Some Pleasant Surprises and Some Sorry Sights as the 2022-23 NBA Season Opens

The 2022-23 NBA season opened last October 18, with the defending champs Golden State Warriors and their Eastern Conference Finals dance partners Boston Celtics scoring convincing wins. This should have signified the return to more predictable results, and the return of traditional contenders doing battle at the center stage come the end of the season. This would mean that we should focus our attention on the Warriors, the Phoenix Suns, the LA Lakers, the Celtics, the Milwaukee Bucks, the Miami Heat, plus the rest of the traditional heavyweights, right?      

Wrong. Because at the end of month 1 of the new season, while we do have some pre-season favorites stamping their class early on, we also have some faves faltering, as well as some lightweights jumping the gun on the opening bell with such youthful energy. 

Among the sorry sights this early are the misfiring Los Angeles Lakers. Just 2 years removed from being the darlings of the NBA world, the Lakers as of this writing have not bought a single win so far. They now own the worst record in the NBA at 0-5. Despite the acquisition of a third star in Russell Westbrook last year, the Lakers have simply bombed out. Miserably. And this year doesn’t seem to make a difference despite the thankfully-healthy status of both Lebron James and Anthony Davis. There is simply a lack of chemistry, a lot of out-of-court intramurals, and it shows in the dismal stats the Lakers are coughing out. The skill level of both Lebron and Westbrook are obviously waning as age start to catch up with them. As for AD, he’s been tagged as a perrenial health case, hence there remains no certainty to optimizing court cohesion for this team. The Lakers will have to make some tough decisions whether to invest in the future, or sacrifice that future for a chance to win today with Lebron.

Next are the LA Clippers. Considered a dark horse favorite this year with the return of Kawhi Leonard and the recruitment of all-star guard John Wall, this already-stacked team has not shown enough passion to really grind it out with the rest of them. With a record of 2-4 as of this writing, this looks like a band of talents who simply want to cruise to the playoffs, and hopefully pick up their game right there. There appears to be no sense of urgency yet for this team, as they toy around with combinations, offensive and defensive patterns, and playing minutes. 

Over in the east, there’s the Brooklyn Nets who have a record of 1-4. Despite the presence of Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and returning all-star Ben Simmons, the Nets are mired deep in the standings with a 1-5 slate. The pre-season intramurals which led to both KD and Kyrie openly announcing their desire to be traded just doesn’t fade away so easily. Expectations are high for this team. But they cannot rely on their awesome offensive abilities alone. They have to bolster that so-so defense and show some pride in playing winning basketball if they want to move up the totem pole. 

Next is the Miami Heat with a 2-5 slot. Miami’s top guard, Kyle Lowry, is definitely now on the downswing of his career. The exit of PJ Tucker leaves a big hole on the Heat’s defense. The Heat cannot advance to the playoff wars with simply Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo manning the trenches. 

Finally, there’s the Philadelphia 76ers with an underwhelming 3-4 slot. Considered a cinch for the playoffs, the Sixers seem to have problems revving up their engines. James Harden is starting to show traces of his former deadly offense, but it seems to rub off differently on his partner, last year’s MVP candidate Joel Embiid. Once again, it is the chemistry that will matter most here. 

As for our pleasant surprises, we see the supposedly rebuilding Utah Jazz showing they care enough to gut it out despite the obvious lack of talent in the line-up. Now toting a 5-2 slot, they are able to max the talents of guys like Lauri Markannen, Jarred Vanderbilt and veteran Kelly Olynyk. They are out there trading shots, committing to pug-nosed defense, announcing to one and all that they are not to be taken for granted. The question however is: with the expected talent-laden draft pool next year, shouldn’t they be ‘tanking’ instead? The more victorious the Jazz are, the more they will place themselves farther in the quest for the best talents in the draft.

Then, there’s the ‘No-stars? No-matter!’ San Antonio Spurs who, at 5-2, are showing everyone what a no-nonsense defense can bring to a team. Without the talent, the rebuilding Spurs are relying on traditional hustle and back-to-basics ball to be competitive. These young guys play all-out all the time. How this sizzling speed on both ends of the court lasts in a season-long campaign will be a sight to see.

Next, we have the comebacking Portland Trailblazers with a 5-1 record. The Blazers have Damian Lillard coming back from injury. They lost Dame’s longtime partner, CJ McCollum, last year; but have found a worthy understudy in Anfernee Simons. How fast Simons matures, as well as how much muscle Jusuf Nurkic and Jerami Grant provide in the shaded territories, will determine the Blazers’ campaign this year.   

