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Old 10-17-2022, 07:07 PM   #1
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NBA 2022-23 Thread

Opening night is 24 hours away and the previous thread is nearly at 1000, so it is time for a new thread for a new season.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

24. Finally, as I ask every year - which draftees do you expect to have the best rookie years?
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Old 10-17-2022, 07:36 PM   #2
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Old 10-17-2022, 08:22 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by namkcuR View Post
Opening night is 24 hours away and the previous thread is nearly at 1000, so it is time for a new thread for a new season.



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



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


You are doing god’s work, sir



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


Murray is a bigger get than you’re givinh him credit for. He fits perfectly next to Trae.



Atlanta has tradable assets and could get in on the next star to become available (KD?)… but even with what they have now they should be better than last year



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


It wasn't a fluke, but It's hard to do again. Loss of Williams is huge. Gallo also likely won’t play all season.



Brogdan is a big pickup but he has his own injury history.



How will Brown respond to being mentioned in trade talks for KD all summer?



And we haven’t even mentioned the coaching situation yet.



Despite all that I think they’ll be a top 4 seed and compete again for a trip to the finals. Good team.



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


They could win the title.



They could miss the playoffs.



Neither would shock me at all.



Kyrie will be on his best behavior because he wants another contract. Simmons doesn’t need to shoot to make an impact. They were the one seed despite missing Kyrie for most of the season until KD got hurt.



It would be bad to sleep on them. I lean more towards title contenders than out of the playoffs.



Kyrie always a wild card to implode tho



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


They were my sleeper team to win the east last year, and that looked good until everyone started getting hurt.



They’re still hurt.



I see some regression.



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


Chicago was my dark horse to win the east last year. Cleveland is my dark horse this year.



The bigs need to stay healthy, but they are a very good team.



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


I think they’ll be around where they were last year. Doncic could win an MVP this year if they show any improvement. Don’t see them winning the west though.



I also don’t see Luka asking out anytime soon.



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


Denver is the biggest threat to take down Golden State and win the west. They are loaded.



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


I got to see Wiseman up close and personal in Japan. I left laughing. Unfair that the defending champs can just add a guy like that to the roster. Obviously he needs to stay healthy but he is exactly what they’re missing, and they weren’t missing much. Tantalizing talent. Imagine Golden State adding Ayton. That might be what they have in Wiseman.



The Draymond thing Is overblown. Yes, they should have suspended him. But he’s not going to cause any issues. Their chemistry is just fine.



Poole’s contract is interesting. They didn’t necessarily sign him to an extension because they plan on keeping him. Remember – they signed Dangelo Russell to a big extension also. This might be that.



Think Poole would look good in black and white?



If GSW is healthy come playoff time they win the title again. They should be better this year than they were last year.



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


Incredible depth and certainly capable of knocking off GSW on paper.



I just can’t believe it’ll happen because these guys never stay healthy.



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


Finally… WE’RE TALKING LAKERS.



In all honesty? This team sucks. They did little to improve, the parts they added are redundant to what they already had, and nobody wants Russ unless you attach 2 firsts to the deal.



They have two ways out of this. #1? Trade LeBron.



Okay, that’s never happening.



So it’s #2… DON’T trade Russ. Embrace the suck. Get a high pick and let Russ’s gigantic contract expire, giving you cap space and a chance at Wemby or Scoop.



But it’s the Lakers. They’ll probably trade Russ to Indiana for Turner and Heild. Because they’re dumb.



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


Not a fluke. Crazy deep team, but probably needs one more star to be able to compete for the west.



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


Everyone always sleeps on Miami and Miami always competes. I do think they’ve taken a small step back, but the Godfather knows best. They’ll be in the top 4.



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


Removing the Brooklyn enigma for a sec, they’re the most likely team to come out of the east if they’re all healthy. Concerns over Middleton though.



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


The trade will probably look good in the short term and look disasterous long term. Gobert will break down within a few years, Kat will ask out and those picks Utah gets will be choice.



But they might get a top 4 finish out of it, but no real threat to win a title.



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


Intriguing team – but much like the Clippers I need to see Zion stay healthy to believe it. He’s an unworldly talent – but he can’t stay healthy.



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


They top out at a 5 seed and bottom out as a play in team. But they have some interesting pieces and could be players if an unexpected star pops free.



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

Should be able to get out to a decent start with many teams on east banged up (Boston, Milwaukee).

It all rests on Harden, and the hope that he truly was just fat and out of shape and isn’t toast.

If they can’t get to the finals this year they should blow it up.





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



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

They’re a big fat meh.



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

They’re secone tier in the east – playoff team for sure, but not quite there with the big boys. But if Barnes continues to improve? It won’t be long until they’re contenders again.



