Last year's NBA season concluded with an unlikely finish, as the Golden State Warriors topped the Boston Celtics in the Finals. 

Meanwhile, we saw favorites like the Los Angeles Lakers and Brooklyn Nets miss the playoffs and lose in the first round, respectively. We also saw the rise of teams such as the Memphis Grizzlies, led by Ja Morant and company. Some experts, like Docsports NBA, had some great predictions.

This year's NBA season seems even more unpredictable. Though the Warriors won, gone are the days of expecting them to make the Finals four years in a row, and LeBron James making it every single year. 

Surprisingly, it doesn't seem like many are picking LeBron to go deep in the playoffs. After last year's disappointing finish as well as being knocked out by the Phoenix Suns the season before, it's hard to pick them. 

The same goes for the Nets after being swept by the Celtics, and the poor play and dysfunction with Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and Ben Simmons. However, I expect them to turn it around and surprise folks this year. I could see the same for LA, too. 

Speaking of LA, don't sleep on the Clippers. I expect Kawhi Leonard to come back with a vengeance, as well as Paul George to compliment him. John Wall is an underrated addition, and as always, the Clips will be considered championship contenders again. But can they pull it off? 

We also can't forget the tanking aspect of this season. With 7-foot-4 demigod Victor Wembanyama projected as the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft and is considered one of the greatest prospects ever, the tanking for him is going to be absolute madness this year. 

I am excited to see how this NBA season goes, as we see the young rising stars like Morant, Zion Williamson, Luka Doncic, Giannis Antetokoumpo, Joel Embiid, Nikola Jokic, and others create a changing of the guard versus aging stars like James Harden, Kyrie, KD, and LeBron. 

Will we see a new MVP rise, like Luka or Embiid? Or will Giannis or Jokic recapture it? Or could a dark horse like LeBron, KD, or even Anthony Davis slip in? Speaking of which, can AD stay healthy this year? What about Russell Westbrook—can he mesh in LA or will he be traded? 

Other questions that come to mind: the new-look Pelicans with the return of Zion, Philly and Memphis trying to bounce back after last year, the Mavs' playoff chances, the Suns trying to avenge last season, the championship aspect of a healthy Bucks team, and more. 

With the season tipping off on Tuesday, October 18, here is our official FootBasket 2022-23 NBA season preview! 


Eastern Conference

1. Milwaukee Bucks
2. Philadelphia 76ers
3. Miami Heat
4. Boston Celtics
5. Brooklyn Nets
6. Cleveland Cavaliers
7. Atlanta Hawks
8. Toronto Raptors
9. Chicago Bulls
10. New York Knicks
11. Washington Wizards
12. Detroit Pistons
13. Charlotte Hornets
14. Indiana Pacers
15. Orlando Magic

Western Conference

1. Denver Nuggets
2. Golden State Warriors
3. Memphis Grizzlies
4. Los Angeles Clippers
5. Los Angeles Lakers
6. Phoenix Suns
7. Minnesota Timberwolves
8. New Orleans Pelicans
9. Dallas Mavericks
10. Portland Trail Blazers
11. Sacramento Kings
12. Oklahoma City Thunder
13. Houston Rockets
14. Utah Jazz
15. San Antonio Spurs



Ja Morant, PG, Memphis Grizzlies

Rookie of the Year

Bennedict Mathurin, SG, Indiana Pacers

Defensive Player of the Year

Rudy Gobert, C, Minnesota Timberwolves

Sixth Man of the Year

Jordan Poole, SG, Golden State Warriors

Most Improved Player

Anthony Edwards, SG, Minnesota Timberwolves

Coach of the Year

Darvin Ham, Los Angeles Lakers


Eastern Conference


Raptors defeat Hawks for 7th seed
Knicks defeat Bulls in 9/10 game
Hawks defeat Knicks for 8th seed

