NBA season preview 2022-2023: Storylines to look for


Cooper O'Kelly, Lead Sports Editor

After a long and eventful off-season, basketball’s biggest stars are getting ready to make their return to the hardwood for the NBA’s 77th season. With the tip-off date of Oct. 22 rapidly approaching, I’m here to fill you in on some storylines to follow throughout this upcoming season in the league.

Two Perennial Title Favorites
To no one’s surprise, the Golden State Warriors are poised to make another deep play-off run this year. Despite losing some key role players during the off-season, I honestly think the Warriors are going to be even better than they were a year ago. Not only is big man James Wiseman returning from injury, but young players Jonathan Kuminga and Moses Moody are only going to get better and better. Combine that with the fire power of Klay Thompson and Jordan Poole and the defensive IQ of Draymond Green, and that rounds out to a pretty stacked roster for the defending champs. Oh yeah, and that Stephen Curry guy is pretty good too.

From the Eastern Conference, the Milwaukee Bucks are the juggernaut to look out for. The main reason for this is pretty simple, and that’s Giannis Antetokounmpo. Arguably the most dominant player in the NBA, Antetokounmpo impacts every single play in which he’s out on the court. As good as the Greek Freak is, the Bucks aren’t a one man show. All-Star Khris Middleton and defensive maestro Jrue Holiday make up the rest of Milwaukee’s big three and both of them play a huge part in winning games. Centers Bobby Portis and Brook Lopez and guards Grayson Allen and Wesley Matthews will all find ways to step up this season. Barring any major injuries, the Milwaukee Bucks are in a good position to capture some of that same magic from two years back.

One Darkhorse Title Contender
One team that I think is flying under everyone’s radar coming into this season is the New Orleans Pelicans. At the start of last year, people were assuming the absolute worst for the Pelicans once word of Zion Williamson’s injury situation got out. However, with some major help from the late-season acquisition of C.J. McCollum, the boys down in NOLA were able to sneak into the playoffs and even give the first-seeded Phoenix Suns a run for their money. With the return of a fully healthy Williamson, who could easily cement himself as a top ten player this season, the sky’s the limit for this team. Star forward Brandon Ingram is the third of New Orlean’s fearsome trio alongside Williamson and McCollum, with Herb Jones and Jonas Valanciunas completing the projected starting five. Combine that with a deep bench headlined by Devonte’ Graham and Jose Alvarado, and they’re looking pretty dangerous. At the end of the day the Pelicans have the star power, defense, rebounding, and scrappiness it takes to compete with the top dogs of the NBA. I’m saying it now, a lot of people are going to be surprised with where they end up.

A Stacked MVP Race
All the usual suspects appear at the top of the list when it comes to projections for the 2022-2023 MVP Award. Will Nikola Jokic win his third straight? Will Giannis Antetokounmpo win the third of his career? Will Joel Embiid finally get his shot after falling just short all these years? While I could see all of these outcomes happening, my pick for this year’s MVP is Luka Dončić, point guard for the Dallas Mavericks. Following last season’s Western Conference Finals finish for the Mavs, Dončić proved to everyone that he was enough to push a team through a play-off run, no matter the supporting cast. Despite a disappointing off-season overall, acquisitions of Christian Wood and JaVale McGee will help strengthen the Dallas frontcourt. The departure of Jalen Brunson via free agency may hurt the team as a whole, but it frees up a lot of touches for Dončić, who already gets more than his fair share. Honestly a 30 point, 10 rebound, 9 assist type of statline wouldn’t surprise me at all coming from the 23 year old superstar. Not only will he have the stats and team record needed in order to be awarded the MVP, Dončić won’t have any form of voter fatigue dragging him down. However if it isn’t Luka, or any of the names listed above, look for players like Zion Williamson and Kawhi Leonard to toss their hats into the ring.