The future of the NBA is bright with many young stars emerging across the league. With so many talented young teams poised to help their team become a contender, it commands the attention of fans league-wide. This upcoming season will certainly embody that with many clubs poised to make that jump sooner rather than later. Here are five teams that fans should watch for that have a chance to take a huge step forward in 2023.
NBA Teams to Watch in 2023
The Cleveland Cavaliers arguably have the best young core of any Eastern Conference team. Each of their top four leading scorers from last season are all under the age of 25.
These included Darius Garland and Jarrett Allen who were each selected for the NBA All-Star Game. This made Cleveland the only team with two All-Stars that were both under 25 years old.
In addition to Garland and Allen, they also have rising sophomore Evan Mobley who finished just shy of the Rookie of the Year award last season. Mobley led all rookies in rebounding (8.3) and blocked shots (1.7) adding 15.0 points per game on 51% shooting from the field.
Elsewhere, Cleveland also has a nice mix of young and veteran players that provide much-needed leadership on and off the court. Names such as Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio, Caris LeVert, Lauri Markkanen, and Cedi Osman provide great depth for this Cavs roster.
New Orleans Pelicans
The New Orleans Pelicans put NBA fans on notice in their first-round playoff series against the Phoenix Suns. Although they lost in six games, there are a ton of positives that came out of the series.
First, Brandon Ingram had an excellent playoff debut leading the series in scoring averaging 27.0 points per game. He complimented CJ McCollum well who put forth 22.2 points himself.
Jonas Valanciunas asserted himself well in the paint tallying 14.5 points and 14.3 rebounds. The Pelicans rookie duo of Herbert Jones and Jose Alvarado also made their mark on the series with excellent defensive play.
To make the Pelicans’ performance even more incredible, they did this all without their star big man Zion Williamson. If Zion is fully healthy and the team continues to build together, the sky’s the limit for what they can accomplish going forward.
To say it has been dark times for the Sacramento Kings would be putting it very lightly. They have not made the playoffs since 2006 making this the longest playoff drought in NBA history. In that time, the Kings have finished last in the Pacific division seven times including each of the last two seasons.
So that begs the question why should we pay attention to the Sacramento Kings this upcoming season? The Kings have made some moves that could turn around the team’s fortunes as they enter their first season under new head coach Mike Brown.
This string of moves began at the trade deadline when the Kings traded Tyrese Haliburton to the Indiana Pacers for Domantas Sabonis. They made up for trading their rising star guard by acquiring Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk in the offseason. They will pair in the backcourt with De’Aaron Fox and Davion Mitchell.
While it’s not guaranteed the Kings’ playoff drought will come to an end, their fans should be excited about what this team could potentially accomplish.
Although the Toronto Raptors were eliminated in the first round of last year’s playoffs, they went out with an impressive playoff performance. Falling down 3-0 in their series against the Philadelphia 76ers, the Raptors avoided getting swept by pulling off two straight wins.
The Raptors are a team with a wealth of combo forwards on their roster. These include reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes, All-Star Pascal Siakam, OG Anunoby, and Gary Trent Jr.
While not very active in free agency, they did make a solid pickup by adding Otto Porter Jr. from the Golden State Warriors. In addition to All-Star Fred VanVleet, this team will be a team to watch in the Eastern Conference.
It has been a rough go for the Washington Wizards having missed the playoffs for the third time in four seasons. However, they have made midseason and offseason moves that could get them back on track.
Over the past year, the Wizards have been active in the trade market. They have added some big-name players including Kyle Kuzma, Kristaps Porzingis, Will Barton, and Monte Morris.
They were also active during free agency signing Delon Wright and Taj Gibson. These players will be a great compliment to Bradley Beal who the team recently gave a supermax extension.
Not to mention they have a solid group of young forwards in Rui Hachimura and Deni Avdija. There may be some uncertainty surrounding this team but they will surely be interesting to watch.