A mix of blockbuster trades and new stars entering the league from the NBA Draft has created several exciting new partnerships for the 2022-23 season.
The new season begins Tuesday night, with both teams from last season’s NBA Finals in action, live on sky sportsas the Boston Celtics host the Philadelphia 76ers before the Golden State Warriors begin their title defense against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.
sky sports will also provide prime-time weekend coverage, with Sunday’s marquee game of opening week seeing the Lakers host the Portland Trail Blazers at 8:30 p.m.
Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland – Cleveland Cavaliers
This duo went through a pair of summer workouts unaware they would eventually become teammates. During those sessions, Garland pushed the future Cavalier, leading to optimism about the motivation those guards can provide once Cleveland starts playing real games.
“I consider myself a really good shooter, but he’s there,” Mitchell said of his summer training with Garland. “I try to follow him. He forced me to raise my level during training. If you can bring that night to night in training and training, you get to a game, and now we’re in the same team, it will be special.
Traded to Cleveland on Sept. 1, Mitchell is teaming up with Garland this season to form what should be a dynamic backcourt. The duo’s expected effectiveness on defense (both are 6-foot-1) is understandably in question, but Cavs coach JB Bickerstaff plans to protect the backcourt with athletic twins Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley.
Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey – Detroit Pistons
Athletic, dynamic and downright gigantic, the 21-year-old Cunningham and 20-year-old Ivey could prove to be Detroit’s backcourt starters for the next few years. At least that’s the plan right now for the No. 1 and No. 5 picks of the last two drafts. Both are rising stars dripping with perennial All-Star potential.
Ivey brings speed, explosiveness and downhill attacking ability, not to mention plenty of experience playing the ball (though he dominated the ball at Purdue University), and those attributes should pair well with Cunningham’s polish, balance and playing skills. Another sneaky part of Ivey’s game? His defence. If he can defend at a high level as a rookie, perhaps that eases some pressure on Cunningham, who already displays a lot of energy as Detroit’s primary point guard on offense.
Maybe we should say “trio” or maybe more here because we haven’t even mentioned 2022’s #13 pick Jalen Duren, Isaiah Stewart (2020’s #16) or Saddiq Bey (# 19 in 2020). At some point, we might see a Pistons starting lineup featuring five former first-round picks.
Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr – Houston Rockets
Hopefully what you saw in Summer League hasn’t altered your perception of Smith, the No. 3 overall in this year’s draft, as he will be a different player alongside Green this season. Smith shot 37.7% from the floor and 25.9% from the bottom for Las Vegas, but showed versatility on defense that seemed to go unnoticed. Smith’s numbers are expected to improve from his summer campaign – with him landing better touches in advantageous places than Green – while playing alongside seasoned NBA talent.
It’s important to note that Green, the second overall pick in 2021, also struggled early last season before averaging nearly 30 points in the final nine games of the regular season to take home honors. the first team All-Rookie.
Green is already asking Rockets fans for patience as Houston continues its current rebuild, and he can accelerate that effort next season by getting shots from Smith in good positions. Until the shot starts to fall, Smith can always count on his defensive efforts.
Trae Young and Dejounte Murray – Atlanta Hawks
The time spent working in the San Antonio Spurs organization likely provided plenty of insight for Atlanta Hawks general manager Landry Fields on how Murray could fit in alongside superstar Young. In what should be one of the most impactful deals of the offseason, Atlanta traded Danilo Gallinari and a trio of first-round picks in June to land Murray, one of the NBA’s top perimeter defensemen, who also continues to improve as a triple playmaker. -double threat on offense.
Offensively, Murray provides a secondary creator for Young, which will also allow the latter to play the ball more often. A lethal sniper, Young hit 48.1% last season on three-way shooting, and with Murray in the mix, expect him to shoot more than the 17 shots he took the last season off the screens.
Defensively, Murray instantly improves length on the perimeter, which should minimize breakdowns in rotations at the back.
Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert – Minnesota Timberwolves
During Gobert’s introductory press conference, Minnesota coach Chris Finch called the center “the perfect fit at the perfect time for our organization.” Considering all the assets ceded to the Gobert land, it is better to be. The Timberwolves went from 23 wins in 2020-21 to 46 last season, and believe Gobert could be the missing piece needed to reach the next level.
Offensively, the three-time Kia Defensive Player of the Year is a constant lob threat and a devastating display that should free up defending three-point contest champion Towns to shoot more attempts from deep than 4.1 per game. which he took in 2021-22. Defensively, Gobert will assume his usual role of rubber at the back.
“The [Rudy Gobert] the trade takes place,” Towns said after signing a $224 million extension. “There is no more time. There are no more excuses. We have to do it now. It’s the championship now or the bust.”
Damian Lillard and Jerami Grant – Portland Trail Blazers
Lillard played with Grant last year on the USA team that won gold at the Tokyo Olympics and favored the now-defunct Pistons wing that Portland reportedly chased for more than a year. Under new general manager Joe Cronin, the Blazers have overhauled the roster with a series of moves designed to build around Lillard, who in July signed a maximum two-year extension.
Lillard expressed optimism about the team’s trade for Grant, which was the first of Portland’s offseason moves.
“I think getting Jerami was huge,” he said. “On the wing, you have to be deep. You have to have athletic guys, versatile guys. Jerami is a guy who was on winning teams in Denver, he was on a winning team in Oklahoma City, and going to Detroit and having a lot more responsibilities [than] he had in any other team, I think it forced him to be a better player.”