them in defensive rating.)

Porter provided the Warriors with a floor-spacer who Golden State felt comfortable playing at either forward spot and sometimes a stretch-5. Porter shot 37% from beyond the arc in 2021-22.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

James Wiseman. It’s hard to assume that that is Wiseman’s third 12 months within the league but can be the primary time he sees consistent playing time since his rookie 12 months. And that season, he played just 39 games before a meniscus injury sidelined him in April 2021.

Quite a few setbacks have kept Wiseman from the court until now. But with the emergence of Kevon Looney as an ironman last season, the Warriors have the posh of with the ability to ease Wiseman back into their system. Wiseman proving he could be a helpful contributor for the Warriors’ title defense becomes more necessary due to his contract situation. The Warriors have until Oct. 31 to select up his fourth-year team option, and he becomes extension-eligible next summer. If no extension is agreed upon, he’ll turn out to be a restricted free agent in 2024.

Quote that may define their season:

“That is the most important crisis that we have had since I have been the coach here. It’s really serious stuff. We’re not perfect. … But we will lean on the experience that now we have together and trust that that is one of the best decision for our team. Now we have numerous work to do. All of us.” — Warriors coach Steve Kerr

There have been a handful of quotes to return out of the altercation between Draymond Green and Jordan Poole that would define the Warriors’ task ahead, but Steve Kerr calling it the biggest crisis in his tenure is difficult to gloss over.

How long will it take for the Warriors to maneuver past Green punching Poole during practice? Green said the incident is within the team’s past and everyone seems to be able to move forward, however it’s hard to assume the difficulty repairing itself in a single week.

When asked how long it would take to construct back the trust he lost from his team, Green told ESPN the difficulty wasn’t about trust but camaraderie: “If you’ve gotten that, you’ll be able to construct through anything,” he said Wednesday. But trust was a serious talking point for Kerr during Green’s time away from the team.

Perhaps there doesn’t must be full trust in a teammate to play basketball with each other, as Green tried to elucidate; but when one of the best teams are built upon a united locker room, the Warriors are surely fractured on that front.

— Kendra Andrews

Once we last saw them … the Bucks lost in Game 7 of the conference semifinals to the eventual East champion Celtics. But Milwaukee continues to be wondering if the consequence could be different with a healthy Khris Middleton.

Win-loss projections

Bucks in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: Adding Joe Ingles

The Bucks brought back nearly their entire roster; 16 of the 20 players in training camp were on the team last 12 months and their top nine players in minutes played last season are once more on the roster. Nonetheless, the Bucks have faith that Ingles, who signed a one-year, $6.5 million contract this offseason, can provide a midseason boost after he recovers from a torn ACL. Ingles has the toughness, experience, size and shooting ability off the bench, but he also just turned 35 years old and is coming off a serious injury.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

Grayson Allen. The Bucks have been thrilled with Allen’s fit, each within the locker room and on the court, however the playoff series against the Celtics exposed a few of his limitations. He struggled defensively and Boston swarmed him from beyond the arc, holding him to twenty.8% from 3 within the series.

Quote that may define their season:

“Talking to Giannis, he loves that, when things are harder for him and he can learn and grow from those moments. And you only feel like he’ll take it to this season and he’ll proceed to enhance and improve and be much more prepared for the playoffs once they come this season.” — Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer

The Bucks are going to go so far as Antetokounmpo takes them. So long as he’s healthy, they’ll have a probability to compete for one more championship. Milwaukee’s faith in keeping its roster together for one more run is centered on a belief they’ve one of the best players around Antetokounmpo, whose prime years are only getting began as he approaches his age-28 season.

— Jamal Collier

Once we last saw them … the Clippers were bounced out of the play-in after losing to Minnesota — and former Clipper Patrick Beverley — and falling to Latest Orleans at home. Outside of some historic comebacks, it was a season to forget. Kawhi Leonard missed your complete season with an ACL injury, and Paul George sat out a big chunk of it with an elbow injury and missed the ultimate play-in game resulting from COVID-19.

Win-loss projections

Clippers in NBArank

  • Kawhi Leonard (12)

  • Paul George (15)

Most impactful offseason move: Adding John Wall

The Clippers hope to handle two weaknesses with the offseason signing of John Wall. Reggie Jackson needed to shoulder the load at point guard last season and wore down because it progressed. Wall not only gives them depth on the position, but the previous No. 1 overall pick has averaged 9.1 assists per game for his profession. While Jackson emerged as a very important scorer who has hit big shots previously two seasons, the Clippers have needed a facilitator who can get Leonard and George easier looks when defenses clamp down.

Wall also gives Ty Lue’s team some much-needed speed. The Clippers ranked nineteenth in pace of play last season. In accordance with Second Spectrum tracking, the Clippers also led the league in catch-and-shoot 3-pointers the past two seasons, which could get much more efficient with Wall’s passing. Wall is a profession 19.1 PPG scorer, but can be trying to bounce back after injuries — and sitting out your complete 2021-22 season with the Rockets — have kept him to simply 40 games over the past three seasons.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

Marcus Morris Sr. Make-or-break is just too strong of an announcement, however the 33-year-old forward can be needed this season to shoot, rebound and defend higher. Morris saw his 3-point shooting dip from 47.3% in 2020-21 to 36.7% last season. As considered one of the Clippers’ true big men alongside Ivica Zubac, Morris might want to help the Clippers rebound while defending other bigs. There can be nights when Lue plays the 6-foot-8 Morris at the middle spot in small-ball lineups. Availability can be key after Morris handled a knee issue last season and played in only 54 games, but he got here into camp looking leaner.

“That is one of the best I’ve felt in an extended time,” Morris said. “I’m just excited. I will be one of the best 3-point shooter within the league this 12 months, top-of-the-line leaders, and just excited to assist the team.”

Quote that may define their season:

“Each of us form of internally had a promise. I do know I did for myself, to bring a championship here. Then if you have a look at how close we were two years back [going to the Western Conference finals], the 12 months Kawhi got hurt, I didn’t want to depart anything on the table … This core has form of been here for years now, and if you have a look at the teams that win and are very successful, it’s teams which have been together, jell and connect.” — Paul George

There is a reason George helped organize two offseason workout retreats in San Diego and Santa Barbara. The Clippers saw the primary season of the Kawhi-PG era crumble within the bubble when the team’s chemistry disintegrated. Leonard, George and the Clippers enter their fourth 12 months together feeling urgency to get to the NBA Finals. They’ve the star duo, perhaps the deepest team within the NBA with veteran experience and a master tactician in Lue. Intangibles equivalent to health, sacrificing with such a deep roster and chemistry could possibly be the difference for the Clippers this season.

— Ohm Youngmisuk

Once we last saw them … the Celtics accomplished one of the crucial remarkable midseason turnarounds in NBA history, surging from under .500 in late January to the second seed within the East and advancing to the Finals for the primary time in 12 years.

Win-loss projections

Celtics in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: The suspension of coach Ime Udoka

Up until the ultimate days of the offseason, this could have been the trade for Malcolm Brogdon, who averaged 19.1 points and 5.9 assists last season for Indiana and can provide a lift to an offense that fell flat at times during Boston’s Finals run. But now it’s the season-long suspension of Udoka, with the coach who helmed Boston’s remarkable turnaround now being replaced by 34-year-old Joe Mazzulla, the league’s youngest coach, who has two years of head-coaching experience … in Division II college hoops.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

Brogdon. The previous Rookie of the 12 months was a frontrunner for the Pacers over the past two years, however the acquisition by Boston for a protected first-round pick and spare parts is an indication his star has fallen significantly. Now he’ll come off the bench behind start line guard Marcus Smart — last 12 months’s Defensive Player of the 12 months.

