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2022/23 NBA season preview - LA Clippers to win their first championship?

The NBA season gets underway on Tuesday, with the Golden State Warriors, Los Angeles Lakers, Philadelphia 76ers and Boston Celtics in action on opening night.

The Warriors won it all last season, toppling the Celtics in the NBA Finals in six games, with Stephen Curry picking up the first Finals MVP of his career.
Many will fancy Golden State to win another championship, but there are some teams that will have been able to gel during pre-season, while some ball clubs are welcoming back stars who have been injured.
Could it be the time for the Dallas Mavericks and Luka Doncic to win it all?
Has the window for the Phoenix Suns now closed with the franchise in disarray?
Will we see a winner from the stacked Eastern Conference, with the 76ers, Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, Chicago Bulls and Milwaukee Bucks all looking strong?

All of these questions will be answered, as well as many more including our tip to be named MVP, as Planet Sport previews the 2022/23 NBA season.

Los Angeles Clippers to win their first title

The Clippers are in a great position to win their first-ever championship.

Paul George carried LA to the play-in tournament before testing positive for Covid-19 ahead of the crunch match against the New Orleans Pelicans, meaning his side missed out on playoff basketball.

This year, PG13 will have two-time Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard back, which is a huge boost; perhaps the biggest boost for any NBA team headed into the new season.
Veteran point guard John Wall has signed for the Clippers and could be the final piece of the puzzle for Ty Lue.
Wall didn't play a single game last season for the Houston Rockets and recently opened up on his mental health struggles, but says he is in a good place now.
If he can play anywhere near his best, he will be a hugely valuable player for the Clips.

The outsiders for the title

We ruled out the Lakers last year, and we are doing it again. The team is too disjointed and won't have enough to win it all.

If Anthony Davis can stay fit - and that is a huge if - they have an outside chance, but even a prime LeBron James cannot save this team.

Then you have the Memphis Grizzlies, Denver Nuggets, Dallas Mavericks and Warriors from the west.
The Grizzlies are not quite there yet but have a very good young team that will reach the NBA Finals within the next three years, especially if Ja Morant continues on his career trajectory.
Dallas will likely fall short again even with the usual wizardry of Luka Doncic. He has a decent roster around him with the likes of Christian Wood and Spencer Dinwiddie but even the amazing Doncic needs a better supporting cast.
The Nuggets welcome back Jamal Murray after over a year out with a torn ACL. This is huge for Denver, who obviously have Nikola Jokic, the winner of the last two MVP awards.
Michael Malone's team have a better chance than the Grizzlies and Mavericks, and with the return of Murray, should have enough to better the reigning champion Warriors, even with Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Jordan Poole all healthy.
James Wiseman is back after getting injured two seasons ago, which is a huge boost, and even though the Warriors were at the peak of their powers six years ago, have a very good young core than will help them compete for a long time.
The two top contenders from the west are the Clippers and Nuggets. The window for the Suns is now closed with the off-court struggles.
The Eastern Conference is STACKED.
The Bucks are the favourites to reach the finals with Giannis Antetokounmpo, but we said the same last year.
There are so many contenders from the east, after years of the west dominating.
At least ten sides will fancy themselves to be playing in the playoffs, and another five or six probably believe they can reach the finals.
The Celtics, Bucks, Brooklyn Nets, Miami Heat, Philadelphia 76ers, Toronto Raptors, Cleveland Cavaliers and Atlanta Hawks will head into the season feeling very positive about their chances.
The first five teams mentioned definitely have the strongest chance out of that list in reaching the finals.
The 76ers need James Harden to play how we know he can, and Joel Embiid will need to maintain his MVP-calibre performances. Both are very possible, and if they perform, the 76ers will reach the finals.

Brooklyn are just too disjointed to put together a strong run in the off-season.ย Kevin Durant wanted out this summer and failed with his trade request. Kyrie Irving is unreliable and it seems that the team don't have too much faith in coach Steve Nash.

We can see a Clippers - Bucks finals, with the west franchise winning their first chip.

Jokic to win his third consecutive MVP?

Last year, we made the foolish mistake to write off Jokic when it came to becoming a two-time MVP. He proved us wrong as he carried the Nuggets to a 48-34 record, averaging 27.1 PPG, 13.8 RPG, 7.9 APG, 1.5 SPG and 0.9 BPG.

Were we wrong to write him off last year? Yes. Will we do it again this year? Absolutely.
With Murray returning, the Nugs will not have to rely on the big Serbian nearly as much, and while we reckon he will be in the frame, it is hard to see him winning his third MVP award in a row.
We are actually going for the aforementioned Embiid to win the coveted award for the first time.
The Sixers centre has shaken off his early-career injury issues and is able to play enough to help propel his ball club to a deep playoff run. He won the scoring title last season, averaging 30.6 PPG.
Embiid has finished second in voting for the last two seasons and we firmly believe this is his year.
Other contenders are Doncic (Mavericks), Curry (Warriors), Antetokounmpo (Bucks), Morant (Grizzlies), Durant (Nets) and Jayson Tatum (Celtics).
Obviously, these guys are the big hitters, but there are a few players who could be in contention if they manage to carry their team to a higher position than expected.

If New Orleans Pelicans forward Zion Williamson can stay healthy, who knows? Bradley Beal could go off for the Washington Wizards. LaMelo Ball has the potential to do something special for the Charlotte Hornets and with Trae Young forming a nice back-court with Dejounte Murray, the Atlanta Hawks point guard could have a tremendous year.

Important dates

October 18, 2022 - Regular season begins (76ers @ Celtics, Lakers @ Warriors).

February 17-19 - All-Star Weekend in Utah.

April 9, 2023 - Regular season ends.

April 11-14, 2023 - Play-In Tournament.

April 15, 2023 - Playoffs begin.

June 1, 2023 - NBA Finals begin.

June 22, 2023 - NBA Draft.

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