Alright folks, this is it. Starting Tuesday, the NBA season is back, and for real this time. No more fake games, no more waiting, the real thing is back and the games will count. In what should be another incredible NBA season, you could make the case for 8-10 teams when it comes to who will eventually reach the top of the mountain. The talent in the league is so deep that even lottery bound teams will be fun to watch. Even teams that are currently in the middle of a rebuild will be worth your time on League Pass. It feels like every season there are more and more reasons to get excited about what's on the horizon and 2022-23 is no different.
That's why I decided to break this out and give you at least one reason to be excited to watch every single team in the league. Was this necessary? That depends, is anything in life truly necessary? There's simply too much excitement flowing through my veins right now to not do this, so let's dive in.
Let me ask you this. Which version of the Hawks are for real? Is it the version that made the ECF just two seasons ago, or is it the version we saw last year that still had a ton of defensive issues and found itself in the play in? This is a great season to find an answer to that question after the offseason that they had. While they may have lost some shooting in Kevin Huerter, the bigger news is clearly the addition of Dejounte Murray.
I'm fascinated to see what this does to the Hawks' biggest issue, which is their perimeter defense. I can't wait to see how Dejounte/Trae play off each other, because I would assume Trae is now going to be moving off the ball more, and that's not really something we've seen during his Hawks tenure. The ball is always in his hands.
In a sense, this is a prove it type year for the Hawks. They have the talent, they addressed a glaring weakness, and now it's time to see how for real they truly are.
OK, I shouldn't really have to explain why I am excited to watch the Celtics season. It's basically one of the most important Celts seasons of my entire life. But if I had to pick one thing I really can't wait to see? The answer is Jaylen Brown. Everything we've seen from him in the preseason tells us that we are about to experience a MONSTER season. It started in his comments on Media Day
and continued right into the fake games
Considering he also has hundreds of millions of dollars on the line if he makes All NBA, something tells me we're about to get the best version of Jaylen we've ever seen
Are the Nets dramatic? Hell yeah they are. But admit it, you're kind of intrigued to see what they look like when the games count and the trio of Simmons/Kyrie/KD are on the floor together. It could work, it could be a complete disaster, nobody knows. How will all the drama from the summer carry over?
But here's what I do know. Watching Kevin Durant play basketball is fun as hell. A guy who is showing no signs of being impacted by his achilles injury, tuning in to see a generational scorer do his thing should be enough even if you don't factor in all the drama that's going to surround this team all year.
For a team that had title expectations, the second Kyrie/KD paired up to having a total of zero (0) ECF appearances. The pressure is absolutely on this team to finally deliver.
Alright, this is going to be a little tricky. I watched way too much Hornets preseason basketball, and I can't lie to you and tell you that things look great right now. There was all the drama with Miles Bridges earlier this summer. James Bouknight looks like he just got arrested. They look like a team destined to be in the Wembanyama sweepstakes. So why should you be excited to watch them this year?
Well, after he recovers from his sprained ankle, LaMelo is pretty must watch
Maybe I'm just a sucker for elite passing, but when LaMelo is healthy and on the floor, you probably shouldn't look away. He's electric and basically the only positive things going on right now with the Hornets.
It sucks that Lonzo Ball's knee is still fucked. Given that injuries played a huge role in how the Bulls season finished last year, you hate to see this season already be impacted by injuries. So why should Bulls fans still See Red this year? For me, it's what this means for Ayo Donsunmu. I love this dude. The Bulls announced that he's going to be taking over the starting point guard duties as Lonzo recovers, and I can't wait to see it
His shot is coming around, he's an electric player and seeing as he's a local kid you know he's already a fan favorite. It would not shock me one bit if we get to next summer and Ayo ends up winning the MIP award. This is a kid who shot 52/37% as a rookie last year in about 27 minutes a game (40 starts). I love his size and I'm intrigued to see how he does with more of an on ball role. We know what LaVine and DeMar are going to do. The potential for an Ayo breakout year is truly what intrigues me about this Bulls season.