Quote that may define their season:

“It isn’t about carrying on from one person. It’s about carrying on the identity of our players. We had our struggles early last season, but at our greatest, we knew what our identity was. It was our defense, it was our buy-in from a defensive standpoint after which it was sharing the ball and moving quickly on the offensive end. In order much as we will persist with the things we were great eventually 12 months, after which find areas to enhance along the way in which, I believe is the precise option to go.” — Celtics interim coach Joe Mazzulla

The Udoka situation goes to linger all season in Boston. But, as Mazzulla identified on Celtics media day, it would take a collective effort to recapture what sent the Celtics to the Finals last season and to live as much as expectations. It won’t be easy after not only what happened to Udoka but in addition losing Robert Williams for not less than the primary two to 3 months of the season following knee surgery and Danilo Gallinari for what likely can be your complete 2022-23 campaign after he tore his ACL during EuroBasket in early September.

— Tim Bontemps

Once we last saw them … the 76ers saw their season end within the second round for the fourth time in five years. A full season of the Joel Embiid-James Harden partnership, nonetheless, has Philly eyeing a much deeper run.

Win-loss projections

76ers in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: Adding PJ Tucker

Getting Tucker directly weakened the Heat, the team that knocked Philadelphia out of the playoffs last season, and Embiid delivered a soliloquy about how he had never played with someone like Tucker following Philadelphia’s season-ending Game 6 loss.

Through the opening days of 76ers training camp, Tucker’s booming voice has already turn out to be a staple within the gym, and he provides a level of toughness and intensity this team has lacked in recent seasons. That Tucker is a profession 36% 3-point shooter, and hit 41.5% of his triples last season — is a pleasant secondary profit.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

James Harden. After years of criticism of Harden’s postseason play and a rough end to his first playoffs in Philadelphia, Harden threw himself right into a rigorous offseason program and arrived at camp in tremendous shape.

Regardless of what happens through the regular season, success can be defined by his postseason performance. If something near the MVP version of Harden shows up, perhaps he becomes a first-time NBA champion. If it doesn’t, the fame he has earned of failing under the highlight might never fade.

Quote that may define their season:

“If we’re one of the best defensive team, then we’ll be one of the best team within the league.” — P.J. Tucker

Last season, Philadelphia didn’t have the requisite athleticism and defensive prowess on the perimeter to maintain up with the opposite elite teams within the league. But after adding Tucker, De’Anthony Melton and Danuel House within the offseason, that isn’t any longer the case. Last season, the 76ers were twelfth in defense even with substandard defensive talent.

— Bontemps

Once we last saw them … The Grizzlies matched the franchise record with 56 wins and put up a fight against the eventual champion Warriors within the West semifinals. The Grizzlies’ arrow is pointing up because of a spectacular young core, led by ascending superstar Ja Morant and backcourt sidekick Desmond Bane.

Win-loss projections

Grizzlies in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: Trading De’Anthony Melton

Melton was an enormous a part of the Grizzlies’ bench, but Memphis decided to maneuver on from him, sending him to Philadelphia for injured veteran Danny Green and the No. 23 overall pick, which was used to pick out combo forward David Roddy. It stays to be seen whether the 6-foot-6, 255-pound Roddy could be a regular contributor as a rookie, but Memphis’ front office likes his potential as a wise, expert, physical complement to their explosive backcourt. This move, in addition to allowing small forward Kyle Anderson to depart via free agency, was a vote of confidence within the continued development of second-year swingman Ziaire Williams.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

Dillon Brooks. Brooks deserves credit for giving the Grizzlies toughness and tenacity, critical elements of this team’s personality. He’s an elite defender, willing and capable of guard stars at 4 positions. He has a probability to be a part of Memphis’ core for years to return, if Brooks accepts his role because the fourth or sometimes fifth offensive option and adapts his often poor shot selection. Brooks, who’s in the ultimate season of his contract, cannot proceed to be a low-efficiency shooter; he shot a career-worst 30.9 from deep last season. If he does, he could be on one other team after the trade deadline.

Quote that may define their season:

“A number of guys, they like to do social media, the TikToks, the tweets. … We like to have a good time, however the basketball gods will activate you for those who rejoice too early.” — Danny Green

There have been questions on whether Green could be a part of the Grizzlies’ plans after he arrived in Memphis essentially as salary filler in a trade for a first-round pick this summer. (He won’t be able to return from a torn ACL until late within the regular season at best and is in the ultimate season of his contract.) However the franchise values the 35-year-old Green, a three-time champion, as an extension of the coaching staff. The hope is he can provide guidance to a brash and fun young core.

— Tim MacMahon

Once we last saw them … the Nuggets were eliminated in the primary round of the playoffs by the longer term champion Warriors. Short-handed Denver wasn’t favored to win that series, however the 2022-23 season can be accompanied by different expectations, as two-time reigning MVP Nikola Jokic welcomes back two of his star teammates.

Win-loss projections

Nuggets in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: Adding Bruce Brown

On paper, Brown signing on the midlevel exception is the proper fit. Despite being listed at 6-foot-4, his ability to play guard or slide as much as power forward provides Denver with a latest level of versatility. Brown is a powerful defender and has bumped his perimeter shooting from 28.8% two seasons ago to 40% in 2022-23. Brown can fill the scoring and playmaking voids lost once they traded Will Barton and Monte Morris to Washington this summer.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

Michael Porter Jr. Since he was drafted in 2018, Porter has played in only 129 games resulting from injury. He missed his entire rookie season with a back injury and missed all but nine games last season with one other.

Porter signed a five-year, $207 million max extension in 2021, so his future with the Nuggets is ready from a contract standpoint. But just how necessary he can be for the Nuggets, and his role with the team, still must be proved on the court.

Because the Nuggets look to make the jump from perennial playoff team to true title contender — and benefit from what could possibly be one other MVP-type season from Nikola Jokic — Porter must be their third star behind Jokic and the returning Jamal Murray.

Quote that may define their season:

“The team we will be in October, November isn’t the team that we will be come April.” — Nuggets coach Michael Malone

The Nuggets are usually not only reintegrating Jamal Murray back into their team, but Michael Porter Jr. too. It is going to take a moment for Murray and Porter to get back into midseason form, but by spring, the Nuggets are confident that they can be a competitive playoff team that could make a deep run.

— Andrews

Once we last saw them … the Suns went from having one of the best record within the league to being absolutely demolished by the Mavericks on their home court in Game 7 of the conference semifinals, trailing by as many as 46 points. Identical to after their 2020 Finals loss after being up 2-0, Phoenix will try and pick up the pieces with off-court storylines swirling across the franchise.

Win-loss projections

Suns in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: Signing Deandre Ayton to an extension

Phoenix attempted to be the beneficiary of Kevin Durant’s trade request out of Brooklyn, putting together a package centered on Ayton and Mikal Bridges. When Brooklyn made it clear it would not be dealing Durant, the Suns worked out a four-year, $133 million extension with Ayton.

The move was fascinating on a couple of levels. The extension meant the Suns could be keeping their former No. 1 pick and never trading him to Indiana or Detroit — two teams that had shown interest within the 24-year-old big man, with the Pacers even signing him to a suggestion sheet and putting the Suns on the clock. Also, by the Suns dragging their feet and waiting until mid-July to succeed in the agreement, Ayton was not eligible for the total five-year, $179.6 million extension.

That call saved Phoenix $43 million in guaranteed money to Ayton, however it got here at a price: Ayton can block any potential trade that involves him for a full 12 months. And the Ayton saga continues to be playing out; during training camp he told reporters he and coach Monty Williams didn’t talk all offseason after Ayton was benched in Game 7 against Dallas.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

The complete Suns organization. After the league’s investigation into Robert Sarver’s workplace conduct led to a one-year ban and a $10 million fantastic, the longtime Suns owner reluctantly agreed to sell the team. The pending sale will determine Phoenix’s fate long-term, but within the short-term, the players and coaches may have to weather the fallout while attempting to push past disappointing finishes to their past two seasons.

Training camp was already compromised by Jae Crowder’s refusal to simply accept a bench role after Williams decided to raise Cam Johnson to the starting lineup, leaving the team with an unexpected hole in its rotation while Crowder is away from the team as they field trade offers. And the West only got tougher within the offseason, organising what could possibly be an arduous season in Phoenix.

