After the Golden State Warriors were crowned last June, the NBA is back. The North American league begins its 2022-2023 season on the night of Tuesday to Wednesday with a first prestigious evening and two enticing meetings: Boston-Philadelphia and Golden State-Los Angeles Lakers.
Who are the favourites?
The race for the succession of the Warriors is open, in more ways than one. The San Francisco franchise is obviously one of the main contenders. But the preparation has been turbulent, following an incident in training: Draymond Green, the team’s defensive keystone, hit team-mate Jordan Poole hard. Their ability to overcome this incident could depend a large part of their success this season. Last season’s finalists, the Boston Celtics, are in a similar situation, with a much strengthened squad during the summer but without their coach, Ime Udoka, dismissed for “violations of team rules”.
The outsiders are ready to jump at the chance, and there are plenty of them. The Milwaukee Bucks, champions in 2021, and the Philadelphia 76ers claim supremacy in the East. The Brooklyn Nets do not have much to envy in terms of talent and will be one of the curiosities of the exercise … if their tandem of stars Kyrie Irving – Kevin Durant is on the floor, which is nothing a guarantee (injuries, desires to leave, attitude, etc.).
The Western Conference is perhaps denser still. The Los Angeles Clippers, who will benefit from the returns of Kawhi Leonard and Paul George, the Denver Nuggets of Nikola Jokic, the Dallas Mavericks of Luka Doncic, the Memphis Grizzlies or even the Phoenix Suns, best record of the regular season last year … Everyone has arguments to lift the Larry O’Brien trophy at the end of the season.
Who are the players to follow?
Will Europe see one of its representatives being crowned best player of the season? After the doubles of Giannis Antetokounmpo (Milwaukee Bucks, 2019 and 2020) and Nikola Jokic (Denver Nuggets, 2021 and 2022), the NBA leaders’ favorite is Luka Doncic, the Slovenian star of the Dallas Mavericks, according to a survey conducted by ESPN media. The trio of players from the Old Continent will be among the main attractions of the season.
If he is not yet a player of the France team, the pivot of Philadelphia, Joël Embiid, for his part, puts his title of best scorer in play and would trade it well for an MVP trophy, or even better, a championship ring. A coronation from which LeBron James should be dismissed as his team, the Los Angeles Lakers, seems a tone below his rivals. Time is running out for “LBJ”, still one of the best players on the planet, but at the end of his career, at almost 38 years old. James should take comfort in the all-time NBA scoring record, as he has the opportunity to pass legend Kareem Abdul-Jabbar during the season.
What to expect from the French?
If the last few weeks have been marked by controversy in Golden State and Boston, the summer has been generally calm in terms of transfers. Rudy Gobert is the main headliner in a new tunic at the start of the school year. The pivot of the France team left Utah, the franchise in which he played his first nine NBA seasons, which transferred him to the Minnesota Timberwolves. His new team has bet big to get the arrival of the three-time best defender in the NBA and is very ambitious. Climbing the Western Conference hierarchy and blending into an offensive collective like he has never known in his career are on the program for “Gobzilla”.
SCARY HOURS pic.twitter.com/jpedFOxcaf
— Minnesota Timberwolves (@Timberwolves) October 8, 2022
The French contingent will be generally smaller than in recent seasons, with only six Blues benefiting from a guaranteed contract. Like Gobert, Evan Fournier returns frustrated from the lost Euro final. For his part, he should not play the leading roles with the New York Knicks. Winger Nicolas Batum will play an important role with the title-seeking Los Angeles Clippers. Frank Ntilikina recovered his health last season on the Dallas side, without any promise on his playing time. The youngsters Killian Hayes (Detroit Pistons) and Ousmane Dieng (Oklahoma City Thunder) will also try to find a place in their bottom teams. Three other players – Moussa Diabaté (Los Angeles Clippers), Théo Maledon (Charlotte Hornets) and Olivier Sarr (Portland Trail Blazers) – are themselves signatories to a so-called “two-way” contract, which will see them go returns between their NBA franchise and their affiliated development team, which play in the G-League.
What are the main dates of the season?
October 18 (on the night of October 18 to 19 in France): start of the regular season
December 25: NBA Christmas Day
January 16, 2023: Martin Luther King Day
January 19, 2023: Detroit Pistons – Chicago Bulls at Paris-Bercy
February 19, 2023: All-Star Game
April 11-14, 2023: Play-in Tournament, which determines which teams finish 7th and 8th in both Western and Eastern Conferences to then enter the final phase
April 15, 2023: start of the play-offs, the final phase June 1, 2023: start of the finals
June 22, 2023: draft for the 2023-2024 season