First Round

(1) Bucks defeat (8) Hawks, 4-1
(2) 76ers defeat (7) Raptors, 4-2
(3) Heat defeat (6) Cavaliers, 4-3
(5) Nets defeat (4) Celtics, 4-2


(1) Bucks defeat (5) Nets, 4-1
(2) 76ers defeat (3) Heat, 4-3

Conference Finals

(1) Bucks defeat (2) 76ers, 4-2


Western Conference


Timberwolves defeat Pelicans for 7th seed
Mavericks defeat Blazers in 9/10 game
Mavericks defeat Pelicans for 8th seed

First Round

(1) Nuggets defeat (8) Mavericks, 4-2
(2) Warriors defeat (7) Timberwolves, 4-2
(3) Grizzlies defeat (6) Suns, 4-3
(5) Lakers defeat (4) Clippers, 4-3


(5) Lakers defeat (1) Nuggets, 4-2
(3) Grizzlies defeat (2) Warriors, 4-3

Conference Finals

(5) Lakers over (3) Grizzlies, 4-2

Finals Pick

You probably stopped reading already with how crazy these predictions are, but the NBA seems pretty unpredictable this season compared to the preseason projections these past few years. So, might as well go all out there. Why not? 

Speaking of "why not?"—Russell Westbrook's signature phrase—I have no clue if he will be on this Lakers championship squad or not. My guess is that he will due to his expiring contract, and I think the Lakers will surprise some folks this year under Darvin Ham.

The key, of course, is a healthy LeBron James and Anthony Davis. If they both play at least 75-to-80 percent of the regular season games, that will be good enough for a playoff position. In the two years when both were healthy, they were leading the Western Conference.

Heck, before LeBron went down with an injury in his first year, the Lakes were fourth in the West. The next year when they won the championship, they were only projected as a seventh or eighth seed before that season began. So WHY NOT pick them?

It's hard for me to not argue against it. LeBron was on fire last season. A healthy AD could've made a huge difference that season. Even with the dysfunction of Russ, there should be a way to figure it out. The team is not going to put up with what happened last year.

LeBron will break Kareem's scoring record, AD will have a comeback season, and I think Russ will end up being at least competent—whether he comes off the bench or starts. 

The additions of Dennis Schroder, Patrick Beverley, Thomas Bryant, and others are underrated. Meanwhile, the return of Kendrick Nunn and the improvement of Austin Reaves should pay off. 

I could play the "realistic" approach like all the other websites, but it's hard to bet against a LeBron-led team. Going off the last two years, it doesn't make sense—but neither does the past two NBA seasons when you look at the preseason projections. 

But if the Lakers do find a way to go 33-49 again like last year with their Big Three, then so be it...but at least there's not much argument with the Bucks making it into the Finals. 

They should have made it last year if Khris Middleton were healthy. I would have had no problem picking the Bucks over the Warriors in last year's Finals, too. Giannis Antetokoumnpo is just that good, man. He almost single-handedly beat Boston last postseason. 

Bucks-Lakers was my preseason Finals pick last year, and man I hope it happens. However, I don't expect the Lakers to win easily like my pick last year in six games. If the Lakers are going to win this series, it will probably be in seven. 

The only way the Lakers win as well is if AD is back to his 2020 bubble playoff form—or better. He had shown flashes of being a top-5 player before. This preseason has shown glimpses of that. Let's just hope he's healthy to make it happen because he will likely take on Giannis.

Giannis has dominated AD the past few years, but we've seen AD do it the other way around, such as when he was a member of the Pelicans. Perhaps we may see LeBron guard Giannis as well. 

Overall, I think these two teams actually match up pretty well. But who will win? Will we see LeBron capture title No. 5, or will Giannis get his second ring and channel a changing of the guard? 

It's hard for me to pick. Mind says Bucks, but heart says Lakers. But I already went this far for LA, so I might as well go all the way... 

Lakers over Bucks, 4-3

Finals MVP: LeBron James


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