Quote that may define their season:

“There was a little bit of shock — a moment where I used to be in disbelief. While you see the bullet points after which if you undergo it, you begin to take into consideration how these items impacted people, how is it going to affect our team, the organization, the community?” — Suns coach Monty Williams

The Suns are still navigating an especially difficult situation stemming from Sarver’s misdeeds, and Williams’ statement on the topic during media day definitely won’t be the last time they arrive up. Phoenix doesn’t just have the challenges of extending the prime of a 37-year-old point guard in Chris Paul or getting All-Star Devin Booker and their Defensive Player of the 12 months candidate Bridges to the subsequent level. The muse of their franchise has been shaken to its core.

— Dave McMenamin

Once we last saw them … Miami was a Jimmy Butler 3-pointer late in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals from going to The Finals for the second time in three seasons. There was speculation that Kevin Durant or Donovan Mitchell might ultimately land in South Beach — however it wasn’t meant to be. The Heat also lost popular veteran P.J. Tucker, who signed with the Philadelphia 76ers.

Win-loss projections

Heat in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: Extending Tyler Herro

After failing to land Durant or Mitchell, the Heat gave Herro a four-year $130 million extension lower than per week into training camp. Herro said after the season that he hoped to start out moving forward, but now Herro goes to have lots more responsibility on his shoulders to deliver each night.

Herro’s ability to knock down shots from the surface is solid, but at 22, he has loads of room to grow. After averaging 20.7 points a game within the regular season while winning the Sixth Man of the 12 months award, Herro averaged just 12.6 points over 15 postseason games last 12 months.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

Kyle Lowry. Lowry did not have the season the Heat were hoping he would after signing him to a three-year $90 million deal last offseason. Heat president Pat Riley said he was hopeful that Lowry could be in higher shape this 12 months after a lackluster first season in Miami. Lowry, 36, also needs to be concerned about a few of the lingering injuries that plagued him last 12 months, including a hamstring injury that hampered him within the postseason.

Quote that may define their season:

“I believe that is why I play this game — to win a championship … I actually, really love what I get the chance to do each day.” — Jimmy Butler

Butler’s singular public focus since signing with the Heat three years ago has been to deliver Miami one other championship. It’s why he spends a lot time working on his game and it’s why he stays so confident about with the ability to cross the brink and win a title.

This season will arguably be the hardest challenge Butler has faced. The Heat didn’t land one other star, and Tucker — a player he really respected — is gone. Butler must find a way to lift the remaining of his teammates up greater than he has previously.

— Nick Friedell

Once we last saw them … The Mavs exceeded expectations in coach Jason Kidd’s first 12 months by marching to the West finals, thanks largely to Luka Doncic’s dominance. But Doncic still doesn’t have a co-star.

Win-loss projections

Mavericks in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: Losing Jalen Brunson

The Mavs made it clear that keeping Brunson, their second-best player, was the highest summer priority, but they ended up losing him for nothing. It was the results of an enormous miscalculation of the marketplace for Brunson. Dallas hesitated to supply Brunson the four-year, $56 million extension he would have eagerly signed at one point, and Mavs governor Mark Cuban wasn’t willing to match the $104 million offer Brunson got from the Knicks. Dallas hopes the return of Tim Hardaway Jr. and the addition of Christian Wood can replace Brunson’s scoring, however it’s an enormous blow for a franchise with championship aspirations to lose its homegrown point guard.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

Christian Wood. Wood believes he might be an All-Star but will begin his Mavs tenure by coming off the bench. Whether he embraces that role — Wood is entering a contract 12 months — can be a significant component in determining the length of his stay in Dallas. Wood brings a powerful skill set as an enormous who’s able to scoring as a 3-point shooter, lob threat and off the dribble. His critics (who include a lot of NBA scouts) will say all he has proved is he can put up numbers on bad teams.

Quote that may define their season:

“We will speak about defense. We will speak about helping one another. We talked about that last 12 months. I do know numerous people didn’t consider that we were going to play defense, but we did. And it starts with our greatest player, Luka. I believe he’s up for the challenge.” — Mavericks coach Jason Kidd

The Mavs soared to seventh in defensive efficiency last season, 14 spots higher than in Rick Carlisle’s final campaign as Dallas coach. They’ll must remain in that range to have any hope of being an actual threat within the West. That can require “participation” from Doncic, to borrow a term from Kidd. It’s his way of claiming Doncic cannot take plays off on defense, demanding his star do his part in a scheme designed to guard the Mavs’ MVP candidate as much as possible.

— MacMahon

Once we last saw them … The Nets underwent a tumultuous offseason after getting swept by the Boston Celtics within the East quarterfinals. Star forward Kevin Durant asked for a trade, reportedly asked for coach Steve Nash and general manager Sean Marks to be fired after which decided to return back. The Nets arguably had probably the most up-and-down summer in the game.

Win-loss projections

Nets in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: Not dealing Kevin Durant

The organization has revolved around Durant since he signed with Brooklyn three years ago, but now it must discover a option to reestablish itself with Durant after his trade request. Durant recently explained his decision, saying, partly, that he was disenchanted in how he felt players weren’t being held accountable last season. Durant, Nash and Marks all seem confident that they’ll keep moving forward together — but the final word test will come every time the Nets hit adversity this season.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

Ben Simmons. After almost a 12 months and a half off the court while demanding a trade out of Philadelphia, dealing together with his mental health and back surgery, Simmons must prove to the league that he can still play at a high level each night. The Nets are confident that Simmons will find his rhythm again quickly. In the event that they wish to rise back as much as the highest of the East, they need Simmons to click with Durant and Kyrie Irving.

Quote that may define their season:

“I believe they’ll have a certain element of cohesion out of the gates because they’re all really good basketball players, but hopefully it’s something that evolves. They usually can proceed to search out ways to make one another higher. I believe that is the sweetness, that they really fit very well together, however it may take time. But out of the gates, they’re still three great basketball players who I believe are excited to play together and can make things occur immediately. But let’s hope that there is a continuing growth as well.” — Nets coach Steve Nash

The Nets’ biggest key to success this 12 months is easy: Can Durant, Irving and Simmons all discover a rhythm together? In the event that they can, the Nets figure to be considered one of the higher and most interesting teams within the league. If the three stars play well — and Nash can keep all of the egos in check — Brooklyn might finally begin to appear to be the kind of strong team it has been hoping to see since Durant and Irving decided to sign over three years ago.

— Friedell

Once we last saw them … After making the playoffs through the play-in tournament, the young Timberwolves gave the Memphis Grizzlies a test in the primary round, stretching the series to 6 games — the longest Minnesota postseason run since 2004.

Win-loss projections

Timberwolves in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: Trading for Rudy Gobert

Weeks after taking the job because the Timberwolves’ president of basketball operations, Tim Connelly boldly dealt 4 first-round picks — three of them unprotected — five players (including No. 22 pick Walker Kessler) and a pick swap to the Utah Jazz for Gobert.

There isn’t any doubt adding the three-time Defensive Player of the 12 months will upgrade a defense that ranked thirteenth in defensive rating but declined to 18th from December onward. Minnesota particularly struggled to guard the paint, allowing the league’s sixth-highest percentage on the rim, in keeping with Second Spectrum tracking on NBA Advanced Stats. (Opponents hit 49% of such shots against Gobert, third-lowest amongst players who defended not less than 200 attempts.)

Still, to justify the expense in each draft picks and salary (Gobert will make $170 million over the subsequent 4 seasons), the Timberwolves might want to go deep into the playoffs.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

D’Angelo Russell. Once upon a time, Russell was Minnesota’s big addition via trade on the 2020 deadline to team up with friend Karl-Anthony Towns. Although the Timberwolves got to the playoffs and were much better with Russell on the court last season, he hasn’t developed into the playmaker the team hoped for after Russell made the 2019 All-Star Game with the Nets.

Now, Russell is entering the ultimate season of the contract he signed in the summertime of 2019, and his place in Minnesota’s future is uncertain. If Russell can pair his career-best shooting contained in the arc last season (49%) with the 39% he shot on 3s in 2020-21, he could play his way into an extension given the Timberwolves forfeited their probability at meaningful cap space with the Gobert trade.