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






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



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



Will any of these teams exceed expectations and be a surprise like last season’s Cavs? Will any of them make the playoffs or even the play-in?
Banchero will win rookie of the year in a landslide. Orlando could surprise people and compete for the play in.

Detroit is eh, ok. Bright future but not there yet. OKC could be ok. Everyone else there are pretty blah.



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23. Carmelo Anthony and LaMarcus Aldridge are, as of yet, unsigned. Are they done, or will they go ring-chasing later in the season?
Melo yes, Aldridge no.



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


Banchero is a stud.
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Old 10-18-2022, 09:45 AM   #4
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MVP: Luca Doncic
ROTY: Paulo Banchero
DPOTY: Giannis Antetokounmpo
MIP: James Wiseman
6th Man: Bones Hyland
COTY: Mike Malone

East

1. Philadelphia
2. Brooklyn
3. Milwaukee
4. Boston
5. Cleveland
6. Miami
7. Atlanta
8. Toronto
9. New York
10. Chicago
11. Orlando
12. Washington
13. Charlotte
14. Indiana
15. Detroit


it's absurd how good the East has gotten in short order. Nobody's talking about just taking the top 16 teams from any conference anymore, that's for sure.

the number one sign of how good the east has gotten is that I have Toronto as the 8 seed. Just 3-4 years ago a team as good as they are were an easy 4 or 5 seed.

1 through 5 are fairly locked in. I give Philly the edge on the 1 seed because they're healthy going into the season. The only team of these top 5 i could see dropping out of the top 5 is Brooklyn - if they implode. But i think you're going to get a good Kyrie this year because, talk as much as he may, he wants to get paid - and he needs to have a good season this year in order to get paid what he thinks he deserves.

Miami/Atlanta/Toronto? shuffle them around anyway you'd like. I think Atlanta is the best team of the group... but Miami just always finds a way, so i put them on the top of this list. X factor here is Barnes. i expect him to be better - but if he somehow makes a huge jump then Toronto could move to the top of this list (and possibly squeeze into that top 5). huge jumps like that are typically in year 3 or 5 though, not year 2.

the knicks are kinda locked in as the 9 seed. that's about all i have to say about them.

10 through 15 is a coin toss. can the Wizards get the 10 seed? yes. can they have a bunch of injuries and end up 14/15? yep. would i prefer 14/15 and a shot at Wemby? you bet'cha.

same goes for everyone else. i think Orlando makes a jump. Indiana is a sneaky playoff contender - specifically if they get an early season trade for Westbrook. A pissed off Russ on a team where he can do whatever he wants is someone who can drag a mediocre team into the play-in tournament.

Chicago SHOULD be a lock for the play in tourney - but they're one injury away from a slide. they need to get healthy.

would it shock me if Detroit makes a big jump and Orlando ends up at the bottom? i don't expect it, but no, it wouldn't shock me.


1. Golden State
2. Denver
3. Memphis
4. LA Clippers
5. Dallas
6. Phoenix
7. Minnesota
8. New Orleans
9. Portland
10. Sacramento
11. Lakers
12. Thunder
13. Houston
14. Utah
15. San Antonio

Holy top heavy, Batman.

I think there's a clear top 2 in Golden State and Denver, with Memphis and the Clippers nipping on their heels. If LA can actually stay healthy then they are right there with Golden State and Denver, buuuuuuut... yea, I just can't see it. If it was only one guy? Sure. They need, like, 3 or 4 guys who get hurt all the time to stay healthy. Odds just are not in their favor. Their aim should be to be healthy heading into the playoffs and should do everything in their power to make sure that happens... that means sacrificing a bit in the regular season.

Minnesota or New Orleans could find themselves pushing in on Phoenix and Dallas.

Then there's Portland, who are a team.

After that... holy fuck is there a gigantic drop off. The Lakers may make the play in tournament by default. I think Sacramento's roster is better so I'm putting them in there first... but, ya know, they're Sacramento.

If the Lakers trade Russ for Turner and Heild, they make the play in. They could even sneak into a 9 or 8 seed. If they hold on to Russ (which long term is the smarter play)? they're out.

I actually like the pieces Utah has left and think they have a better modern day nba roster than the Lakers as well - but Utah is actively trying to lose, so I would expect Clarkson and the like to be traded the second they start overachieving.

those teams at the bottom all suck. OKC might make a small jump - but again, they might trade SGA away the second they start to overachieve. it's Wemby or bust in the West.

NBA Finals: Golden State over Milwaukee.
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Old 10-18-2022, 04:26 PM   #5
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Nice work Ruckman. I like reading these every year and Headaches responses.

