The Questions That Will Define Each NBA Team's 2022-23 Season

The Questions That Will Define Each NBA Team's 2022-23 Season

by Sam Mermin and Noah Cohen-Greenberg

 

It’s hard to tell contenders from pretenders. We don’t have all the answers — YET — but you can be damn sure we’re asking the right questions.

 


Golden State Warriors: Can James Wiseman contribute?
  • If the reigning champions optimize the strengths of the 7-footer, they’ll be even scarier. 
Boston Celtics: Can Robert Williams III stay healthy?
  • Without Williams, the Celtics are good. With him, the sky’s the limit. 
Milwaukee Bucks: How much will the stars play in the regular season?
  • Can Milwaulkee stay healthy and shoot for a top seed?
Los Angeles Clippers: Is John Wall exactly as good as he was five years and two major knee surgeries ago?
  • Other league execs would feel pretty foolish.
Memphis Grizzlies: Will the league raise all the rims to 15 feet so only Ja Morant can dunk?
  • The league constantly tweaks the rulebook. This would be a huge advantage.
Charlotte Hornets: How effective will Gordon Hayward's new haircut be in preventing future injuries?
  • Anonymous executives are calling the haircut a “force multiplier.”
New York Knicks: Will Obi Toppin become a top tier distributor?
  • Decades from now, your grandchildren could be asking you about “Bullseye” Toppin, all-time assist record holder. 
Atlanta Hawks: Will Trae Young play all 82 regular-season games against the Knicks?
  • If ownership can sell this to the league, it’s not hard to see the Hawks going far.
Los Angeles Lakers: Will Russ become a complementary 3 and D guy?
  • LeBron would certainly welcome this change.
Toronto Raptors: Just how much did Fred VanVleet grow this offseason?
  • Raptors fans are excited about the possibility of a 6’8” or 6’9” VanVleet picking defenses apart from the high post.
Miami Heat: Will “Heat Culture” inspire three or four undrafted players to step up and win playoff games?
  • Yes.
Detroit Pistons: Can Cade Cunningham’s year-2 leap vault him to a level of dominance only a handful of players have ever reached in their entire careers?
  • Last season, Cunningham outpaced every standard of production for someone his age. If he can take the next step and outperform all players of all ages in all seasons of NBA history, Detroit fans might see a win total nearing the high 40’s.
Denver Nuggets: Can Jokic grow a third arm?
  • Denver’s not going much further with Jokic in his current form.
Brooklyn Nets: How afraid will defenses be of Ben Simmons’ presumably much-improved jump shot?
  • We are comfortable assuming that nobody in Simmons’ position could have spent a single day this summer not working on his shot. Please.
Phoenix Suns: Will the NBA abolish the postseason?
  • It’d be contentious with fans, but it would be just what Chris Paul and the Suns need to finally finish strong.
Portland Trail Blazers: Is Anfernee Simons a top-5 guard in the league?
  • Imagine a Portland roster with two of the best guards around, both liable to drop an easy 50 on any given night.
Minnesota Timberwolves: Can Chris Finch make four or five clones of Anthony Edwards?
  • One of the most exciting and up-and-coming teams in the NBA could get a lot more exciting and up-and-coming.
Cleveland Cavaliers: Could Dean Wade be the Eastern Conference’s next great Giannis-stopper?
  • We can say with confidence that this would be good for the Cavaliers.
Utah Jazz: Does Danny Ainge have anything left in the tank?
  • The Jazz are rebuilding, but if Ainge is willing to lace ‘em up and help out at shooting guard, there could be a renaissance in Utah. 
Dallas Mavericks: Did someone remember to tell Luka he’s allowed to use the workout facilities in preseason?
  • If they forgot for a third year running, they’ll be kicking themselves.
Philadelphia 76ers: Can the front office work a little more “Morey Magic” and flip PJ Tucker for Kevin Durant?
  • In fairness, this would be significantly less lopsided than the last Brooklyn-to-Philly trade.
Oklahoma City Thunder: Can Shai Gilgeous-Alexander show a level of patience and general good-spiritedness no person should realistically be asked to display?
  • A good OKC season necessitates positivity and leadership from its star that can only come from a concerted effort to ignore his awful reality.
New Orleans Pelicans: If enough NBA podcasters declare Herb Jones a future superstar, will opposing defenses act accordingly?
  • A starting lineup of McCollum, Ingram, Valanciunas, Williamson, and the player Bill Simmons thinks Jones is would be a conundrum for opposing coaches.
Indiana Pacers: What will Daniel Theis’s game look like without Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum hogging touches?
  • We’ve never seen Theis in a leading role offensively. If he can take the extra shot opportunities and put up something resembling the best seasons of Carmelo Anthony, the Pacers could be quite frisky.
Washington Wizards: Can the front office find wizards to play for the team?
  • A logical next step for the advanced metrics movement that some casual fans feel is just as incomprehensible as alchemy and witchcraft.
Chicago Bulls: Can Caruso’s steal rate trend upward toward 100% so his teammates never have to play defense?
  • We’ve never seen anything like it, but we’d never seen anything as awful as the ‘21-’22 Bulls’ defense.
San Antonio Spurs: Can the Spurs be so bad that they get Victor Wembanyama a year early?
  • We’ll be the first to come out and say we think Wembanyama is a generational prospect. 
Orlando Magic: Will the players have fun and show a lot of heart?
  • They sure seem like some nice kids!
Sacramento Kings: Can Domantas Sabonis inspire a generation of Sacramento children to grow up playing a boring and antiquated style of basketball?
  • It wouldn’t help Sacramento now, but it also wouldn’t be good for basketball. 
Houston Rockets: Not happening, sorry. 
  • Roster is boring and bad. Maybe next year?
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