If Russell struggles, nonetheless, he could possibly be on the move again as an expiring salary on the deadline.

Quote that may define their season:

“I’ve all the time loved to play with one other dominant big, because I’ve all the time thought that I could pass.” — Rudy Gobert

Even greater than Russell’s performance and the event of point guard Anthony Edwards, the pairing of Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns within the frontcourt will define the ceiling for Minnesota this season.

At media day, Gobert expressed excitement about playing alongside one other powerful frontcourt player, something he noted the Jazz successfully transitioned away from the past three seasons, pairing Gobert with stretch 4 Bojan Bogdanovic. Gobert has continued to play in additional traditional frontcourts with the French national team, which won silver in EuroBasket last month.

If Gobert is capable of make plays for teammates along with benefiting from the gravity provided by Towns’ dangerous outside shooting, the Timberwolves may benefit almost as much offensively from the trade as on defense.

— Kevin Pelton

Once we last saw them … Cleveland went 13-3 from mid-January to mid-February to climb into the highest 4 within the Eastern Conference standings. Injuries then caught as much as the Cavs, they usually lost two play-in games to Brooklyn and Atlanta before shocking the basketball world with the most important trade of the summer.

Win-loss projections

Cavaliers in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: Trading for Donovan Mitchell

After the Latest York Knicks were the presumed favorite to land Mitchell for months, Cavaliers general manager Koby Altman swooped in with a deal the Utah Jazz couldn’t say no to: three unprotected first-round picks, two pick swaps, plus Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen and Ochai Agbaji.

In Mitchell, Cleveland now has a 26-year-old three-time All-Star to mesh with last season’s first-time All-Stars, Darius Garland (22) and Jarrett Allen (24), together with Rookie of the 12 months runner-up Evan Mobley (21). Mitchell is understood for his penchant for scoring, having averaged north of 20 points in each of his five NBA seasons. Now he can be tasked with meshing defensively with a Cavs team that jumped from twenty fifth in defensive rating in 2020-21 all of the option to No. 5 last season under coach J.B. Bickerstaff.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

Caris LeVert. It is going to be an interesting season for LeVert. Once a foundational player for a young Brooklyn team on the rise, his profession arc has turn out to be murkier in stops in Indiana and Cleveland. After undergoing surgery for kidney cancer and making a full recovery, LeVert finds himself as a potent scorer on a Cavs team with big expectations.

Nonetheless, entering the season on an expiring $18.8 million deal, he has the kind of contract that could possibly be useful for Altman if he’s trying to make tweaks to the roster by the trade deadline. On one hand, having a full training camp to learn Bickerstaff’s system after being acquired via trade in the midst of last season should allow the 28-year-old LeVert to obviously define his role. However, it will be comprehensible if he puts pressure on himself in a contract 12 months to resume his ascendant track.

Quote that may define their season:

“After I first discovered I used to be golfing. I used to be running around crazy, mainly the truth is, after I discovered who we kept within the deal. Because I didn’t know who was within the trade, I just knew I used to be traded. After I discovered we kept DG and JA and Ev and Caris, I used to be like, ‘Wow. We got a talented group.’ A team that was third within the East after which obviously injuries got here about. That was before I came and now we will only look to do more and higher and just proceed to win and construct. … We’re young, but we’re hungry and we’re ready.” — Donovan Mitchell, at his introductory news conference in Cleveland

It’s rarely a team can have this level of unbridled optimism heading right into a season without it coming off sounding unrealistic, but the enjoyment just could be justified for this Cavs group.

— McMenamin

Once we last saw them … The Pelicans bowed out in six games in the primary round to the top-seeded Suns. The Pelicans had stormed back from a 3-16 begin to make the play-in tournament and defeated the Spurs and Clippers to advance because the eighth seed.

Win-loss projections

Pelicans in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: Extending Zion Williamson

With so many guaranteed contracts on the roster, the Pelicans didn’t make many moves this offseason. They signed CJ McCollum and Larry Nance to extensions this fall, but probably the most impactful extension got here in July, when Zion Williamson agreed to a five-year rookie max contract extension with no player option. Williamson’s extension continued the wave of excellent vibes that has washed over the team because the McCollum trade. Williamson, McCollum and Brandon Ingram are all under contract for not less than the subsequent three years.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for … Devonte’ Graham

When the Pelicans acquired Graham from the Hornets in a sign-and-trade, many checked out him as a substitute for Lonzo Ball, who had been sent from Latest Orleans to Chicago. But the unique plan for Graham was to be more of a spot-up shooter around Williamson somewhat than the team’s point guard. But in that point, the Pelicans traded for CJ McCollum to play the purpose guard position with their starters, and defensive star Jose Alvarado evolved from a two-way player to getting major minutes within the playoffs.

If Graham goes to carve out a job, he’ll need to hit shots. Graham shot 39.8% on catch-and-shoot 3s last season in comparison with just 25.7% on pull-up 3s.

Quote that may define their season:

“I believe that is the primary time the external expectations have reached what our own internal expectations have been. And, and that is, that is an enormous deal.” — Pelicans executive vp of basketball operations David Griffin

Griffin, who’s in his fourth season in Latest Orleans, is correct. There have not been many high outside expectations prior to this season. The Pelicans have suffered three straight losing seasons with disappointing ends to the primary two, but last 12 months’s finish gave the team life.

Despite a 36-46 finish, the Pelicans went 33-30 after a horrid start. But they played higher than .500 basketball with McCollum within the lineup through the ultimate 26 games of the season and the 2 play-in games (15-13).

The Pelicans have quite a lot of options with their offensive firepower. Ingram, McCollum and a healthy Williamson have all averaged not less than 23 points per game of their careers. If the defense can come around, those great expectations could possibly be met.

— Lopez

Once we last saw them … the injury-ravaged Raptors fell against the 76ers in the primary round, where they won Games 4 and 5 after falling down 3-0 within the series before losing a lopsided Game 6. Still, it was a powerful season for Toronto, which saw Pascal Siakam return to All-NBA status and Scottie Barnes win Rookie of the 12 months.

Win-loss projections

Raptors in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: Adding Otto Porter Jr.

By default, the one move to alter the makeup of the roster this offseason was the signing of Porter from the defending champion Warriors, adding one other 6-foot-8 wing to a team virtually only made up of them at this point. While they were thrown into the combination in discussions about every big-name player available — most notably Kevin Durant — Toronto remained quiet this summer. The Raptors do have a choice on Fred VanVleet, who’s a 12 months away from free agency, though each he and the Raptors have said they need their partnership to proceed.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

OG Anunoby. It has been an odd couple of seasons for Anunoby, who has only played a combined 91 games the past two years resulting from various injuries. His offensive production has increased every season of his profession and he stays an elite wing defender, but injuries have raised questions on his future in Toronto. Anunoby turned 25 in July and will just be entering his prime, making his situation considered one of the NBA’s most intriguing.

Quote that may define their season:

“I believe on this organization we have all the time wanted to evangelise patience. We would like to win. We’re expecting to win. Truthfully, we will not react to what is going on on within the league. Yeah, we see other teams. We study all of that. But by way of our plan, it’s to grow our young players and proceed to develop and see [where] that takes us.” — Raptors president of basketball operations Masai Ujiri

The Raptors are stuck within the in-between, which is why ESPN’s “all-in” tiers determined Toronto was all-in on, well, “nothing.”

Toronto does have the posh of entering into any direction, including just letting young players like Barnes grow. The query for this season is whether or not the Raptors will prove they’ve enough to compete now in a rapidly improving East, or if they’ll have to start out shifting their timeline.

— Tim Bontemps

Once we last saw them … The Hawks made it back to the postseason via the play-in tournament and large wins against Charlotte and Cleveland to advance because the eighth seed. Atlanta then fell to the top-seeded Heat in the primary round.

Win-loss projections

Hawks in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: Trading for Dejounte Murray

The Hawks paid a hefty price for his or her latest star guard, dealing three first-round picks and a pick swap to San Antonio for Murray. Last season with San Antonio, Murray earned his first All-Star selection and finished the season averaging 21.1 points, 9.2 assists, 8.3 rebounds and a league-leading 2.0 steals per game.

