To Ordinary Phase 2022-2023 you left less than 50 days for it to come to an end, which means that the NBA season enters its decisive stretch. The definition of the leaders of each conferenceHow will it be? Play-In and how players who have recently changed teams will fit in will be the stories to watch between now and April 9.
All 30 teams in the league have an average 25 and 21 games ahead to put the finishing touches on the regular course and start thinking about the short-term future. O Playoffsthe fight for the ring or even the Draft Lottery will be on the minds of many of them.
So, before the competition resumes after the NBA All-Star, it’s time to find out what they are questions most important from now until the end of the Regular Phase.
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Will it give the Warriors time to react?
Since 2018, no team has repeated a ring in the NBA, the most even period the league has seen in several decades. And in this 2023, it does not seem that the streak is going to be broken, especially due to the fact that the Warriors are in low hours. Californians are not having the campaign they dreamed of once they were crowned last June.
Irregularity is becoming the common denominator for Golden State, painting a picture more like 2021, in which they were left out of the postseason despite a great run by Stephen Curry. A Steph who missed 34.5% of his team’s games due to injuries. His rotation ins and outs, along with the Andrew Wiggins case, go a long way to explaining where the Californians stand, but it doesn’t answer all the questions.
The Warriors have taken several steps back on defense and in a Western Conference at a very high competitive level they cannot afford to let the defensive level down. Sometimes Steve Kerr’s men have shown that they can be a problem in the Playoffs, especially when Curry has the day and the rest of his teammates play their part. The problem comes from what remains until the month of April, having to leave in the past the inconsistent performance they have shown to date.
Anchored in a 50% win rate, the Warriors need to be at their best in the remaining 24 games.
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Will the Lakers signings work?
The Lakers were one of the winners of the closing of the market thanks to a firm and extremely aggressive bet. Some changes with the sole aim of saving his season after a difficult start, but also to mend his future in the short term in a way. Having made all these moves, they managed to have room for maneuver in terms of planning the squad for the following year due to the different salary regulations.
Right now, the angels They are placed in the 13th position of the Western Conferencebeing in 2 games from the Play-In zone and 4.5 from the Playoffs. A situation that, in any other year, would be a unique opportunity to return, but that in this 2023 is synonymous with equal capital.
Beyond that, the big question about the Lakers has to do with the long-term effect the recent additions may have. he fit in of Anthony Davis close to D’Angelo Russell glances beyond natural than his predecessor in the post, adding a constant threat from long and mid-range. On the other hand, the profile that Malik Beasley represents as a shooting guard is what LeBron James needs to unleash his vision of the game.
However, the new names that make up the Lakers’ roster are far from being figures of great value and impact. Instead, they are discarding teams in the middle or even lower zone, so despite having two of the best in AD and James, doubt about its impact is reasonable.
In fact, even if the Lakers were to get good results taking advantage of their accessible schedule, it might not be enough to beat others like Wolves, Blazers or Thunder for a spot in the Play-In.
Will the lack of depth affect the Suns?
to get with Kevin Durant Any self-respecting team has to be willing to give up a good chunk of their assets, both for the future and in the form of players. It is not just the high salary that the star receives, but the logical compensation that the other party must receive to close the deal.
The Suns made a trade that, from their perspective, should be made 99 times out of 100 when the opportunity arises. A circumstance that meant the loss of one of its strengths to date, such as the depth of the squad. Beyond the duo formed by Booker and Paul, Phoenix had two secondary with a great contribution like Bridges and Johnson, to which to add other names like Dario Saric or Jae Crowder.
In a way, depth and secondaries are aspects that are often overrated in the NBA, especially when the moment of truth comes in the Playoffs. However, it is during the Regular Phase that these names may end up carrying more weight, especially with only a few weeks left in the term. Dosing the minutes on a team like Phoenix with two veteran names like KD and CP3 as well as protecting the drags physical problems how Payne, Shamet or Warren, it is a priority. If you take into account that the Suns are fifth in the West and their margin with respect to the Play-In is 1.5 games, they cannot afford a false step.
Will Kyrie Irving be enough for the Mavs?
With Kyrie Irving you never know what to expect. One week he is the savior of a franchise and the next he himself is removed from the positive dynamics of the group. The Mavs bet all their cards on who the Nets’ star signing was in 2019 to save their season. The vision for the Texans is clear: for Kai to help Doncic and raise the level of the group.
However, Irving is not a panacea. As talented and virtuoso as he is, he is not a player capable of making an impact at both ends of the court and with a more “natural” fit with Doncic. The 30-year-old point guard is obviously going to work, put up good numbers and help Dallas add more wins. The question is whether his addition significantly elevates the potential the Mavericks had before trading for him. That is, How far could Dinwiddie and Finney-Smith go?
If your ceiling reached first round, moving so many assets to get the always unpredictable Irving might not have been the best solution. More when this contract ends and he’s going to demand a maximum regardless of what his performance is. The only thing left for Jason Kidd’s men is to hope that they finish in the position they are in and that in the first round they have to face some Kings who have no experience in the postseason.
Will Russell Westbrook fail the Clippers?
Since winning the MVP in 2017, Russell Westbrook has shared a team with Paul George, James Harden, Bradley Beal, LeBron James and Anthony Davis. And while his numbers were positive (22 points, 9 rebounds and 9 assists), his overall performance was light years away from that career peak. His bursts were very short lived and the falls were much steeper than the base would have liked. At 34 years old, Russ will begin a new era with the Clippers, his fourth team since 2020, hoping to feel useful and valid again.
The Californian will arrive at a structure that it needs an organizational base, the complete opposite of what it is, and that calls for offensive improvement either way (21st in efficiency). After being cut by the Utah Jazz, Westbrook didn’t have many other options to hit and the Clippers could afford to take a chance on him.
however, Brodie won’t have much room for error. If it doesn’t work out, he’ll soon be back on the bench and out for the remainder of the season with the Clippers.
Westbrook is, without a doubt, at the most important point of his career. If he can use these 21 remaining games to revive his profile, he could save what’s left of his career. Otherwise, he will suffer the same fate as other physically declining stars before him.
What version to expect from the Brooklyn Nets?
It’s the big question among teams in the Eastern Conference. The Brooklyn Nets lost both of their leads in a matter of days, but gained peace of mind and health within the organization. The New Yorkers now appear as an interesting alternative to lead the middle zone on this side of the frame. Jacque Vaughn has proven every time he’s been given that he can turn rock into gold and bring out the best in the players around him. In this sense, the mix of supporting players and emerging figures may be enough for them to end up maintaining that fifth position they currently occupy.
The Nets have a margin of 2.5 games from seventh place which marks the start of the Play-In zone and, barring catastrophe, they will be in the postseason one way or another (8.5 game margin over 11th).
Beyond this, it’s interesting to wonder how far Brooklyn can go. More so when you consider the performance of Mikal Bridges every time he had a big opportunity in front of him. The former Suns signed 45 points in the last duel before the break and exceeded twenty in two of the other three he played. On the other hand, Dinwiddie continued what he had been doing in Dallas with an average of 17.8 points and 5.3 assists. Add to that the presence of names like Joe Harris, Nic Claxton and Seth Curry, and you’re left with a legitimate Playoff team and a candidate to be an uncomfortable opponent in a seven-game series.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily represent those of the NBA or its organizations.