It's that magical time of year for sports fans. The NFL and NHL are underway, while the MLB is in its postseason. And here comes the NBA. Last years champs, the Golden State Warriors, opened the season with a home ceremonial win over LeBron and the Lakers. While the title runner-up Celtics, my Celtics, continued their dominance over Embiid and the Sixers. With many changes across the league, let's take a quick look at every team in The Association.
1. Atlanta Hawks
Will the addition of Dejounte Murray help the Hawks return to their 2020 playoff form? Trae Young will gladly take the perimeter help Murray provides, especially on the defensive end. Let's see how long it takes for the two ball-dominant gaurds to gel. Hopes are high in the ATL.
2. Boston Celtics
The scandalous C's look to bounce back from their loss in the NBA Finals last year. The addition of Malcolm Brogdon seems to be a perfect fit after their season-opening win against Philadelphia. However, Joe Mazzulla, the interim head coach after the suspension of Ime Udoka, has the unenviable task of leading a drama-riddled Boston squad to the next level of growth. On the court, all is well at the moment.
3. Brooklyn Nets
How will the often spoken about Nets respond to a first round sweep at the hand of division rival Boston? We will see. Kyrie and Durant are still on the roster after an off-season of demands and the front office remains unchanged as well. Ben Simmons will finally take the court from last year's trade with Philly. The addition of T.J. Warren should be an interesting watch as the season progresses. Time for the Brooklyn Big 3 to respond to the critics.
4. Charlotte Hornets
The Hornets had all the buzz they can handle this off-season. Off the court legal issues with Bridges and Bouknight have Charlotte starting the season less than favorably. Gordon Hayward will need to stay healthy to help Ball and company take the next step and finally win a playoff series. Fun announcers wont be enough to make up for missing the playoffs. This is an important year of development for MJ's crew.
5. Chicago Bulls
The Lonzo Ball injury is a big blow to a well-balanced roster. Chicago came up short last year in the playoffs and looked overwhelmed by the recent champion Bucks. This Bulls roster can do a little bit of everything. However, they struggle to create easy baskets in a halfcourt set. Derozan did everything he could to carry the workload, but if this team is to make a leap it will have to be through Lavine. Let's see if he can breakout this year.
6. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Land has expectations for a non-LeBron team for the first time since losing to MJ on that epic jumper from the free throw line. The Cavs were able to add star Donovan Mitchell without compromising their core roster. The youth of this squad is well-developed and ahead of schedule. This could easily be a top four record in a crowded East.
7. Dallas Mavericks
In comes Dinwiddie and Wood, out goes Brunson. Luka will be Luka, we know that. How will the loss of Brunson to New York impact this overachieving Mavs team? Spencer Dinwiddie is a great replacement in minutes for JB, but this Mavs team is heavily dependent on Doncic and is going to need to be more versatile if they're going to upend Steph and company out west.
8. Denver Nuggets
This one is all about health. We've seen how amazing Joker can be, but we've also seen his inability to lead the Nuggets on his own. A returning Murray should be enough to keep Jokic happy, as the two looked dangerous in the bubble during the Covid season. If Michael Porter Jr. can stay healthy as well, this team can look to rise to the next level.
9. Detroit Pistons
Here is a team littered with potential. From Cunningham to Ivey, to Bey and Stewart, Mo-town has something to get excited about. The Pistons wont be title contenders by season's end, but there is a chance for a play-in spot. Detroit's opening season battle against Orlando showcased just how fun this team can be.
10. Golden State Warriors
The highlight here is in the locker room. We all know about Draymond's cheap shot on Jordan Poole in practice. How will the defending champs respond to this drama? On the court they looked just a smooth as ever vs the Lake Show. Steph's quiet leadership should be enough to keep the focus on the court, but we cannot ignore the potential of Draymond Green trade if things go south. Poole and Wiggins extensions show the league that those two young pieces are here to stay well beyond the era of the Splash Bros. For now, business as usual for the champs.
11. Houston Rockets
This year will be all about chemistry. This Rockets team is highly athletic, led by Jalen Green and incoming rookie Jabari Smith Jr. Smith's slight drop in the draft should be a motivator for his game, while Green will look to build on a solid rookie campaign. Expectations are low for Houston fans, but the season should still have its fair share of highlights.
12. Indiana Pacers
Enter tankathon. The Pacers have talent on the roster despite much turnover in recent years. Mathurin, Haliburton, Duarte, Turner, and Hield are a solid bunch that can make winning possible. However, if Indiana chooses to tank for Victor Wembanyama, expect Turner and Hield to draw trade attention. Time will tell in Indy.
13. Los Angeles Clippers
Let us have the same conversation we've had for years. Will Kawhi and PG be on the court come playoff time in LA? So far the answer has been no. This Clippers team has the talent and discipline to make the 2023 playoffs, but expectations are much higher than that. Its title or bust for a Clippers franchise who has never even sniffed the Finals.
14. Los Angeles Lakers
Where to begin. It's the same story again for the other LA franchise. Can LeBron carry the Lakers? Can AD stay healthy? Will the Lakers trade Russ? Do they have the shooting to compliment James? Darvin Ham has his hands full in his first year as head coach. I wont go on and on about LA, media will do that daily for you.