The NBA is back!

Following a long offseason that featured many twists and turns, the 2022-23 season opens on Tuesday, Oct. 18.

It’ll mark the start of what is shaping up to be a highly entertaining NBA season. The Eastern Conference is as deep as it has been in a long time, and the Western Conference should be even more competitive than it was last season, which is saying something.

To boot, the league is absolutely loaded with talent right now. It was hard enough to come up with a top-30 list before Kawhi Leonard, Zion Williamson and Damian Lillard were healthy. Now, they’re each back to full strength.

Ahead of the season tipping off, our NBA experts at TSN share how they think the season will play out. Can Nikola Jokic win three MVP awards in a row? Are the Bucks a lock to come out of the Eastern Conference? Will the Warriors defend their title? Which team is most likely to exceed their win total? And which one is most likely to fall short?

Here are our full predictions.

MORE: 76ers, Pelicans and Hawks will be NBA’s biggest overachievers this season

giannis antetokounmpo ftr

MVP prediction

Winner: Giannis Antetokounmpo (5)

Others receiving votes: Joel Embiid (4), Luka Doncic (4)

The case for Giannis Antetokounmpo:  “The Greek Freak” checks all of the MVP boxes. He consistently posts terrific numbers, impacts the game on both ends of the floor, stays (mostly) healthy and is the unquestioned leader of a title contender. It’s also worth noting that Antetokounmpo is going to turn 28 years old in December, putting him at what could be the absolute peak of his prime.

Antetokounmpo is the best player in the NBA right now, and the bet here is that he will be recognized for his season-long dominance with a third MVP award — even if he doesn’t care about winning it.

— Jordan Greer (@jordangreer42)

Rookie of the Year prediction

Winner: Paolo Banchero (7)

Others receiving votes: Keegan Murray (5), Jabari Smith Jr. (1)

The case for Paolo Banchero: Banchero will immediately become the focal point of the Magic’s offense because of his uncanny ability to create his own shot and set up his teammates as a 6-10 forward. He’s a three-level scorer with advanced passing skills, capable of posting well-rounded stat lines on a nightly basis.

Winning Rookie of the Year is all about opportunity, and Banchero will shoulder a heavy workload to earn the award.

— Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_)

Defensive Player of the Year prediction

Winner: Bam Adebayo (4)

Others receiving votes: Rudy Gobert (2), Joel Embiid (2), Evan Mobley (1), Draymond Green (1), Giannis Antetokounmpo (1), Mikal Bridges (1), Jrue Holiday (1)

The case for Bam Adebayo: The path for Adebayo to win Defensive Player of the Year isn’t that complicated. He is reprising his role as the anchor of a Heat defense that ranked in the top five last season, while other favorites to win the award won’t be afforded that type of continuity.

If it comes down to Adebayo and Antetokounmpo, Adebayo’s hunger after missing out in 2021 and 2022 will make the difference.

— Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21)

Scoring champion prediction

Winner: Luka Doncic (5)

Others receiving votes: Giannis Antetokounmpo (3), Trae Young (2), Joel Embiid (1), Kevin Durant (1), Ja Morant (1)

The case for Luka Doncic: Only four players averaged more points than Doncic last season, and the Mavericks saw their second-leading scorer walk in the summer.

It’s hard to imagine Doncic’s already sky-high usage rate increasing, but he might have an even greener light this season.

— Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles)

Most likely first-time All-Star prediction

Winner: Anthony Edwards (6)

Others receiving votes: Cade Cunningham (2), Evan Mobley (2), Tyrese Maxey (1), Jalen Brunson (1), RJ Barrett (1)

The case for Anthony Edwards: Edwards is the logical choice to be “this year’s Ja Morant,” both in terms of production and appeal after pouring in over 25 points per game in his postseason debut with the Timberwolves.

Not only did Edwards emerge as Minnesota’s most consistent star (even more so than Karl-Anthony Towns), he is also a show-stopping force who carries himself with a swagger that screams All-Star.

— Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13)

Anthony Edwards Minnesota Timberwolves Ja Morant Memphis Grizzlies

Best record prediction

Winner: Bucks (8)

Others receiving votes: 76ers (3), Nuggets (1), Nets (1)

The case for the Bucks: The Bucks have the best player in the world, two perfectly fitted and proven co-stars next to him and a solid veteran group behind them, including a recovered Brook Lopez.

Since acquiring Jrue Holiday, Milwaukee has a 38-16 record when the former All-Star starts next to Antetokounmpo, Khris Middleton and Lopez. That works out to be a 58-24 record over an 82-game season, which should be enough to lead the league.

— Juan Estevez (@JuanEstevez90)

Eastern Conference winner prediction

Winner: Bucks (9)

Others receiving votes: Celtics (2), 76ers (1), Nets (1)

The case for the Bucks: The Bucks being without Khris Middleton in their series against the Celtics gets underplayed. With him back in the lineup and Antetokounmpo motivated to add to his trophy case, Milwaukee will be tough to beat in a seven-game series.

I expect the Bucks to pick up a piece or two at the deadline to solidify their second unit.

  — Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay)

Western Conference winner prediction

Winner: Clippers (7)

Others receiving votes: Warriors (5), Nuggets (1)

The case for the Clippers: The Clippers have an elite tactician with a championship pedigree in Tyronn Lue. They have the league’s Terminator in Kawhi Leonard. They have the best sidekick in the league in a willing Paul George. And they have more wings than a Guy Fieri Super Bowl party.

Add it up, and they have all the ingredients to win the West.

— Steph Noh (@StephNoh)

NBA champion prediction

Winner: Bucks (5)

Others receiving votes: Clippers (4), Celtics (2), Warriors (1), Nets (1)

The case for the Bucks: The race to the title is going to be wild this season, but the Bucks feel like the safest bet for reasons already mentioned.

As long as they’re healthy, they should be elite on both ends of the court again.

— Rafferty


Other NBA predictions this season

Top fantasy player: Nikola Jokic (11 out of 13 votes)

Joel Embiid was first off the board in our fantasy draft, but we expect Jokic to be the best fantasy player once again.

Most impactful new acquisition: Donovan Mitchell (10 out of 13 votes)

Mitchell joins an exciting young core in Cleveland that features Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. Rudy Gobert and John Wall were the only other players who received votes for the most impactful new acquisition.

All-Star most likely to take a step back: Dejounte Murray (3 out of 13 votes)

Murray ran the show in San Antonio last season. Learning how to play off one of the highest-usage players in the NBA in Trae Young could take some adjustment.

Team most likely to significantly exceed Vegas over/under: Pelicans and Kings (5 out of 13 votes each)

Caesars has the Pelicans’ win total at 45.5 and the Kings’ total at 33.5. New Orleans earned a spot in the playoffs via the Play-In Tournament last season, while Sacramento is riding a 16-year postseason drought.

Team most likely to significantly fall short of Vegas over/under: Lakers (5 out of 13 votes)

The Lakers rebuilt their supporting cast this offseason, but is it enough for them to return to the playoffs? Our staff isn’t optimistic.

Russell Westbrook, Patrick Beverley, Anthony Davis

Full voting results

Player predictions

Voter Most Valuable Player Rookie of the Year Defensive Player of the Year Scoring champion Most likely first-time All-Star
Steph Noh (@StephNoh) Giannis Antetokounmpo Paolo Banchero Rudy Gobert Joel Embiid Evan Mobley
Scott Rafferty (@crabdribbles) Joel Embiid Paolo Banchero Bam Adebayo Luka Doncic Cade Cunningham
Carlan Gay (@TheCarlanGay) Joel Embiid Keegan Murray Rudy Gobert Giannis Antetokounmpo Tyrese Maxey
Juan Estevez (@JuanEstevez90) Luka Doncic Paolo Banchero Evan Mobley Luka Doncic Anthony Edwards
Micah Adams (@MicahAdams13) Giannis Antetokounmpo Keegan Murray Draymond Green Luka Doncic Anthony Edwards
Gilbert McGregor (@GMcGregor21) Giannis Antetokounmpo Keegan Murray Bam Adebayo Giannis Antetokounmpo Anthony Edwards
Jordan Greer (@jordangreer42) Giannis Antetokounmpo Keegan Murray Joel Embiid Luka Doncic Jalen Brunson
Kyle Irving (@KyleIrv_) Luka Doncic Paolo Banchero Giannis Antetokounmpo Trae Young Cade Cunningham
Leandro Fernandez (@FernandezLea) Giannis Antetokounmpo Jabari Smith Jr. Bam Adebayo Giannis Antetokounmpo Evan Mobley
Sergio Rabinal (@S_Rabinal) Joel Embiid Keegan Murray Mikal Bridges Ja Morant Anthony Edwards
Benyam Kidane (@BenyamKidane) Luka Doncic Paolo Banchero Bam Adebayo Trae Young Anthony Edwards
Tak Oikawa (@oitaku) Joel Embiid Paolo Banchero Jrue Holiday Kevin Durant RJ Barrett
Kritikorn Thanamahamongkhol Luka Doncic Paolo Banchero Joel Embiid Luka Doncic Anthony Edwards

Team predictions

Voter Best record Eastern Conference winner Western Conference winner NBA champion
Steph Noh 76ers 76ers Clippers Clippers
Scott Rafferty 76ers Bucks Clippers Bucks
Carlan Gay 76ers Bucks Clippers Clippers
Juan Estevez Bucks Bucks Warriors Bucks
Micah Adams Bucks Bucks Nuggets Bucks
Gilbert McGregor Bucks Bucks Clippers Bucks
Jordan Greer Bucks Bucks Clippers Clippers
Kyle Irving Bucks Celtics Clippers Celtics
Leandro Fernandez Bucks Bucks Warriors Warriors
Sergio Rabinal Bucks Bucks Clippers Clippers
Benyam Kidane Nuggets Bucks Warriors Bucks
Tak Oikawa Nets Nets Warriors Nets
Kritikorn Thanamahamongkhol Bucks Celtics Warriors Celtics

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