Listen, you make a blockbuster trade for Donovan Mitchell, that's basically all we need to say. There's potential for the Cavs to have one of the most elite backcourt in the entire league, and with that comes legit expectations. They were the fun surprise team last year, but when you make a "win now" trade like they did this summer, you have to come through and show immediate results. They have a 2 year window before Mitchell has to worry about free agency,
Where they really struggled last year is having any sort of shot creation outside of Darius Garland. We saw in the playoffs what that did to the team when he was the only one who could consistently create his own shot. Now they are adding this
to the rotation. I'm thinking that's going to make quite an impact. Can't wait to see it.
Luka. It's always going to be Luka. We can move on
This could very well be Luka's first MVP season. The talent is there. The narrative is there. The team success should in theory be there. Again, I don't think I have to convince you to watch Luka. He's been must watch since he entered the league.
After a full season of watching Jokic carry the entire franchise on his back and will multiple MVPs, what I'm most excited to see if a Nuggets team with their #2 and #3 options back on the floor. The fact that the Nuggets were able to be as good as they were despite all that talent missing was impressive enough, but now that everyone is back and 100% healthy there's no reason this team shouldn't be a contender.
This Nuggets roster is deep, they're experienced, and they have elite top end talent. You combine all those things and you usually get a contender. While I think Jokic will have to face some voter fatigue for MVP, the additions of Murray & MPJ after a year long wait are truly what excites me about their season. It'll be a nice reminder for everyone how good the Nuggets actually can be when they have their guys.
Maybe you're excited to see Year 2 of Cade. I could understand that. There are a lot of reasons why people are hyping up the Pistons a little bit this season, and for me I think I'm most excited to see how Jaden Ivey fits. He's been awesome to watch this preseason
and he's my pick for ROY. I think the Pistons make a jump, and Ivey makes an impact immediately. There's a chance he ends up being the best overall player from the Draft, and I think we're about to see the initial stages of these young Pistons make their way to becoming a play in team at worst.
Golden State Warriors
Whatever. Steph exists. Wash, rinse, repeat.
but if I could cheat and give a second reasons the Warriors will be interesting to watch it's obviously all the Draymond drama. How that impacts their season will be fascinating to watch. We don't need to overthink things though. Late Night Steph is one of the most electric players in the league. You know you should be sleeping but you can't stop watching him unleash 40 footers. It's always fun, even if it's happening against your favorite team.
I want to go a little different of a route with the Rockets. Jalen Green and Kevin Porter Jr might get all the hype. Maybe even some Jalen Smith love. But you know what I'm most excited to see? I want to see Alperen Şengün's Year 2. Now that he has a much clearer path to the floor, this should be a breakout year for him
Despite being a teenager, you could make the case that Sengun is already one of the better passing bigs in the entire league. His vision and touch are legit. He has this old school style to his game that's a bit of a throwback, but I feel like this could be the year a whole lot more people know who this dude is. Jalen Green is going to give you the highlight dunks. Kevin Porter Jr is going to score a shit ton too. But Sengun could be that glue guy that you look down and all of a sudden he has like 12/8/6 and you aren't really sure how or when that happened.
The Pacers are going to stink. Well, they're going to try and stink as badly as possible so they can be in the Wembanyama sweepstakes. Tanking teams are always tough when you're looking for a reason to watch, so for me that reason is Tyrese Haliburton. This was a dude who was great the second he came over from the Kings
and now that Brogdon is gone there's no reason why Haliburton shouldn't lead this team in FGA. He's my official pick for MIP, and while it's probably going to suck for Pacers fans to watch them lose all the time, Haliburton is that sliver of light at the end of this tanking tunnel. He's legit, and he's only getting better.
Los Angeles Clippers
Much like the Nuggets, I just want to see what this team looks like healthy. They have the deepest roster in the league and it's not even all that close. The only thing that's realistically holding this team back from a deep run is health. I think many may have forgotten how good Kawhi/PG13 are
so as basketball fans we're all winners now that they are both healthy and back on the court. When you're talking about All NBA caliber players, that's a pretty big deal.
