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To celebrate the return of NBA basketball, we take a look at one reason to watch every team this season.
The 2022-23 NBA regular season officially tipped off on Tuesday night, commencing a nearly six-month journey for 30 teams.
The stakes of this season for those 30 teams vary drastically. Some teams will seek a deep playoff run with high hopes of winning the championship and hoisting the esteemed Larry O’Brien trophy. Some teams will prefer a prime chance in the lottery at landing Victor Wembanyama or Scoot Henderson.
Regardless of their intentions and their pursuits, every team in the league has something special and unique about them. Every team has a reason for tuning in. Here is one reason to watch each and every team this season.
Denver Nuggets: The Joker and The Blue Arrow, reunited
Back-to-back MVP Nikola Jokic’s no-look passes are 100 percent worth the price of admission, and his patented Sombor shuffle is a delight of the highest fancy — but we haven’t seen the harmonious two-man game between Jokic and Jamal Murray in over 550 days.
Jokic and Murray have been playing together since 2016-17. The chemistry between them is palpable, a telepathic connection and trust that can only be garnered through years of reps. The Nuggets should be a really good team, and this tandem is going to be an absolute joy to watch.
Oklahoma City Thunder: The trio of SGA, Giddey and Lu Dort
Shai-Gilgeous Alexander, Josh Giddey and Lu Dort are a rare young trio with a nice blend of high-quality scoring, passing and defense.
SGA went on a scoring rampage after last year’s All-Star break. In a 13-game stretch, he scored over 30 points ten times.
Giddey’s court vision into the future is almost as nice as his hair. He became the youngest player in NBA history to record a triple-double, a remarkable line of 17-14-13. Most rookies would not even think about attempting the audacious passes he pulled off last season.
Dort’s defense is so rock-solid and stout that they call it the Dorture Chamber. He will lock up opponents and not allow them to breathe. In the Dorture Chamber, no one can hear you scream.
Utah Jazz: Jordan Clarkson heat checks
Jordan Clarkson has always had an ultra-green light. Sometimes he’ll catch completely on fire, stuck on automatic like he’s in NBA Jam. If we thought Clarkson was a chucker before, who knows the limits that he can reach for this season as the Jazz look to pull off a tank for the ages.
We also don’t know how much longer he will actually be in Utah, so a second-place reason to watch the Jazz this season (aside from the glorious and unabashed tank job) is Walker Kessler’s blocked shots. Kessler is a 7-foot-1 rookie and apparently averaged 4.6 blocks per game in college. That sounds made up, but in his last preseason game against the Spurs, he blocked four shots.
Portland Trail Blazers: The return of Dame DOLLA
The beginning of last season was brutal for Damian Lillard. There was a stretch of shooting an absolutely putrid 3-of-35 from beyond the arc. As Eric Collins would say: “He was colder than a polar bear’s toenails.” Turns out that Dame had an abdominal injury that required season-ending surgery. And now he’s back with a two-year, $122 million contract extension and a new-look Blazers roster.
Short-term memories will forget that just two seasons ago, no player in the NBA scored more clutch points than Dame. Nobody else matched his astounding shot creation and off-the-dribble 3s with the game on the line. Dame carried that injury-riddled Blazers team to an improbable No. 6 finish in the Western Conference. That was the same playoffs where he scored 55 points and hit 12 3-pointers against the Nuggets.
Minnesota Timberwolves: The power-dunking duo of Ant-Man and KAT
It’s going to be intriguing to see how the fit plays out in Minnesota with the big offseason acquisition of Rudy Gobert. The jumbo twin-towers lineups with Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns will be fascinating. But it will not be as entertaining as the best pair of power-dunking teammates in the game.
Both Anthony Edwards and Towns throw it down furiously and often. Ant-Man uses his ridiculous athleticism and supreme leaping ability while KAT utilizes his size and brute-force strength. Neither are afraid to take it right at opponents with vicious outcomes in mind.