Atlanta brought Murray on board to enhance its defense. (The Hawks finished twenty sixth within the league last season with a 113.7 defensive rating.) If Murray can assist shore up the defensive end, it’ll help Atlanta’s No. 2 rated offense (115.4 offensive rating) shine much more.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

Clint Capela. Capela has been considered one of the NBA premier rebounders for quite a couple of seasons — including leading the league with 14.9 boards a game in 2021-22 — however the double-double machine has some competition behind him in former No. 6 overall pick Onyeka Okongwu. Capela, who’s owed over $61.5 million over the subsequent three seasons, saw his scoring dip to 11.1 points per game — the bottom in his profession as a full-time starter. His minutes dropped to 27.6 per game — his lowest in 4 seasons. Okongwu, still on his rookie deal at $14.5 million over the subsequent two seasons, made a push for taking part in time throughout last season.

Quote that may define their season:

“Miami showed us that now we have to enhance and improve and it showed Trae that you’ve gotten to learn to play a unique type of ball. What you probably did was great but you’ll be able to do more, and Trae is up for that. He understands that.” — Hawks coach Nate McMillan

For all of the offseason hype across the Murray trade, the Hawks’ success will depend upon Trae Young taking them to the subsequent level. Once they made the East finals in 2020-21, Young carved his way through the Knicks and 76ers before Atlanta ran out of steam against the champion Bucks.

Last 12 months’s first-round exit against Miami was a wake-up call within the organization, hence why they felt they needed to exit and make a trade for somebody like Murray. Young took an enormous step forward last 12 months in his efficiency: He hit profession highs in field goal rate (46.0%), 3-point rate (38.2%) and free throw rate (90.4%).

— Andrew Lopez

Once we last saw them … The Bulls returned to the playoffs for the primary time since 2017 in the primary 12 months with the All-Star trio of DeMar DeRozan, Zach LaVine and Nikola Vucevic, but Chicago was quickly ousted by Milwaukee in the primary round.

Win-loss projections

Bulls in NBArank

  • Zach LaVine (27)

  • DeMar DeRozan (28)

  • Nikola Vucevic (57)

  • Lonzo Ball (78)

Most impactful offseason “move”: Lonzo Ball’s knee surgery

Injuries derailed a promising first half for Chicago and are already threatening to jeopardize this season. Ball underwent arthroscopic surgery on his left knee at the beginning of coaching camp, his second since January, and neither he, nor the Bulls, have much clarity on when he’ll return.

Chicago was not the identical team without Ball last 12 months (27-13 before the injury; 19-23 after). The trio of Alex Caruso, Ayo Dosunmu and veteran Goran Dragic, whom the Bulls signed in free agency, will attempt to fill the playmaking void.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

Nikola Vucevic. The Bulls’ move to amass Vucevic from the Magic on the 2021 trade deadline has provided the jolt the franchise had envisioned. Chicago didn’t make the play-in tournament in 2020-21 — ceding the No. 8 overall pick to Orlando, which was breakout candidate Franz Wagner — and although they got back to the playoffs last 12 months, Vucevic struggled because the third option alongside DeRozan and LaVine. Vucevic shot 47.3% from the sphere 31.4% from 3, his lowest totals since 2017-18.

The Bulls are counting on Vucevic to have a bounce-back season in the ultimate 12 months of his contract.

Quote that may define their season:

“Last 12 months, we weren’t surprised we made the playoffs. A number of people were surprised. Nor should we be surprised to make the playoffs this 12 months, but what we would like to see is improvement. When you get to the playoffs and you’ve gotten healthy bodies numerous things can occur; now we have to do higher than last 12 months.” — Bulls vp Arturas Karnisovas

Despite some large query marks entering the season, especially surrounding Ball’s health, the Bulls have their sights set not only on attending to the postseason again, but advancing within the playoffs as well. It is a natural progression to construct on from last season, but in addition high internal expectations for a team with greater than a couple of unknowns — at point guard, whether Vucevic will bounce back and the expansion of young players equivalent to Patrick Williams and Dosunmu. Chicago led the East for many of last season’s first half, but injuries to Ball, Caruso and LaVine kept the Bulls from playing at full strength down the stretch and within the postseason.

— Collier

Once we last saw them … the Knicks didn’t construct on their surprising surge to fourth place within the East two seasons ago. Last 12 months’s Eleventh-place finish was headlined by a steep regression from Julius Randle following his All-NBA performance in 2020-21.

Win-loss projections

Knicks in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: Adding Jalen Brunson

The signing of Brunson gives the Knicks desperately needed stability at point guard. Yes, there are many ties between Brunson and the Knicks’ front office and training staff. But that may, at times, overshadow the proven fact that Brunson is a superb point guard coming off a profession season with the Mavericks. Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau has found success with small guards, and Brunson could possibly be the subsequent player to profit.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

Julius Randle. What a difference a 12 months makes. Throughout the 2020-21 season, Randle was making an All-NBA team for the primary time, leading the Knicks to the playoffs and becoming the brand new franchise player in Latest York. Last 12 months, his production cratered, the Knicks struggled and Randle got into an unwinnable feud with the team’s fans. After going from 41.1% on 3-pointers in his All-NBA campaign to 30% last season, Randle’s success will likely be tied as to whether he can regain his form as a reliable 3-point shooter.

Quote that may define their season:

“People think you must make this huge leap out of nowhere, and it’s like, for those who just add one or two things to your game and just improve every 12 months steadily, you are going to get to where you would like to go, whether it comes instantly or comes later.” — RJ Barrett

This summer, Barrett became the primary Knicks first-round pick to sign a multiyear contract extension with the franchise since Charlie Ward in 1999. To place that stat nugget into context: Only three players on the present Knicks roster were even born when Ward was chosen by Latest York in the primary round of the 1994 draft.

Barrett is considered one of the few players — especially considering his draft pedigree because the third overall pick in 2019 — to turn out to be the form of star the Knicks have lacked since Carmelo Anthony left the franchise. If Barrett takes one other step in that direction, it will be an enormous development for Latest York’s present and future.

— Bontemps

Once we last saw them … In a word, the Los Angeles Lakers’ 2021-22 season was disastrous. L.A. traded for Russell Westbrook to get back to championship status but ended up taking a step backward. The Lakers missed the playoffs, fired their coach and turned over greater than half their roster.

Win-loss projections

Lakers in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: Not trading Russell Westbrook

The Lakers engaged the Jazz and Indiana Pacers in various trade discussions centered on the 15-year veteran but balked at any demands for the inclusion of each their 2027 and 2029 first-round picks. Now, Darvin Ham will begin his tenure as Lakers coach tasked with getting more out of the 2017 league MVP. Westbrook said that “trusting and sacrificing” can be the important thing to the Lakers constructing the chemistry that eluded their team in 2021-22. Westbrook and Ham apparently have the trust part down, staying in constant communication since Ham got the job in June.

Sacrificing could possibly be the tricky part. Westbrook made it clear last season that he preferred the ball in his hands more often. His usage rate clocked in at 27.3, which was behind LeBron James’ 32.3 but ahead of Anthony Davis’s 27.0. Nonetheless, his individual output made it hard to justify giving him the keys over James. If he cannot slot in higher under Ham, the entire season could possibly be compromised until a trade partner is found.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for … Anthony Davis

Davis has missed more games than he has played previously two seasons, making his dominant play within the NBA bubble in Orlando appear to be a distant memory. The 29-year-old big man is aware the injuries have hurt each his team and his fame, vowing to treat this season with a “chip on our shoulder” and repeatedly stating his intent to play in all 82 games.

The eight-time All-Star has already commented on how Ham’s defense requires him to position himself further back in pick-and-roll coverage than he’s accustomed to playing — hoping to force teams into floaters that he has the potential of rejecting (he has led the league in blocks 3 times). But he must also fight those instincts because that may leave the rim unprotected when the offensive player fakes a floater and makes a dump-off pass to an enormous lurking on the baseline.