Overall, we are seeing a transition as new players and teams advance to be recognized. Old stars are now grudgingly being edged out. We see the likes of Lebron James, Kyle Lowry and Draymond Green now using more guile as opposed to talent, power and speed. We see Klay Thompson getting ejected for the first time in his career. We see the likes of young stars Luka Doncic, Jayson Tatum, Trae Young and Ja Morant showing no mercy as they manifest a clear intention – no disrespect to their elders – to take charge. There is simply no stopping Father Time as he slowly knocks on the doors of the senior basketeers. The young ones are coming, and the young once must now step aside.

The game is constantly evolving. And among other things, what is clear is that it has now become the era of the 3-pt shooter. Gone are the days of the giants, when cage wars were won in the clash of titans down below. When we had the likes of Bill Russell and Wilt Chamberlain lording it over the league. When we had Kareem Abdul Jabbar and Shaq O’Neil using their height and heft to their advantage. Today’s contemporary centers are now learning to play the outside game. Not only does Nikola Jokic, last year’s MVP, have a 3-pt shot, he also has a nifty pinpoint pass and some great handles. Steph Curry’s indelible mark in the league has been the game-changing acceptance of the 3-pointer as the weapon of choice for every team. No longer is the 3-point shot a last option, should the inside game be derailed. Now, it is the first option, with the inside game viewed as an occasional foray to soften the perimeter defense.

These are just some of our realizations in today’s fast-changing game. And we must learn to adjust accordingly. Lest the gods of the cage world disfavor us for our lack of appreciation and understanding of the new game.   

 For a clearer view, just click on the pics. Cover photo courtesy of SportsNet. Other photos, courtesy of NBC Sports, Bleacher Report, the LA Times, Click on Detroit, Heat Nation, the Bright Side of the Sun, oops Habit, CODE Sports, and Blazers’ Edge.


  1. Great analysis as usual, Charly, and thanks for the shout-out for my Blazers who are a lot more fun to watch this year. The NBA like the NFL seems to be unpredictable which makes it all that more interesting. Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Those Blazers certainly have impressed me as well. The hometown Sixers, not so much. Still a work in progress incorporating the new guys, but if no one wants to play any defense it may be a long season. In any event, the regular season of the NBA has started with a number of surprise teams. This may be the most competitive season yet.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. True. Let’s see how it goes, my friend. Excited for the Blazers and the Jazz – and now the Spurs – as they show how working hard and playing hard, how sharing and moving the ball, how help defense and lots of energy can make miracles happen.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Generational shift they say, evolution of basketball, etc. Whatever reason it is, NBA is fun to watch because we can expect new things to put spice in the already well-cooked dish. Tasty indeed. A good read.

    Liked by 1 person

          1. I’m actually surprised of how things went well for them despite their superstars departing to other teams. It looks like everyone knows their role, so the coach won’t have trouble instructing them to do this and that. It’s too early to say but I guess, Utah is dangerous.

            Liked by 1 person

            1. i think it is that these guys want to prove something. clarkson, markkanen and sexton want to prove they are not just mid-level players; conley, beasley, olynyk want to prove they’re not over-the-hill, talen and vanderbilt want to show they can deliver if given the chance. all these guys are taking the opportunity to show they have the talent, with no superstar on the roster. and they’re having fun! management however is making it clear that they are looking to score big in the future drafts, hence the idea of tanking.

              Liked by 1 person

              1. Well, the guys you have mentioned are playing well Sir. Consistency throughout the season is the only question they need to answer. Good luck to your bet.

                Liked by 1 person

                1. absolutely right. wondering how they’ll stand once the other teams start cleaning up their acts in the second half of the season. if they’ve gained enough confidence by then, well and good. if not, they’ll be fading away in the standings gradually.


                  1. Indeed, Sir. I think that’s pretty usual for Utah in the past two seasons when they faded in the latter stretch. Their regular season seemed fine but the rest is history — they got beaten.

                    Liked by 1 person

                    1. love the way the’re passing the ball. every game, there’s someone picking up the pace. they’re genuinely rooting for each other. and that’s what teamwork is all about. but yeah, how they’ll do once the rest start really upping their games, that I have to see. cheers, my friend!

                      Liked by 1 person

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