As the 2022-2023 NBA season moves into February, parity has been the dominant theme, with the 30 teams having played over half of the 82-game season. The Boston Celtics are leading the Eastern Conference, followed closely by the Philadelphia 76ers, while the Denver Nuggets and Memphis Grizzlies have been gaining momentum out West, with the Grizzlies winning 11 games in a row. Let’s take a look at which teams are at the top of the list in the top professional basketball league in the world.
The Boston Celtics made an impressive run in the NBA Finals last season, with all of their starters returning for the 2022-2023 season. To make the team even stronger, they traded for Malcolm Brogdon, lead guard of the Pacers. This will give the Celtics a primary ball-handler and moves Marcus Smart to a secondary role, which suits him better for the team.
The Denver Nuggets lost to the Golden State Warriors in the playoffs last season but had an impressive campaign despite missing two of their three best players. With both Michael Porter Jr and Jamal Murray expected to be healthy for the upcoming 2022-23 season, they should be able to provide more support to two-time MVP, Nikola Jokic. With Jokic’s genius-level basketball IQ and a stronger supporting cast, the Nuggets are now a dark horse favorite to come out of the Western Conference.
The Philadelphia 76ers had a disappointing playoff run postseason, despite acquiring James Harden in a trade. Joel Embiid struggled, likely due to injury, and the majority of the team did not play up to expectations. To help improve their chances in 2023, the Sixers made off-season moves such as signing P.J. Tucker and Montrezl Harrell, and trading for De’Anthony Melton. If they remain healthy and develop good chemistry, this could be the Sixers’ year.
The Memphis Grizzlies exceeded expectations in the 2022-23 NBA season, finishing 2nd in the Western Conference. They will keep all of their starters but will miss De’Anthony Melton and Kyle Anderson from the rotation, who will be replaced by rookies Jake LaRavia and John Konchar. Tyus Jones, the best backup point guard in the league, was retained, providing Ja Morant with a strong support system. The Grizzlies’ depth is a strength, but Brandon Clarke, Ziaire Williams, and Xavier Tillman must continue to improve if they want to reach their championship potential.
The Milwaukee Bucks were unable to make it to the NBA Finals for the second-straight season due to an untimely injury to Khris Middleton during the 2022 playoffs. With Middleton out of the game, Giannis Antetokounmpo shouldered the majority of offensive responsibilities. Despite this, the Bucks should be in a good position to compete with any team in the Eastern Conference; they will bring back all key players and will have plenty of shooters on the floor.
The Brooklyn Nets have decided to keep Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving on the team, despite trade requests by both players. No team was willing to meet the Nets’ asking price, so they will remain with the team this season. The Nets’ main focus now is keeping their veteran players healthy, as they have the potential to make a deep run in the postseason if they can remain healthy.
The Cleveland Cavaliers enter the 2022-23 NBA season with a very tall frontcourt consisting of Lauri Markkanen, Evan Mobley, and Jarrett Allen. This frontcourt has led to the Cavaliers ranking third in opponent non-blocked two-point shots and sixth in opponent true shooting percentage. Although the team is tall, they lack in blocks and rebounds. The backcourt has been strengthened towards the end of last season with the addition of Caris LeVert, who should work well with All-Star Darius Garland.