Quote that may define their season:

“We must always find a way to be considered one of the elite defensive teams. We will put the work in. We will do the breakdowns. Now we have the personnel for it. And now it’s just all about activating and making it come to fruition.” — Lakers coach Darvin Ham

A top-three defensive team within the league in each of Frank Vogel’s first two years coaching L.A., the Lakers slipped into the 20s last season. Ham expects defense to be what allows L.A. to climb back up the standings.

— McMenamin

Once we last saw them … The playoff drought continues because the Sacramento Kings didn’t make the postseason for the sixteenth straight season — the longest lively drought within the NBA/MLB/NFL/NHL and the longest drought in NBA history. The Kings fired Luke Walton, replaced him with Alvin Gentry, traded the favored Tyrese Haliburton and Buddy Hield to Indiana for Domantas Sabonis and still didn’t win greater than 30 games.

Win-loss projections

Kings in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: Hiring coach Mike Brown

The Kings are hoping that Brown can bring a few of that Golden State championship touch with him up north to Sacramento. If Brown goes to interrupt the playoff drought, he might get an enormous helping hand from heralded rookie Keegan Murray. Murray, the fourth overall pick on this 12 months’s draft, is considered one of the favorites to win Rookie of the 12 months. The Las Vegas Summer League MVP impressed in his preseason debut with 16 points, 6 rebounds and a pair of steals in 20 minutes. Yes, it’s preseason, however the Kings could be onto something with Murray.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

De’Aaron Fox. It is unquestionably not make or break, but that is Fox’s fifth season, and it will be nice to see perhaps the league’s fastest player with the ball within the postseason for once. Fox hasn’t had a ton of stability in Sacramento. Brown can be Fox’s fourth coach in five years including Gentry, who took over for Walton last season. The Kings appear to have balanced out the roster, and with a latest coach, this just could be the season Fox reaches the playoffs. “I’m 24,” Fox said. “I’d still be considered a young guy in every facet, every lifestyle … for those who cannot improve at 24 years old for nonetheless long you play, then there is a problem.”

Quote that may define their season:

“We have got numerous athleticism. Now we have numerous guys that may shoot the ball. That’s something that might be big for us this 12 months. Obviously defensively, Mike is already on us.” — De’Aaron Fox

For all of the offensive talent on the roster, the Kings may have to play Brown’s brand of defense to ensure that them to achieve his system. Sacramento ranked twenty seventh in defensive efficiency last season and last in 2020-21. The Kings haven’t finished even in the highest half of the league in defensive efficiency since Rick Adelman’s final season in 2005-06. Brown led the Warriors to second in defensive efficiency last season. Getting the players, including his stars Fox and Sabonis, to purchase in and lead defensively will determine whether or not the Kings can contend for a playoff spot this season.

— Youngmisuk

Once we last saw them … With nearly all its key players sidelined, Portland went through one of the crucial miserable conclusions to a season in NBA history, going 2-21 after the All-Star break with 11 of the losses by not less than 25 points — more such losses than the Blazers ever had previously suffered in a complete season.

Win-loss projections

Trail Blazers in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: Trading for Jerami Grant

Along with getting starters back from injury, Portland dealt the 2025 Milwaukee first-round pick received within the CJ McCollum trade to the Detroit Pistons for Grant, reuniting him with Damian Lillard after they won gold together for the USA within the Tokyo Olympics.

Grant demonstrated he could shoulder a bigger offensive role in two seasons in Detroit, averaging a career-high 22.3 PPG in 2020-21 after being a job player earlier in his profession. Now he’s headed to more of a hybrid role, handling the ball more continuously than he did in his first three stops but with more proven talent around him than with the Pistons.

The Blazers are also counting on Grant to be the form of wing stopper he was through the Denver Nuggets’ run to the 2020 conference finals, upgrading a defense that was the league’s second worst last season.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

Nassir Little. I’m unsure any Portland player truly qualifies, but this can be a very important season for Little if he and the Blazers are unable to agree on an extension to his rookie contract by the Oct. 17 deadline.

Little doesn’t must look far to see an example of a bet on restricted free agency paying off. Anfernee Simons didn’t extend his contract last October and parlayed a breakout campaign right into a four-year, $100 million contract over the summer.

After starting 23 games during his third season, the 22-year-old Little will compete with Josh Hart and maybe newcomer Gary Payton II for the open spot within the Portland starting lineup alongside Lillard, Grant, Simons and holdover Jusuf Nurkic. Little could boost his probabilities by improving on last season’s 33% accuracy from 3-point range to go together with his high-percentage ending and defensive versatility.

Quote that may define their season:

“Seeing Golden State have a couple of down seasons and a couple of bad seasons, after which show that they were still connected and have some young guys are available and step up, [they went] on the market and [did] what no person expected them to do.” — Damian Lillard

Crucial decision of the Blazers’ offseason was the recommitment of the team and Lillard to one another with a two-year extension price a minimum of $106 million starting in 2025-26. That deal reflected Lillard’s optimism that Portland can return to playoff contention after a 12 months within the lottery and the organization’s selection of that path as a substitute of a full rebuild with the young talent available.

A Warriors-level bounce-back is not realistic given the Blazers weren’t legitimate championship contenders before, but they might get back to the playoffs if the newcomers complement Lillard as hoped.

— Pelton

Once we last saw them … The Wizards opened the season with hope, after trading Russell Westbrook away for key contributors like Spencer Dinwiddie, Kyle Kuzma, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Montrezl Harrell. They jumped out to a 10-3 start and were 22-20 before the wheels fell off. Washington lost six straight and went right into a tailspin. The Wizards lost Bradley Beal to a wrist injury that required season-ending surgery. But they traded for Kristaps Porzingis and used the top of the season to stay up for this season.

Win-loss projections

Wizards in NBArank

  • Bradley Beal (19)

  • Kristaps Porzingis (86)

Most impactful offseason move: Trading for Monte Morris

The Wizards hope that they’ve found a gentle point guard in Morris. They traded Caldwell-Pope and Ish Smith for Morris and veteran wing Will Barton. Morris began last season in Denver rather than the injured Jamal Murray and averaged 12.6 points and 4.4 assists. He is also regular and infrequently turns the ball over, rating fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio amongst qualified players, trailing only Tyus Jones, Tre Jones and Chris Paul last season.

Morris already is conversant in Kuzma because the two are childhood friends from Michigan. Barton, a Baltimore native, also gets a fresh start after seven-plus seasons in Denver and provides the Wizards with more veteran scoring from the wing position.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

Kristaps Porzingis. It’s his first full season in Washington so it’s probably not make-or-break, however it is time for Porzingis to indicate that he can stay healthy and consistent. This can be his seventh season, but Porzingis has averaged about 50 games a season over the past 4 seasons. He flashed his massive potential in 17 games with the Wizards after the trade, averaging 22.1 points, 8.8 rebounds and 1.5 blocks. But now Washington will get to see what Porzingis can do alongside Beal. With a fresh start, Porzingis may have to indicate that he can thrive alongside one other high-scoring guard and that he can still do unicorn-like things and win.

Quote that may define their season:

“I believe the most important thing for me is the fit. The talent is one thing, and I believe there is a higher fit, and that does help that competitive spirit, the connectivity that we speak about. When it suits and guys get ‘big picture,’ what’s a very powerful thing? That is winning. That mindset appears to be more of a collective throughout the group than I believe we have seen previously.” — Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr.

Unseld saw a promising begin to his first 12 months as a head coach fizzle as a few of the veterans on the team were more concerned about roles and minutes. There was bickering, including Caldwell-Pope and Harrell shouting at one another as they walked into the tunnel at halftime of a game before having to be separated within the locker room. The Wizards do not have to fret about Beal potentially leaving after the franchise guard signed a five-year max contract for $251 million. But Washington cannot keep wasting Beal’s prime years. The Wizards have made the playoffs only once previously 4 years and that required a torrid tear at the top of the 2020-21 season with Westbrook simply to get in.

Washington hopes that the chemistry of this group can be significantly higher than it was last season. Its playoff hopes will rest on whether Beal and Porzingis can thrive together.