Los Angeles Lakers
I won't sit here and lie to you and tell you that I'm excited to watch the Lakers. Fuck the Lakers as far as I'm concerned. So what am I excited about heading into the season? That there will be plenty of content for my fellow coworker Pat Bev to discuss on his show. Make sure you subscribe right this second
The interesting part about the Grizzlies last season wasn't just that Ja took a leap. It's how fucking good they were even in the games he didn't play. This was a team that talked a whole lot of shit all year, and then backed it up for the most part. So while I'm excited to see Ja on the floor doing crazy Ja shit, I'm more intrigued with how the Grizzlies respond to a year where the expectations clearly change.
They sort of snuck up on the league last year. Those days are over. How teams handle that change in expectations ultimately determines their season. The Grizzlies in a sense are going from the hunter to the hunted. How they navigate that is going to be amazing to watch.
But also Ja. Ja rules.
The Heat are a team that made no big time signings this offseason to improve their roster. All they did was lose PJ Tucker. They are essentially running it back with some questions at the 4 spot. We know Jimmy Butler is going to be awesome, we know Tyler Herro will get his with the second unit, so what am I excited to see this year?
I'm going with Bam. More specifically, Bam taking threes. For years its felt like Heat fans have been begging Bam to develop his offensive arsenal and actually be aggressive, and so far this preseason we've seen him make a more conscious effort to take (and make) 3PA. I am very interested to see if that carries over to the games that count and how it might impact the Heat's offense. Right now, you don't really have to worry about Bam around the rim and in P&R. If he is able to add a consistent-ish outside shot? That's going to be pretty massive.
News broke today that Khris Middleton is going to miss a few weeks due to his wrist injury. Pat Connaughton is already banged up too. There's no need to overthink this just like there wasn't a need for the Mavs. The answer is and will always be Giannis. Plain and simple
Depending on who you ask, you could say the Wolves mortgaged their future for Rudy Gobert. I can understand why they did it as he for sure helps them in their biggest area of weakness, but it better work out. So while players like KAT and Anthony Edwards are exciting and are probably going to have huge years, what I'm most excited for is to see the Gobert fit, and if any of their previous issues still exist now that he's on the roster.
I do think the Wolves have decent enough perimeter defenders to where if you're also adding KAT to the backline, the Wolves defense can make that jump into the top 10. When you do that, we usually see teams take a similar leap up the standings and out of the Play In.
New Orleans Pelicans
It's hard to find a team who is getting more preseason hype than the Pelicans. The way they closed last season, the internet development and improvement, everything points to a huge year this season. That's why maybe you might be thinking I'm going with the return of Zion here, but I'm not.
Instead, I can't wait to see Year 2 of Herb Jobes
I LOVE Herb Jones. Maybe it's because I love lock down defenders, but this is a kid who from Day 1 was playing All NBA level defense. I can't wait to see what his Year 2 jump looks like on both ends, but this will probably be the first of many All NBA Defensive Team seasons for Jones. Everyone who watches the Pelicans know that if they are going to take that next step, they have to figure out their defense. Herb is going to lead that charge and it's going to be awesome to watch.
New York Knicks
No need to overthink this team either. I am very intrigued to see how this team looks with a real floor general in Jalen Brunson. I thought the Knicks were smart to not overpay for Mitchell, and the deal they paid Brunson was basically market value, so it wasn't a case of the Knicks being the same old Knicks. Having an elite P&R playmaker on this roster is going to open up things for everyone,
The Knicks have needed a legit starting point guard for what feels like forever, and they finally have one in Brunson. Add in leaps from RJ and Quickley if you want, but I can't wait to see what Brunson looks like with the keys and this new role.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Another team where tanking is going to make this a tough ass season to watch, but there is still a ton of awesome young talent on this roster that should make it worth your time. Maybe you're pumped that SGA is back and healthy considering he's pretty fucking good. For me, it starts with Josh Giddey. I'm expecting a huge Year 2 leap for a guy that had himself a damn good rookie season
We know he has elite vision and passing skills, so now I'm interested in seeing if his efficiency can get any better now that he has some experience under his belt. You forget this kid is only 20 years old because he most certainly didn't play last year like a teenager.