I’m honestly kinda depressed about the Jazz this season. Tank for Wembanyama I guess. I’m gonna try and just follow the league as a whole more, maybe jump on the Bucks bandwagon. The East is stacked.
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Old 10-18-2022, 05:32 PM   #6
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and you have to wonder if Mikal Bridges will be at all affected mentally by what's going on with his brother.
Do you...do you think Mikal Bridges and Miles Bridges are brothers??
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Old 10-18-2022, 06:06 PM   #7
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Do you...do you think Mikal Bridges and Miles Bridges are brothers??
Maybe he was wondering if Mikal is worried about Jeff's health. The Dude has had a rough couple of years.
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Old 10-18-2022, 07:21 PM   #8
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That's a bridge too far
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Old 10-18-2022, 09:47 PM   #9
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Leon Bridges is just fine.
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Old 10-19-2022, 12:45 AM   #10
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Ha Lakers look old and tired and its only game 1
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Old 10-19-2022, 03:29 AM   #11
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Do you...do you think Mikal Bridges and Miles Bridges are brothers??
Ha, I genuinely did, yeah, seeing as they have the same name and were taken in the same draft. I just assumed. My bad.
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Old 10-19-2022, 07:28 AM   #12
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Ha Lakers look old and tired and its only game 1
We're talking Lakers!
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Old 10-19-2022, 07:42 AM   #13
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Ha Lakers look old and tired and its only game 1
Lord is the back half of that roster complete dog shit.
Not a real NBA player amongst them.
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Old 10-19-2022, 07:49 AM   #14
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East

1. Philadelphia
. I give Philly the edge on the 1 seed because they're healthy going into the season. .
It's only a one game sample, but that team looks like they have an effort problem. You got as much as one could expect from Harden last night, but they couldn't compete in the 2nd half.
Outscored 24-2 on fast breaks. Maybe it's just rust and Embiid had too much Chick-fil-A and Mountain Dew pregame, but there was a distinct lack of hustle in every player in white not named Maxey last night.
And their bench is dog shit also. Not Great Dane sized dog shit like the Lakers, but Labrador retriever sized dog shit.
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Old 10-19-2022, 08:55 AM   #15
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DaveC, not sure if you felt the same way a few years back, but it's so nice going into a season even over a year removed from a title. Like yeah, I want the Bucks to win it all, but I'm really just enjoying the ride and don't feel as much pressure.

Thankfully, my favorite sports figure of all time probably feels different.
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Old 10-19-2022, 10:02 AM   #16
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DaveC, not sure if you felt the same way a few years back, but it's so nice going into a season even over a year removed from a title.
i dunno if it feels the same, did giannis sign with LA a week after winning that championship?
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Old 10-19-2022, 10:05 AM   #17
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Thankfully, my favorite sports figure of all time probably feels different.
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Old 10-19-2022, 10:18 AM   #18
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i dunno if it feels the same, did giannis sign with LA a week after winning that championship?
Oh shit, I suppose.
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Old 10-19-2022, 10:18 AM   #19
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Haha fuck no. 30 years of great QB play but both are shit heads.
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Old 10-19-2022, 01:24 PM   #20
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It's only a one game sample, but that team looks like they have an effort problem. You got as much as one could expect from Harden last night, but they couldn't compete in the 2nd half.
Outscored 24-2 on fast breaks. Maybe it's just rust and Embiid had too much Chick-fil-A and Mountain Dew pregame, but there was a distinct lack of hustle in every player in white not named Maxey last night.
And their bench is dog shit also. Not Great Dane sized dog shit like the Lakers, but Labrador retriever sized dog shit.
last night was weird.

in the first quarter it's almost as if the refs forgot that they stopped calling every cheap foul last year and were letting guys play. the commish must have been on the phone at half time. that first quarter took like half an hour.

i still think philly has the potential to have a monster regular season - but i can't see them winning the east largely due to what we saw last night.

the league has changed soooooo much in such a short amount of time. pace, space, shooting, defensive versatility. if you don't have that, you're not winning shit.

philly and the lakers are built for the old NBA. philly has better, younger, deeper talent... so it should still work in the regular season.

the lakers? maaaaaan... lebron was already throwing passive aggressive hints at management last night that the roster sucks. it took one game lol

what they do will be fascinating. sure - you could trade Russ for Heild and Turner, but you're not winning shit with them, either. you'd just guarantee yourself a spot in the playoffs. plus you'd be sacrificing your future by giving up those picks.

the smart move is to hold russ, let his contract expire and try to restock next year with that mountain of cap space- but that doesn't match lebron's timeline.
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