In the current downtime of the NBA off-season, there are generally three things to do; reflect on the past season, analyze summer league games and performances way too much, and look forward to the coming season. Today, we’re doing the last of those options, and looking at five compelling storylines for the 2022-23 season.
The drama with the Brooklyn Nets has intensified, as Kevin Durant made an ultimatum to owner Joe Tsai when they met in London; keep me or keep Steve Nash and Sean Marks. Tsai responded on Twitter with the following:
Considering how the Nets reportedly asked for both Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown in a trade with the Boston Celtics, it’s clear the Nets won’t be trading Durant unless they get a package even better than the Jazz received for Rudy Gobert. Which means, come the start of training camp, Durant will remain a Net; and there’s nothing he can do about it.
If he tries to pull a Ben Simmons and sit out the season, then he’s only hurting himself, as he’s not getting any younger and his legacy is on the line. He doesn’t have the luxury to sit out until he finds a desirable situation.
Kyrie Irving is still trying to get to the Los Angeles Lakers, but it doesn’t look like there’s a deal in place. He’ll obviously leave the Nets in 2023 and probably sign with Los Angeles then, but until that happens, he’s stuck in Brooklyn.
Throw in some fake news about Ben Simmons leaving the Nets’ group chat when asked about his condition during the playoffs, and we’ve got all sorts of stories and drama to follow with the Brooklyn Nets! They’ll certainly be an interesting team to watch during this season, and they’ll either have an amazing redemption story by winning it all or implode headfirst into the ground.
Can the Celtics win it all this year?
The Celtics currently have the best 2023 title odds, and why is understandable. They just pushed the Golden State Warriors to six games in the 2022 NBA Finals, and lost no key players during the offseason. In addition, they were able to turn four bench players into Malcolm Brogdon, who will be a huge asset for them, assuming he can stay healthy. Marcus Smart and Robert Williams are both Defensive Player of the Year candidates, and by adding Danilo Gallinari, the Celtics gave themselves some more shooting off the bench, something they desperately needed during last season’s playoffs.
The only problem that’s been seen at all from the Celtics this offseason is a bit of friction with Jaylen Brown and the organization, as he’s been the main piece in all the Durant trade talks. Brown could walk away in 2024, but it’s highly unlikely he’ll request a trade. There’s nothing here at the moment, but being in these constant trade talks affects players and their relationship with the organization. Plus, Brown liked a tweet saying that he was disrespected by Boston fans.
Whether KD would help or hurt the Celtics title chances depends on what Brad Stevens gives up, and it’s up for you to come to your own conclusion. But it’ll be interesting to follow the Celtics during the regular season, and see if they can boast an even better record than last season; remember, they were at .500 midway through the 2021-22 season, and they’re coming together at the beginning of this year as a cohesive squad. A coach’s second year with a team is always better than the first, because he’s had time to gel with his group; I doubt it will be any different for Ime Udoka.
Rookie of the Year
Who’s going to win Rookie of the Year during the 2022-23 season? It’s always an interesting storyline to follow, but this year, there are so many different guys who could win the award. Chet Holmgren could prove to be an immediate force to be reckoned with on the Thunder, and average 20 and 10. Paolo Banchero could be the next Shaquille O’Neal or Dwight Howard for Orlando, and suddenly bring the team into play-in or playoff contention. Jaden Ivey could be the missing guard the Detroit Pistons have needed to pair with Cade Cunningham, and he could win the award. It could be Jabari Smith, Jr, who revitalizes the Houston Rockets.
Or it could be some diamond in the rough at the end of the first round or beginning of the second round that no one’s ever heard of before.
Whatever the case, almost every team that missed the playoffs last year has a rookie (or two) to be excited about. The 2022 NBA Draft class was described as loaded, and I think we’ll see that this was a very accurate statement as the season progresses. I’m extremely excited to watch guys from this class develop into All-Stars. My current prediction for Rookie of the Year? Chet Holmgren.
Who Takes a Pay-Cut?
The Golden State Warriors are defending NBA champions; but they are going to have some tough decisions to make over the next few off-seasons. Not everyone on their team can afford to be paid what they deserve. Andrew Wiggins will likely be worth around $40 million a year, Draymond Green wants the max, Klay Thompson needs to be extended, and Jordan Poole‘s value has spiked tremendously. There’s a limit to what Joe Lacob is willing to spend on this team, and it’ll be interesting to see how contract negotiations play-out within the Warriors’ organization. Make sure to look for tidbits about contract situations on The Draymond Green Show.
The New Orleans Pelicans
This is one of the more underrated storylines heading into next year, but the New Orleans Pelicans are going to be such a fun team! Zion Williamson is coming back and he’s going to be better than ever, having spent a whole season working on getting in shape. Brandon Ingram is still the lethal scorer he’s always been, and will probably average around 25 points per game. Jose Alvarado is going to keep pestering defenders, incoming rookie Dyson Daniels will have his time to shine, and Jonas Valanciunas will anchor the interior defense.
Don’t forget, the Pelicans have CJ McCollum on their roster, and pushed Chris Paul and the Phoenix Suns to six games in the first round of the playoffs. McCollum is a proven NBA veteran, and around the prime of his career. Plus, Herb Jones has been a defensive monster, and will continue to improve, possibly even becoming a member of the All-Defensive team.
In addition, the Pelicans are still one of the teams that can offer a ton of assets for Durant, so they’ll stay in the news cycle. Even if they don’t trade for Durant, they’re going to be a super fun team to watch this year.
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