NBA Draft

NBA: Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland among six new duos to watch during the 2022-23 season | NBA News

A mixture of blockbuster trades and new stars entering the league from the NBA draft have created several new interesting partnerships for the 2022-23 season.

The new season begins on Tuesday night, with both of last season’s NBA Finals teams in action, live on Sky Sports, as the Boston Celtics host the Philadelphia 76ers before the Golden State Warriors begin the defence of their title against LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Sky Sports will also offer prime-time weekend coverage, with the opening week’s Sunday marquee game seeing the Lakers host the Portland Trail Blazers at 8:30pm.

Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland – Cleveland Cavaliers

This duo participated in a pair of summer workouts unaware they would eventually become team-mates. In those sessions, Garland pushed the future Cavalier, leading to optimism about the motivation these guards can provide one another once Cleveland starts playing real games.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Cleveland Cavaliers’ Darius Garland produced a slick dime to set up an easy slam for Evan Mobley

“I consider myself a pretty good shooter, but he’s right there,” Mitchell said of his summer workouts with Garland. “I’m trying to keep up with him. He made me have to raise my level in a workout. If you can bring that on a night-to-night basis in a workout and practice, you get to a game, and now we’re on the same team, it’ll be special.”

Traded to Cleveland on September 1, Mitchell teams up with Garland this season to form what should be a dynamic scoring backcourt. The duo’s expected effectiveness on defense (both are 6-foot-1) naturally comes into question, but Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff plans to protect the backcourt with athletic twin-towners Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley.

Cade Cunningham and Jaden Ivey – Detroit Pistons

Athletic, dynamic, and flat-out humongous, Cunningham, 21, and Ivey, 20, could turn out to be Detroit’s backcourt starters for the next several years. At least that’s the plan right now for the No 1 and No 5 picks of the last two drafts. Both are rising stars dripping with perennial All-Star potential.

Detroit Pistons guard Cade Cunningham, left, and Jaden Ivey pose during the NBA basketball team's media day in Detroit, Monday, Sept. 26, 2022. (AP Photo/Paul Sancya)
The Detroit Pistons will pair 2021 top draft pick Cade Cunningham (L) with rookie Jaden Ivey

Ivey brings speed, explosiveness, and downhill attacking ability, not to mention plenty of experience playing off the ball (despite being ball-dominant in college at Purdue), and those attributes should mesh well with Cunningham’s polish, poise, and playmaking skills. Another sneaky element of Ivey’s game? His defense. If he can defend at a high level as a rookie, perhaps that alleviates some pressure off Cunningham, who is already exerting plenty of energy as Detroit’s primary playmaker on offense.

Maybe we should be talking “trio” or perhaps more here because we haven’t even mentioned the 2022 No 13 pick Jalen Duren, Isaiah Stewart (No 16 in 2020), or Saddiq Bey (No. 19 in 2020). At some point, we might see a Pistons starting line-up featuring five former first-round picks.

Jalen Green and Jabari Smith Jr – Houston Rockets

Houston Rockets guard Jalen Green during the first half of an NBA basketball game against the San Antonio Spurs Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)
After being picked second in the 2021 NBA draft, Jalen Green will look to take another step forward for the Houston Rockets

Hopefully, what you saw in Summer League did not sour your perception of Smith, the No 3 overall pick in this year’s Draft, because he’ll be a different player alongside Green this season. Smith shot 37.7 per cent from the floor and 25.9 per cent from deep in Las Vegas but showcased versatility on defense that seemed to go unnoticed. Smith’s numbers should improve from his summer campaign – with him snagging better touches in advantageous spots from Green – while playing alongside seasoned NBA talent.

It’s important to note that Green, the second overall pick in 2021, also struggled early last season before averaging nearly 30 points in the last nine games of the regular season to earn All-Rookie First-Team honours.