The losses might reach astronomical numbers, but I'm guessing so will the awesome Josh Giddey highlights. The kid is the real deal.
The Magic to me feel like a team that may be a year away from taking their first jump as a rebuilding team. There's a lot of intriguing young talent on that roster, especially at the guard and big positions. Paolo will probably get a lot of the hype as a guy who many think will win ROY, but my interest in the Magic goes to another guy. Jalen Suggs
Last year was a little up and down as a rookie, and once he's back and healthy I think we could see a much different player in Year 2. I think having Paolo and an even better Franz Wagner will help, but there was a reason this kid was talked about as one of the best guards in his Draft class. I'm excited to see what that development looks like, because with Fults and Cole Anthony both on the roster, someone is going to have to stand out. I want to see if it ends up being Suggs.
The Sixers are another team that on paper addressed a lot of their roster needs. We're hearing that James Harden is healthy and in shape. Tyrese Maxey is poised to take a leap. So what would excite me most about watching the Sixers? It has to be Embiid. Look, I don't have to like PHI but I do have eyes. I can see a dominant player when it's staring at me in the face, and Joel Embiid is the very definition of dominant
If he was able to be on the floor more, he'd have won the MVP. I'm interested to see what a motive Embiid looks like after he once again got "snubbed" for the MVP. A lot fo their team shit won't really matter until we get to the postseason, so the interest in watching them during the year will obviously be to see Embiid dominate people (which he does, outside of Al Horford. Look it up).
Despite their big time choke in the playoffs, the Suns have been a well oiled machine since the Bubble. Many call them the best team in basketball, mostly because they would go months at a time without losing multiple games. They didn't win all those games by accident, and I don't really expect much to change.
So what excites me about them? Mostly their overall style. I love how they play. The defense, the ball movement, it's beautiful to watch and in some ways sets the standard in the league. They play the right way and they do it every single night. To me, that's always worth my time to watch.
Portland Trail Blazers
Dame's back. Enough said
Sooner or later, the Kings are going to end their playoff drought. Maybe with the Mariners doing the same, now is the Kings time. I'm excited to see Keegan Murray, I want to see what a full year with Sabonis looks like, but overall my excitement about the Kings is mostly just wishful thinking that this is the year it finally happens.
I want to be able to say I watched their season if it does. It most likely won't, but there's always a chance.
San Antonio Spurs
Alright, this one might have me stumped. Maybe Keldon Johnson? Maybe the leap for Devin Vassell? I dunno, this shit is pretty brutal.
After seeing this team up close twice this preseason, my choice is pretty chalk. I'm tuning in to see the leap year from Scottie Barnes
he's just such a massive human my brain can't really comprehend how he's able to move like does. He can guard 1-4 pretty easily, and for me it all comes down to that jumper. If it shows signs of improvement, watch the fuck out. We know what to expect from FVV, Siakam, OG etc. To me, Barnes is the wild card. If he's awesome, the Raptors are going to be better than people think.
Alright, same thing here as with the Spurs. I guess the excitement can be how will Danny Ainge nagivate the year to ensure they lose every game they play? There are still some good players on this roster, so maybe the question is how long before Ainge accepts 50 cents on the dollar just to unload them.
The Wizards might find themselves in that NBA Purgatory which is the worst place in the world to be, but I'm excited to see a healthy Beal/Porzingis pairing. Maybe this is because I just listened to Bradley Beal on JJ Redick's podcast, but the way he was talking about that duo has my interest
Sadly it probably won't be enough to get them into the Top 6 or anything, but a Beal/Porzingis duo has the potential to be an entertaining watch.
Alright, there ya go. Now get me to tomorrow night immediately.