A Dive Into the 2022-23 NBA Season and What to Watch For 

Calvin Lymper '25, Staff Writer

Pictured above: The Golden State Warriors celebrating their 2022 NBA Championship victory (pictured from Forbes)

The 2022-23 NBA season arrived quickly, tipping off on October 18th with two marquee matchups between the Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics, and the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors. The Celtics and Warriors were looking to defend their respective conference finals, but more importantly, the Warriors wanted to defend their 2022 NBA championship title. Four-time champion Stephen Curry, coming off a season where he finally beat the all-time three-point field goals record, looked to continue his dominance over the NBA alongside his long-time teammates Klay Thompson and Draymond Green. Warriors fans were also looking forward to the return of center James Wiseman, the former 2020 2nd overall NBA draft pick, who missed the end of his rookie season and the entirety of his second season due to injury. The Warriors remained highly successful, even without Wiseman, which leads many NBA fans to fear what the Warriors’ full potential could be with Wiseman playing.

The 2022 NBA free agency began in the early summer with the signing of rising star guard Jalen Brunson to the New York Knicks. Brunson was a crucial piece of the Dallas Mavericks’ deep playoff run to the Western Conference Finals last year, averaging “21.6 points, 4.6 rebounds, and 3.7 assists while shooting 46.6% from the field” in the playoffs, according to ClutchPoints. Now, Brunson leads a young Knicks team, with other young stars like guard RJ Barrett, forwards Julius Randle and Obi Toppin, and center Mitchell Robinson.

Besides Brunson’s move, the 2022 offseason was headlined by various trades involving big names. The first of these trades was  a trade between two Texas teams, the Mavericks and Houston Rockets, specifically regarding the Rockets’ diamond-in-the-rough forward Christian Wood, who was sent to the Mavericks for various Mavericks role players. Wood has improved his game after signing with the Rockets in 2020, averaging around 19 points a game and 9.9 rebounds a game, as well as an above-average 3-point shot percentage. Wood joined potential future MVP Luka Doncic in Dallas in the quest to win a championship.


Pictured above: Former Spurs guard Dejounte Murray (left) with Hawks GM Landry Fields (right) (Picture from San Antonio Express News)


The next blockbuster move in the offseason regarded young all-star guard Dejounte Murray, who had just finished a solid campaign in San Antonio. On June 30th, he was be traded to the Atlanta Hawks for forward Danilo Galinari and a plethora of future first round picks. This move helped build the backcourt, a team’s guard position core, for the Hawks, pairing Murray with Trae Young, an incredible young leader for Atlanta who was looking for his perfect partner.

One of the largest questions this offseason was whether or not it was time for the Utah Jazz to blow their roster up and begin their rebuild for the future. The Jazz, led by defensive star center Rudy Gobert and explosive guard Donovan Mitchell, had been frequently a solid team in the regular season, putting up nearly 50-win seasons consistently, but fell short in the playoffs, losing in the conference semifinals. All the way back in March 2022, after a disappointing loss to the Clippers, Sports Illustrated wrote that “Donovan Mitchell voiced his frustrations, saying ‘I don’t know. It’s the same [thing]. I don’t know, it feels the same way. It’s the same thing, it’s literally the same thing. I had six turnovers, turned the ball over too much, we didn’t get back on defense, we didn’t rebound.’” Utah’s front office decided to begin their rebuild with a massive trade package for Gobert on July 1st, where the Jazz received guards Malik Beasley, Leandro Bolmaro, and Patrick Beverley, forward Jarred Vanderbilt, newly-drafted center Walker Kessler, and five first-round picks from the Minnesota Timberwolves. While many Timberwolves rotation pieces are gone, many fans were excited to see a new trio of stars D’Angelo Russell, Karl-Anthony Towns, and now Gobert.

With one large piece of Utah now gone, the journey to trade Mitchell continued. Due to many rumors, it seemed like a deal with the New York Knicks was incoming, but it was reported that the Jazz were asking for up to seven draft picks in a trade. A Mitchell trade began to loom over the league but slowly also seemed to settle down as the season was approaching with no progress. Eventually, a monster trade report was released into the NBA landscape on September 1st, by ESPN’s Senior NBA Insider Adrian Wojnarowski. Donovan Mitchell was surprisingly traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers for guard Colin Sexton, forward Lauri Markkanen, newly drafted 14th overall pick Ochai Agbaji, and three first-round picks. The public eye was not even aware the Cavaliers were pushing for Mitchell. Mitchell now found himself in a great situation, leading the Cavs’ young core of guard Darius Garland, and forward/centers Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. The Cavaliers’ future is definitely now looking bright, as they shone in their offseason moves.