Houston Rockets forward Jabari Smith Jr., right, looks to pass the ball under pressure from San Antonio Spurs forward Doug McDermott (17) during the second half of an NBA preseason basketball game, Sunday, Oct. 2, 2022, in Houston. (AP Photo/Michael Wyke)
Jabari Smith Jr will join forces with Green after being picked third in this year’s draft

Green is already asking Rockets fans for patience as Houston trudges on with its current rebuild, and he can accelerate that effort next season by getting Smith shots in good positions. Until the shot starts falling, Smith will be able to consistently rely on his effort on defense.

Trae Young and Dejounte Murray – Atlanta Hawks

Time spent working in the San Antonio Spurs organization likely provided plenty of insight for Atlanta Hawks general manager Landry Fields on how Murray might fit alongside superstar guard Young. In what’s expected to be one of the more impactful transactions of the offseason, Atlanta traded Danilo Gallinari and a trio of first-round picks in June to land Murray, one of the NBA’s best perimeter defenders, who also continues to improve as a playmaking triple-double threat on offense.

ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 23: Dejounte Murray #5 and Trae Young #11 of the Atlanta Hawks pose for a portrait during NBA Media Day on September 23, 2022 at PC&E Studio in Atlanta, Georgia. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. Mandatory Copyright Notice: Copyright 2022 NBAE (Photo by Adam Hagy/NBAE via Getty Images)
The Atlanta Hawks’ trade for Dejounte Murray (L) will see him paired in the backcourt with Trae Young

Offensively, Murray provides a secondary creator to Young, which will also allow the latter to play off the ball more often. A deadly marksman, Young hit 48.1 per cent last season on catch-and-shoot threes, and with Murray in the mix, expect him to fire up more than the 17 shots he took last season off screens.

Defensively, Murray instantly upgrades length on the perimeter, which should minimize breakdowns in rotations on the back end.

Karl-Anthony Towns and Rudy Gobert – Minnesota Timberwolves

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Minnesota Timberwolves new trade Rudy Gobert claims the ‘sky is the limit’ for his team ahead of the start of the new NBA season

During Gobert’s introductory press conference, Minnesota coach Chris Finch called the center “the perfect fit at the perfect time for our organization.” Considering all the assets surrendered to land Gobert, he better be. The Timberwolves improved from 23 wins in 2020-21 to 46 last season, and believe Gobert could be the missing piece needed to reach the next level.

Offensively, the three-time Kia Defensive Player of the Year is a consistent lob threat and devastating screener that should free up Towns, the reigning three-point contest champ, to fire more attempts from deep than the 4.1 per game he took in 2021-22. Defensively, Gobert will take on his usual role as an eraser on the back end.

Minnesota Timberwolves center Karl-Anthony Towns
Karl-Anthony Towns is likely to play further away from the basket after Gobert’s arrival in Minnesota

“The [Rudy Gobert] trade happens,” Towns said after signing a $224m extension. “There’s no more time. There are no more excuses. We’ve got to get it done now. It’s championship now or bust.”

Damian Lillard and Jerami Grant – Portland Trail Blazers

Lillard played with Grant last year on Team USA that took Gold at the Tokyo Olympics and favoured the now former Pistons’ wing that Portland had reportedly pursued for more than a year. Under new general manager Joe Cronin, the Blazers have overhauled the roster with a series of moves designed to build around Lillard, who in July signed a two-year max extension.

Jerami Grant (L) and Damian Lillard of the Portland Trail Blazers
Jerami Grant (L) has joined Damian Lillard on the Portland Trail Blazers

Lillard expressed optimism about the team’s trade for Grant, which was the first of Portland’s offseason moves.

“I think getting Jerami was huge,” he said. “On the wing, you have to be deep. You’ve got to have guys that are athletic, guys that are versatile. Jerami is a guy that was on winning teams in Denver, he was on a winning team in Oklahoma City, and going to Detroit and having a lot more responsibility [than] he had on any other team, I think that forced him to be a better player.”

Products You May Like

Articles You May Like

Las Vegas Aces Star A’ja Wilson Leads Early Returns In Fan Votes For 2024 WNBA All-Stars –