2022-23 NBA season predictions for Finals matchups, awards


The 2022-23 NBA regular season is in full swing and the race for the championship is on.

Fresh off their 4-2 series win in the 2022 NBA Finals, the Golden State Warriors will look to defend their crown while the Boston Celtics will hope to return to the grand stage and claim that ever-elusive Banner No. 18.

On an individual level, Denver Nuggets passing extraordinaire Nikola Jokić, Milwaukee Bucks do-it-all star Giannis Antetokounmpo and Philadelphia 76ers ever-improving center Joel Embiid will hope to continue the resurgence of the big man in the modern NBA after being the top three MVP candidates in 2021-22. 

But enough of last season – it’s time for new history to be made. 

From awards to NBA Finals participants and more, let’s take a look at season predictions for the 2022-23 NBA campaign:

Who will make the 2023 NBA Finals? Who will win?

Regardless of the team, health is by far the paramount factor in determining NBA Finals predictions. Most teams have a clean slate right now, especially with Kawhi Leonard returning to the Los Angeles Clippers

Generally, teams that thrive in the postseason atmosphere possess superstars who defy the opposition’s tactics offensively and deploy a foundation of switchable defenders who are disciplined and can handle multiple positions. If we apply this to last season, the Warriors had the shotmaking (Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Jordan Poole’s ascension) and defensive switchability similar to Boston (Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart’s improvement).

That’s largely why the Celtics acquired Malcolm Brogdon from the Indiana Pacers over the summer. He brings both of those factors and raises the level of quality on the court. 

Now looking at 2023, these teams, along with the Warriors and Celtics, could fit the bill if healthy: Denver Nuggets, Memphis Grizzlies and Milwaukee Bucks.

If I could make one prediction, I’d have a Jokić-Giannis showdown with the Bucks in six. 

Who are the top NBA rookies to watch in 2022-23?

With Chet Holmgren out of contention for Rookie of the Year, it’s fair to say Sacramento Kings forward Keegan Murray is the rookie who will contribute the most out of the gate and claim the award. Based on the preseason, he’s fundamentally sound, isn’t error-prone and hits shots at a high clip. He doesn’t have the highest ceiling of the bunch – that would be Orlando Magic’s No. 1 pick Paolo Banchero – but he can certainly help end Sacramento’s 16-year playoff drought. 

Another one is Dyson Daniels, the No. 8 overall pick to the New Orleans Pelicans. The fit is still a question mark considering he’s not a reliable floor-spacer yet, but the Pelicans have stocked up on defensive pests – Herbert Jones, Trey Murphy III, Jose Alvarado, Dereon Seabron – which puts Daniels in a safe situation to impact games without stuffing the stat sheet.

Lastly, Jaden Hardy, the No. 37 overall pick by the Dallas Mavericks, could end up being a major steal. He had first-round buzz in the early stages of the draft cycle before falling severely, but Dallas may have a gem here considering his magic on the ball as a playmaking relief valve next to Luka Dončić. Hardy’s primary target should be taking efficient shots and converting them at respectable clips to be seriously considered here.

Who will win 2022-23 NBA Most Valuable Player award?

Based on my NBA Finals predictions, it would be safe to presume that Jokić and Antetokounmpo are once again in the conversation, along with Ja Morant, Curry and Tatum. But factoring in voter fatigue and the possibility that they could jump a level, the Mavericks may have their first MVP in Dončić since 2006-07 when Dirk Nowitzki won – that’s my pick. 

Who will win 2022-23 NBA Most Improved Player award?

Desmond Bane should’ve won the award last year, but Morant, a fellow teammate, was a decent choice considering the campaign he had – even though his high draft status was indicative that he’d be a star sooner rather than later compared to Bane’s lower expectations. 

So far, players like Anthony Edwards, Tyrese Haliburton and Tyrese Maxey have gotten buzz for this category, but they’ve already demonstrated through their numbers and the eye test that they’ve hit a new gear, though they can still improve. 

Instead, looking at some underdog playoff teams and who could emerge from them, keep an eye on Patrick Williams, Ayo Dosunmu, Herbert Jones, Davion Mitchell or Bones Hyland. 

Who will win 2022-23 NBA Defensive Player of the Year?

Rudy Gobert is probably in line for his record-tying fourth Defensive Player of the Year award now that he’s tasked with cleaning up alongside Karl-Anthony Towns in Minnesota. That should be a feisty defensive unit to have to face, and Gobert will be the anchor. 

An underrated name here could be Cleveland Cavaliers second-year center Evan Mobley, who came on strong as a rookie and has more potential in him. If Donovan Mitchell’s acquisition propels Cleveland up the Eastern Conference ladder and Mobley is doing his thing defensively, his name will circulate in this section. 

Who are some sleeper NBA teams in 2022-23?

A sleeper team is one not often brought up in discussions but eventually shocks the basketball spectrum as the season progresses. Two teams out West that could be in for something special if the stars align are the Pelicans with a healthy Zion Williamson and the Kings with their depth-filled roster. New Orleans could be in for a 2021-22 Grizzlies jump in the standings while Sacramento could have a 2020-21 Grizzlies mini-breakout year. 

Out East the only team that arises here is Cleveland, which we saw for most of last season until injuries dropped them out of postseason contention. The Atlanta Hawks could jump back into the top tier of teams after landing Dejounte Murray while the Pacers and Detroit Pistons should both be fun to watch but not at serious playoff levels just yet. 

Who will win 2022-23 NBA Coach of the Year?

If the Pelicans do make that jump, then second-year head coach Willie Green is a deserved shout, especially after seeing the buy-in his players had in their first-round matchup last season against the top-seeded Phoenix Suns. Grizzlies head coach Taylor Jenkins was a good candidate last year but lost to Monty Williams, who more than deserved it after Phoenix’s historic season, while new Kings head coach Mike Brown would definitely make sense if Sacramento ends its postseason drought. 

Contact Us