Pictured above: Donovan Mitchell in his new Cavaliers uniform during a preseason game (picture from Cleveland.com)

Before all of the blockbuster trades occurred, the 2022 NBA Draft was the main headline: the annual moving-up ceremony of the greatest college players to their assignments for NBA teams. The draft took place on June 23rd, and the Orlando Magic, the team who had the worst record in the league last season, had their chance to pick first overall. In a shocker of a pick, they chose Duke forward Paolo Banchero, who was predicted pre-draft by most analysts to go third in the draft. With the second pick, the Oklahoma City Thunder chose Gonzaga forward Chet Holmgren, who is going to be an excellent addition to a great young Oklahoma City core. Unfortunately, during an amateur game, Holmgren suffered a foot injury that would sideline him his entire rookie year. With the third pick, the Houston Rockets selected Auburn forward Jabari Smith Jr., who is a great defender and was predicted to go first overall before the draft. Smith will join young guard Jalen Green and will inevitably be the replacement of Christian Wood as a key of this young Rockets team.

Other various incredible selections in the draft include the Detroit Pistons’ fifth overall pick, Purdue guard Jaden Ivey, who will be a great partner to 2021 first overall pick Cade Cunningham. The New Orleans Pelicans’ eighth overall pick of G League Ignite guard Dyson Daniels brought the Pelicans more perimeter defense. Memphis center Jalen Duren was drafted thirteenth overall initially by the Charlotte Hornets, before being traded multiple times and ended up within the hands of the Pistons, where the physical young center should thrive with a very promising-looking youthful core. Later in the draft, the Rockets were able to sneak away with Kentucky star guard TyTy Washington Jr. with the twenty-ninth pick, who will surely be a promising addition to the Rockets’ new core of Jalen Green, Jabari Smith, and previously selected LSU forward Tari Eason. One of the biggest questions in the draft this year is the Portland Trail Blazers’ first-round selection of Kentucky guard Shaedon Sharpe. Sharpe is explosive and a great scorer, but he had reclassified to a class a year above his, joined the Kentucky team, and was drafted without playing a single college minute. Sharpe had successfully bent the rules of the one-and-done idea and now seemed to be a big question mark for this new rookie class.


Pictured above: Jabari Smith Jr., the third overall pick, in a Rockets preseason game (picture from Sports Illustrated)


As the NBA season approached, every NBA fan went to make their prediction of who will make the playoffs, and more importantly, who will end up hoisting the Larry O’Brien trophy by mid-June 2023. The Golden State Warriors seemed to be the first team to come to mind, as they won it last year and look to repeat. As stated before, their center James Wiseman will finally be healthy and playing again, and Stephen Curry showed no signs of slowing down last year. The Warriors will most likely look to focus on their core led by forwards Andrew Wiggins and Jonahan Kuminga, and guard Jordan Poole, but this amazing Warriors team was not going to be playing any worse basketball this year.

The Boston Celtics are the next championship contenders to come to NBA fans’ minds. The Celtics were running it back with their now Finals-experienced team of superstar forward Jayson Tatum and guard Jaylen Brown, as well as reigning Defensive Player of the Year winner Marcus Smart. Besides the suspension of their head coach Ime Udoka for off-the-court reasoning, the Celtics also look like they were in shape to have a great season.


Pictured above: Jayson Tatum (center) celebrating during a game in the 2022 NBA Finals (picture from CelticsBlog)

Other contenders are the Brooklyn Nets, a team that has been plagued by controversy, especially this offseason after former MVP Kevin Durant requested a trade from the team, but the trade for Ben Simmons added a great playmaker and defender to the all-star duo of Durant and the shifty Kyrie Irving. The Los Angeles Clippers look to make a serious run, as their loaded roster of forwards Kawhi Leonard and Paul George were ruined by injury, and in other cases, the team had a thing for blowing leads. The Clippers added guard John Wall, who had not played the previous year for the Rockets due to personal reasons, and Wall looked to make a comeback for this impressive Clippers roster. The Philadelphia 76ers plan to make a big impact this season, as MVP candidate center Joel Embiid, stud guard Tyrese Maxey, and former MVP James Harden get used to playing with each other. The 76ers added Harden’s former teammate in the aggressive PJ Tucker, as well as defensive guard DeAnthony Melton in free agency. The Giannis Antetokounmpo-led Milwaukee Bucks, controversial Phoenix Suns, tough Miami Heat, 2022 MVP Nikola Jokic’s Denver Nuggets, and MVP candidate Luka Doncic’s Dallas Mavericks are also very strong contenders for the gold this year.


verPictured above: Zion Williamson, the New Orleans Pelicans’ superstar (picture from: MARCA)

As for sleeper teams who have a chance to make big things happen, the New Orleans Pelicans are one team to keep an eye on. Zion Williamson, the injury-prone 2019 first over all pick, is cleared and ready to make his epic comeback to the NBA after signing a massive contract extension in the offseason. Sharpshooter CJ McCollum and young players Jose Alvarado and Herb Jones looked to make huge strides on the defensive side. Forward Brandon Ingram, a borderline all-star, helped lead the team and if he can stay healthy and continue putting up good numbers, he can help elevate this Pelicans team even further. If all the jigsaw pieces fall into place well for the Pelicans, NBA fans could be looking at a team with bench depth that could be a serious threat in the playoffs.

Overall, NBA fans all over the world are looking forward to this season and rightfully so. Really anything can happen on the court. Last year, nobody would’ve figured the Warriors would turn their injuries around and make the Finals again, let alone win it all. It is hard to predict an NBA season, but all it takes really is to wait and watch the magic happen.