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7 unexpected predictions for the 2022-23 NBA season


From MVP, to the scoring title, to the NBA Champion, we’re predicting that this is the perfect season to expect the unexpected.

After a wild NBA offseason, it feels like anything is possible this year. From wide-open awards races to unprecedented parity in the title hunt here are a few predictions for unexpected happenings this year.

7. The Brooklyn Nets aren’t heading anywhere good

I don’t know exactly how this situation is going to implode (although that would probably make for a more fun prediction) but it feels inevitable to me. This core — Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, Steve Nash, GM Sean Marks, are still together by circumstance rather than desire. They’re combustible on and off the floor. Trades, firings, resignations, a certain someone just disappearing for a large chunk of the season, it all feels like it’s in play and much more likely than just quietly muddling through together and getting beaten in the second round of the playoffs.

6. Someone joins Steph Curry and James Harden in the 300 3PTM club

Only two players in NBA history have ever made 300 or more 3-pointers in a single season — Steph Curry (four times) and James Harden (just once). As leaguewide 3-point attempts continue to climb, I think this is the year someone joins them. Buddy Hield (262) and Fred VanVleet (242) were the closest last season and both could be in player this year, especially if VanVleet is healthy enough to play in more than 65 games. But they’re not the only candidates. It would take an average of four 3-point makes per game for a player appearing in 75 games or more and several others were in the ballpark last season, including Donovan Mitchell (3.5), Anfernee Simons (3.1), Luka Doncic (3.1), Trae Young (3.1), Desmond Bane (3.0) and Anthony Edwards (3.0).

5. The Kings make the playoffs but the Portland Trail Blazers don’t

Both the Kings and Blazers have significantly retooled their rosters in the last 12 months. Neither is a realistic contender but they’ll both be pushing incredibly hard for the playoffs and hoping to catch a few lucky breaks. Jerami Grant and Josh Hart help but I’m not sure they’re enough, especially when Damian Lillard may have fallen off his peak. The Kings may come to regret trading Tyrese Haliburton for Domantas Sabonis but he big difference right now and rookie Keegan Murray should be in the starting lineup and making a positive two-way impact before too long. It may take two wins in the Play-In Tournament but the Kings look like a playoff team to me, the Blazers don’t.

4. This season ends with a first-time NBA champion

Teams like the Celtics, Warriors, Bucks and 76ers are all legitimate title contenders and it wouldn’t be a surprise to see any of the teams in that group win it all this year. But we have a tendency to overvalue the probability of things we’ve seen before, at the sake of those we haven’t, and this could be as good a year as any for something completely new. By FiveThirtyEight’s preseason projections, the 11 NBA teams who have never won a title before have cumulative title odds of 35.4 percent. That’s still something of a longshot but I am fascinated by the possibility, particularly with exciting teams like the Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies, Minnesota Timberwolves, Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Clippers in the mix.

3. This season ends with a first-time MVP

I think the Denver Nuggets might be one of the best teams in the Western Conference during the regular season but Nikola Jokic falls out of the MVP race fairly early. A deeper bench and the return of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. could steal some votes and voter fatigue may take it’s toll. Giannis Antetokounmpo will be in the mix but he’s also won multiple MVPs and I think this year voters could be enthralled by shiny new objects like Luka Doncic, Joel Embiid, Jayson Tatum and Ja Morant.

2. Jalen Green drops a 50-point game

Green is working on his efficiency and figuring out how to translate his scoring skills into team impact. But he has the tools to put up some monster numbers and on a Rockets team that’s still building an offensive structure and hierarchy, he’s going to have plenty of opportunities to freelance. Green and had eight 30-point games and one 40-pointer last season, seven of which came after Mar. 9. Some random night, he’s going to go off and break 50 this year.

1. LeBron James wins the scoring title

LeBron averaged 30.3 points per game last season, his first time topping 30 since the 2007-08 season when he won his first and only scoring title. He finished just three-tenths behind Joel Embiid but also played in just 56 games, not enough to officially qualify. A lot of focus is going to be on LeBron’s scoring this season as he approaches, and eventually passes, the all-time record currently held by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. I don’t see the Lakers’ talent level as being radically different this season and I think LeBron is carrying an enormous scoring load and pressing to stay on the court — both to break the record and to help the Lakers avoid another playoff miss.

— Ian Levy


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For the first time, a number is retired across the NBA: Bill Russell’s No. 6

Bill Russell died on July 31, 2022. In honor of Russell, a legendary coach, player, and activist, the NBA will retire his number: 6.

  • Russell’s playing accolades include 11 NBA titles (two of those as a player-coach), 5 MVP awards, a 1956 Gold Medal, among others. He was the first Black head coach in NBA history. Russell’s battle with racism was well-documented throughout his career.
  • Players that currently don No. 6 are grandfathered in and can continue wearing it if they so chose.
  • The players grandfathered in (H/T Sporting News) are: LeBron James, Alex Caruso, Kristaps Porzingis, Montrezl Harrell, Quentin Grimes, Nickeil Alexander-Walker, Hamidou Diallo and Lou Williams.

Hawks, De’Andre Hunter agree to contract extension

The Atlanta Hawks secured another piece of their young core for several years. De’Andre Hunter and the team agreed to a four-year extension worth $95 million according to ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski.

  • The extension is less than that of his peers drafted in 2019 who also got extensions: RJ Barrett, Tyler Herro, and Jordan Poole. Each of those are for four years and over $100 million.
  • Hunter has career per-game averages of 13.2 points, 4.1 rebounds, and 1.6 assists.
  • Trae Young, John Collins, Clint Capela, and Hunter are all under contract with Atlanta through at least 2025.

Kemba Walker waived by Pistons, will be free agent

Former All-Star Kemba Walker, who was traded to the Pistons this summer, was waived by the Detroit Pistons.

— Josh Wilson





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