— Youngmisuk

Once we last saw them … The Pistons found themselves picking in the highest five of the draft for the second consecutive season, but brighter days could possibly be ahead for Detroit after adding a pair of lottery picks in Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren.

Win-loss projections

Pistons in NBArank

Cade Cunningham (35)

Most impactful offseason move: Trading for Bojan Bogdanovic

The Pistons didn’t have to offer up much to amass him, but bringing in Bogdanovic before training camp in a cope with the rebuilding Jazz could possibly be an enormous boost for Detroit. Bogdanovic brings positional size on the wing and adds experience to what can be considered one of the youngest rosters within the league. He’s a profession 39% 3-point shooter, which addresses a direct need — Detroit was twenty ninth in 3-point percentage and twenty sixth in 3-pointers made last season.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

Killian Hayes. Hayes was the No. 7 overall pick within the 2020 draft, but this season could be his last probability to secure a spot with this franchise. The Pistons’ core is now centered around Cunningham, Ivey, Duren, Saddiq Bey and Isaiah Stewart, but Hayes must have a probability to search out his place on this rotation this season.

He vowed to be more aggressive offensively and says he has tweaked his shot — Hayes is a profession 37.4% shooter and 26.8% from beyond the arc — but when he continues to struggle, the Pistons could look to maneuver on from a player they once believed to be an enormous a part of their rebuild.

Quote that may define their season:

“We’re still in the expansion mode, but we’re able to compete at a better level than we did last 12 months. … We’re definitely entering into the precise direction with that group.” — Pistons coach Dwane Casey

While optimism grows, the Pistons have been careful in placing expectations on this season. They won 23 games in 2021-22, and their best players are still under 25 years old, so even with a double-digit jump in wins, they likely would still find themselves outside of the play-in picture.

Detroit does expect to see progress, especially from former No. 1 overall pick Cade Cunningham. The roster around him is healthier and more talented, and the Pistons consider Cunningham can proceed to become a star. The cabinet is not bare anymore on this roster, however the Pistons won’t skip steps.

— Collier

Once we last saw them … Charlotte got knocked out of the play-in tournament for the second straight 12 months. Then they fired coach James Borrego and brought back Steve Clifford, the Hornets’ coach from 2013 to 2018, to steer a team with some strong young players. LaMelo Ball took a serious step in his development, averaging 20.1 points, 7.6 assists and 6.7 rebounds a game last season.

Win-loss projections

Hornets in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: The Miles Bridges situation

Apart from Clifford’s reemergence, the news that may need affected the Hornets most is Miles Bridges being charged with three counts of domestic violence. Bridges, who was in line for a serious payday this summer, is now in limbo as his legal situation unfolds. Bridges averaged 20.2 points and 7 rebounds a game last season.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

Gordon Hayward. Hayward signed a four-year, $120 million deal prior to the 2020-21 season, but he has been capable of play in only 93 out of a possible 154 games over the primary two years of the deal. At 32 years old, Hayward can still be a solid veteran presence on a young team that needs a lift. But when the Hornets actually wish to go to the playoffs, they need Hayward to remain on the ground and produce. His 15.9 points per game last season was his lowest average because the 2018-19 campaign when he was still recovering from a gruesome leg injury.

Quote that may define their season:

“We’re going to play offensively with a really similar emphasis that they’ve played with the last couple of years. Offense starts with playing through the strengths of your best players, and Ball is a terrific talent with a passion for the sport and a flair for taking part in within the open court — and we would like to benefit from that.” — Hornets coach Steve Clifford, during his introductory news conference

After getting hired for the second time, Clifford made sure to notice he didn’t wish to take away the exciting, up-tempo offense that Ball has sparked in his first two seasons. Clifford is one of the crucial universally respected coaches — and teachers — in the sport. He should find a way to assist lift a Hornets defense that finished with 113.1 defensive rating — good for twenty second last 12 months.

— Friedell

Once we last saw them … The Magic finished an East-worst 22-60. They got the No.1 pick within the NBA draft Lottery and took Duke star Paolo Banchero. There may be optimism throughout the organization that they finally have a solid core of young players to construct around and earn relevance within the league.

Win-loss projections

Magic in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: Drafting Paolo Banchero

There was numerous speculation regarding what the Magic might do with the highest pick, but ultimately, they took the 19-year-old Banchero. They usually hope he might be the kind of franchise player they have not had since Dwight Howard left town a decade ago. Banchero has generated numerous hope that brighter days are ahead for a struggling team that desperately must reenergize a dormant fan base.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

Jonathan Isaac. There are many different options on this category from the Magic, but Isaac suits the bill due to just how much time he has missed. He hasn’t played in over two years since injuring his knee within the NBA bubble in August 2020. At 25, Isaac still has loads of time to jump-start his profession again, however it stays to be seen what form of player he can be after missing that much time.

Quote that may define their season:

“I actually consider that we will do it by committee, truthfully. Have a look at the Warriors. Have a look at Milwaukee; you have a look at Memphis. There’s something in regards to the committee by which they do it. One person will speak at times, but there’s other guys holding every one accountable. There’s one guy that may speak up and do it a unique way, work another way. That is the way in which this team is shaping up; each guy’s going to have a unique kind of voice on a unique night.” — Magic coach Jamahl Mosley

Mosley desires to do anything he can to take pressure off of Banchero in his rookie season, however the rise or ongoing fall of the Magic will depend considerably on how Banchero adapts in his first NBA 12 months. For his part, Banchero seems confident he’ll find a way to handle all the additional scrutiny coming his way, but Mosley desires to be certain that that each one his young players, including guys like former first-rounders Jalen Suggs, Franz Wagner, Cole Anthony and Wendell Carter Jr., are doing their part alongside Markelle Fultz and Isaac.

— Friedell

Once we last saw them … The Pacers officially began to maneuver on from their previous core and shift into rebuild mode, trading Domantas Sabonis to the Kings for Tyrese Haliburton and dealing Malcolm Brogdon to the Celtics over the summer.

Win-loss projections

Pacers in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: Drafting Bennedict Mathurin

Fans in Indiana seem almost certain to endure some down years before the team is able to compete again, but Mathurin’s development could make a young Pacers team fun and watchable this season. Mathurin, the No. 6 overall pick, is a flexible forward who can shoot (38% from 3 in college), and he joins a squad crammed with former lottery picks in Haliburton, Jalen Smith and Chris Duarte.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

Myles Turner. Turner has been rumored in trade talks for a while, and it could be a matter of time before his tenure with the Pacers involves an end. Turner also has to prove he can stay healthy for a complete season after playing a combined 89 games over the past two campaigns. But Turner stays top-of-the-line paint defenders within the NBA — he has led the league in blocks twice over the past 4 seasons — and will provide a very important boost to a contender.

Quote that may define their season:

“It is a latest era, an official latest era of Pacers basketball. It’s definitely a direction of youth. It is a direction of going all-in on a gaggle of men which might be young, talented, of extremely high character and tremendous upside.” — Pacers coach Rick Carlisle

The Pacers are usually not shy about their rebuild. At the middle of their roster overhaul can be Haliburton, who they acquired from the Kings on the 2022 trade deadline. Indiana is able to make Haliburton — the No. 12 pick within the 2020 draft — considered one of its core players after he averaged 15 points and eight assists while shooting 41% from 3 in his second season within the NBA.

— Collier

Once we last saw them … The Spurs stumbled into the play-in scenario last season, ending tenth within the West primarily because a couple of teams below them were tanking and two were incompetent. San Antonio’s focus now could be clearly on the longer term.

Win-loss projections

Spurs in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: Trading Dejounte Murray

The Murray deal signaled the Spurs are fully committed to a long-term rebuild. Murray, an All-Star last season who’s just entering his prime, was too good to stay on the Spurs’ roster if San Antonio was going to be bad enough to serve its best interests.

Since-waived Danilo Gallinari was the one player within the return from the Hawks, who also sent the Spurs a stockpile of draft capital, including three first-round picks. San Antonio now owns five extra first-round picks through 2028 — plus all of their very own — and can likely add to that total before the trade deadline in a Thunder-esque rebuild.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

Zach Collins. Make-or-break is a bit dramatic for any player on a team that is anticipated to complete at or near the underside of the standings, but Collins is definitely attempting to resuscitate his profession after injuries limited the previous lottery pick to 39 games over the past three seasons.

Collins, whose $7.7 million salary for 2023-24 is non-guaranteed, is just 24, so he could persuade the Spurs that he suits of their long-term vision. He played well down the stretch last season, averaging an efficient 10.9 points and 6.4 rebounds in 20.8 minutes in the ultimate 11 games.

Quote that may define their season:

“I probably shouldn’t say this, but I’ll say it anyway. What the hell? No one here should go to Vegas with the considered betting on us to win a championship. And I do know any individual will say, ‘Gosh, what a Debbie downer. There is a probability. What in the event that they work really hard?’ It’s probably not going to occur.” — Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, tongue planted firmly in cheek

Leave it to Pop to state the apparent with such a sarcastic humorousness. The Spurs haven’t any ambitions of adding to their championship trophy collection this season. But betting on the Spurs to win the lottery again — giving them the rights to draft a generational prospect in Victor Wembanyama — may not be a nasty idea.

— MacMahon

Once we last saw them … A disappointing first-round exit wrapped up a joyless season, and it convinced the Jazz’s brass to explode a perennial playoff team and start a rebuilding process.

Win-loss projections

Jazz in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: Trading Rudy Gobert

The Gobert trade, sending the franchise cornerstone to Minnesota for a package headlined by a haul of first-round picks, eliminated any doubt about whether the Jazz were able to rebuild. Whatever the signals the Jazz’s front office tried to send, it was only a matter of time before Donovan Mitchell could be moved too. Jazz CEO Danny Ainge and GM Justin Zanik ended up trading every starter except guard Mike Conley, accumulating a stockpile of first-round picks that Utah hopes might be the constructing blocks of a contender.

Those moves also make it extremely likely that the Jazz net a high lottery pick next 12 months because the league’s bottom tier prepares for the Victor Wembanyama sweepstakes.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

Malik Beasley. Beasley, who arrived within the Gobert deal, declared on media day that he’s “about to be an All-Star.” He must first prove he could be a quality, dependable starter. He’ll get that chance in Utah, however it would not be surprising if Beasley doesn’t spend a complete season with the Jazz. His $15.6 million salary could possibly be useful in a trade, and he essentially has an expiring contract with a $16.5 million team option for 2023-24. Beasley, 25, showed some promise during his six seasons in Denver and Minnesota, but his profession has been hampered by inconsistency and off-court issues.

Quote that may define their season:

“We just felt like once we checked out the roster that we had tapped out from a possible standpoint. We felt like we would have liked to go ahead and reset that.” — Jazz GM Justin Zanik

Well, the Jazz definitely completed that mission. Consequently, their fan base will deal with draft prospects Wembanyama and Scoot Henderson as much as Mike Conley, Jordan Clarkson, Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen or some other player who’s currently on the Jazz roster.

— MacMahon

Once we last saw them … Oklahoma City was completing its second 12 months of a deep rebuild, culminating in a 24-58 record — the Thunder’s worst since their inaugural season in OKC back in 2008-09.

Win-loss projections

Thunder in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: Drafting Chet Holmgren

We can’t see the No. 2 overall pick on the court this season after a tantalizing debut in summer league. While participating in a star-studded game on the CrawsOver Pro-Am in Seattle, Holmgren stepped improper and suffered a Lisfranc injury to his right foot that required season-ending surgery.

In the long run, Holmgren spending this campaign on the sidelines shouldn’t affect the outlook for his profession much. We have seen other top draft picks return from similar injuries that cost their first season to attain stardom, and Holmgren’s much-discussed thin frame puts less weight on his extremities than most 7-footers.

For now, injuries to Holmgren and Shai Gilgeous-Alexander (missing preseason resulting from an MCL sprain) increase the likelihood the Thunder add one other high lottery pick in June.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

Darius Bazley and Aleksej Pokusevski. One among the challenges of Oklahoma City’s stockpile of future draft picks is that the roster limit will squeeze Thunder players heading toward the conclusion of their rookie contracts.

Already, we have seen Oklahoma City jettison Theo Maledon, the No. 34 overall pick in 2020. Now it’s former first-rounders Bazley and Pokusevski who must justify their roster spots.

Bazley is entering the ultimate season of his rookie deal after starting 108 games the past two seasons. Coach Mark Daigneault has praised Bazley’s defense, but one other 12 months of sub-30% 3-point shooting would challenge hope for his ability to stretch the ground.

Still not yet 21, Pokusevski has an extended runway, and he improved his 2-point rate dramatically from 40% as a rookie to 50% in 12 months two. Still, Pokusevski’s erratic shot selection left him considered one of the league’s least efficient scorers (.485 true shooting percentage).

Quote that may define their season:

“I believe Chip is a very special talent and a special person. He, like anyone that is extremely expert, sees things for what they might be and never for what they’re. I believe he does a wonderful job of constructing relationships that allow people to enhance.” — Thunder general manager Sam Presti, on latest assistant coach Chip Engelland

After 17 seasons on the Spurs’ coaching staff, Engelland headed north up Interstate 35 to hitch the Thunder. Renowned for his work developing players as shooters in San Antonio, Engelland could possibly be an excellent fit for a team that likes to draft long athletes and develop their skill level.

The list of successful Spurs development projects, headlined by Kawhi Leonard, is NBA legend. In recent times, nonetheless, San Antonio prospects have not made the identical form of shooting leaps.

— Pelton

Once we last saw them … The Rockets were remarkably pleased after ending the season with a seven-game losing streak, locking up one of the best lottery odds. That is primarily because Jalen Green, their prize from the previous lottery, looked like a blossoming star while scoring not less than 30 points in six of those games. The rebuild enters 12 months three, now with No. 3 overall pick Jabari Smith Jr. joining Houston’s young and unproven core.

Win-loss projections

Rockets in NBArank

Most impactful offseason move: Trading Christian Wood

The Rockets pounced once a team offered a first-round pick for Wood, moving him to the Mavericks for No. 26 overall and roster flotsam. The most important profit from the deal was opening up the starting center job for Alperen Sengun, who showed significant promise as a rookie last season, averaging 12.1 points, 8.2 rebounds and three.6 assists in 13 starts.

The Rockets aren’t certain Sengun projects as a long-term starter resulting from his defensive limitations, but they’re longing for him to have the chance to prove himself in that role. Sengun is a talented, creative low-post scorer and facilitator whom Houston considers a core player for the longer term. His development is considered one of the Rockets’ top priorities.

2022-23 is a make-or-break season for …

Kevin Porter Jr. If he doesn’t conform to a rookie extension before Monday’s deadline, Porter will play out his contract 12 months while continuing to attempt to prove he’s a long-term solution as a start line guard. He’s still going through growing pains on the position, and there are questions on whether he might be a great enough decision-maker to quarterback a team. Porter has shown flashes of brilliance, and he improved significantly as a defender and a catch-and-shoot threat last season.

Nonetheless, his offended halftime departure during a January loss served as a harsh reminder of the concerns regarding Porter’s reliability, which is why the Rockets were capable of acquire him from the Cavaliers for essentially nothing. Porter made repeated references to “my mistakes” during media day and declared he’s in “a good looking space” entering the season, no matter his contract status.

Quote that may define their season:

“There needs to be a level of improvement. Having some level of patience, obviously, but there needs to be regular and marked improvement because the season goes along.” — Rockets coach Stephen Silas

Rockets general manager Rafael Stone has made it clear he won’t necessarily measure success this season by whether the Rockets shoot up the standings after Houston had the worst record within the league the past two campaigns. A high lottery pick in what’s perceived to be a star-laden draft would definitely be useful within the rebuild. But Houston desires to make strides in other indicators of improvement, especially regarding the person development of young players, which gets stunted if a team is consistently on the improper end of routs.

— MacMahon

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