The following are ten NBA stories to watch in 2023: LeBron James pursuing Kareem, the Nets making a move, and a crowded MVP discussion.

Fans of basketball, happy 2023. The 2022–23 NBA season is well underway, with someone hitting 40 points or more almost every night and wide-open competitions for both the title and MVP. Now that the holidays have passed, it’s time to consider what the upcoming year may hold. So without further ado, here are the ten most captivating NBA storylines to follow in 2023.

1.LeBron James tries to make history.
James is just 528 points away from shattering Kareem Abdul-all-time Jabbar’s scoring record as of Monday’s game (38,387). LeBron would catch Kareem in less than 20 games if he kept scoring at his current rate of 28.5 points per game, and he is currently on track to accomplish so against the Thunder on February 7. The NBA won’t care if it takes him a few additional games; the Lakers play the Bucks on February 9 and the Warriors on February 11, both on national television.

2. The Nets are on the way
Brooklyn has won 11 games in a row and 15 of its last 16, making it the biggest story in basketball right now. Even by his own high standards for midrange shooting, Kevin Durant is having his best inside-the-arc shooting season. According to Cleaning the Glass, Kyrie Irving is quietly posting a career-high 125.3 points per 100 shot attempts. And every game, Ben Simmons gets a little bit closer to reaching his own All-Star level, defending throughout the entire court, pressing in transition, and acting as a Draymond Green-like connector in the half court, setting up his deadly teammates’ offense with and without the ball in his hands. This team’s ideal vision is beginning to take shape. Will everything remain positive?

3. Can Golden State pull it off?
Golden State finished the year of 2022 on a high note, winning four straight games without the help of Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins, but both should return soon. Note from the pessimist: each of the victories occurred at home. The Warriors need to improve their performance on the road, as they currently have the lowest record in the league with a dismal 3-16 record. The Warriors start 2023 with four games at home, all of which are quite winnable, especially the opening three contests with Atlanta, Detroit, and Orlando. As Golden State, the No. 9 seed in the West, works to advance from the play-in group and secure its postseason spot over the next three months, a seven-game winning streak is in the offing. Are the Warriors still the group that everybody believes they are when everything is going well? It’s time for the reigning champions to start performing consistently.

4. A crowded MVP contest
You can credibly argue that at least six players, including Luka Doncic, Nikola Jokic, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Joel Embiid, Jayson Tatum, and Kevin Durant, are the current front-runners for the MVP award. If the Warriors start moving up the seed ladder, Stephen Curry and/or Zion Williamson may also start to play a role. If the Cavaliers were to secure the top seed in the East, Donovan Mitchell would be difficult to oppose. The margins are minuscule and this MVP class is absurdly packed. It will be interesting to see how it develops.

5. Trade season intensifies
On February 9, transactions can be made up to 3 p.m. ET for teams. Who will relocate the most famous names? Anthony Davis would be the choice if it were up to me, but the Lakers lack the courage to make that move, so I’ll move on. Vladimir Vucevic? Thomas Collins Both of those players would fall into the category of being dealt, but Collins has been on the market for a long now and nothing has happened. The Pacers’ Myles Turner is the same.

Since Kyle Kuzma is certain to enter free agency this summer (he has no intention of exercising his $13 million option), the Wizards may want to consider moving him before they risk losing him for nothing. It might be possible to relocate Obi Toppin from New York. Perhaps the most fascinating addition to a contender is Bojan Bogdanovic. The NBA wires will be vibrating with rumors for the next five weeks. Each of us will make an effort to determine which ones could have the largest influence on the postseason races.

6. All-Star debates
There are currently seven locks in the Western Conference: Luka Doncic, Stephen Curry (if he returns soon), Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, LeBron James, Nikola Jokic, Zion Williamson, and Ja Morant. Depending on how long he’s gone, Devin Booker’s future is up in the air, but if he returns in the first few days of February and continues where he left off, he’s practically a lock. If Damian Lillard stays healthy, he will participate. Nine, then.

With the way they have played, one of the Kings, either Domantas Sabonis or De’Aaron Fox, must enter the game. Sabonis is my pick, if only because it’s simpler to replace a front-court vacancy without shifting players’ positions. That’s a total of 10 players, and we haven’t even discussed Paul George, Anthony Davis, Lauri Markannen, Jaren Jackson Jr., Desmond Bane (who was seemingly a lock until getting hurt and is now back), Mikal Bridges, Jerami Grant, Anthony Edwards, or Deandre Ayton.

Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum, Kevin Durant, Joel Embiid, Donovan Mitchell, Kyrie Irving, Pascal Siakam, Jaylen Brown, Trae Young, and Tyrese Haliburton are the current ten Eastern Conference players I consider to be virtual locks to win the conference. If the Hawks falter, I could see Young being dropped, but the numbers are so impressive despite the poor shooting season.

Jimmy Butler or Bam Adebayo from Miami will likely make the team, barring any serious injuries. James Harden is most likely in if he stays healthy. There must be one more before discussing Evan Mobley, Darius Garland, Dejounte Murray, Jarrett Allen, or Myles Turner because when you include Jalen Brunson or Julius Randle from the Knicks, you’ve already reached 13. There are close calls everywhere.

7. Watch Wemby
Supposed top overall pick in 2023 Tanking for a better chance at a top draft pick, according to Victor Wembanyama, is a “strange tactic,” even going so far as to term it “unreasonable.” In fact, the reverse is true. Losing in the near run to improve your chances of winning in the long run is not strange or irrational. To be completely honest, the only “weird” strategy for a team like, say, the Hornets, Spurs, or Rockets would be to win six more games at the expense of a chance at a player like Wembanyama, at least until they do more than simply flatten the lottery odds a little bit to deter teams from strategically stinking. No one likes to use the phrase “tank,” but as the season goes on, these teams near the bottom of the standings will be speaking out loudly with their poor performances.

8. Can Kings maintain it?
The Kings are in the playoffs as of Monday’s opening tip-off. the play-in not. the postseason. With an offensive that is a few decimal places outside the top five, they are 19-16. Since 2005–2006, Sacramento hasn’t participated in the playoffs. The longest dry spell in the league is 16 years. With Domantis Sabonis and De’Aaron Fox, two All-Stars, this is one of the most entertaining teams to watch (whether they both actually make the team is another conversation — see above — but they both are All-Star players).

Unfortunately, Sacramento is currently below the Warriors and the Suns. It will be extremely difficult to keep those teams at bay. I think the greatest scenario for Sacramento is Dallas losing steam and one of the Warriors or Suns having more setbacks due to injuries. However, this team is strong. It is not impossible that they just outperform those clubs over the following three months and maintain their top-six seed. Watching them attempt it will be a lot of fun.

9. Making sense of the Sixers
Does Philadelphia have a claim to being one of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference? Is the defense really as strong as the metrics suggest? Will Tyrese Maxey’s reappearance provide us all the shock we want? There’s a lot to admire here, but I’m still not crazy about the shots the 76ers take during the close possessions (their late-game numbers reflect this).

At best, I have shaky trust in the James Harden teams. I have very little faith in a Doc Rivers team at this time. The only thing I can say about this club is that Joel Embiid is fantastic, which is a big deal. I adore D’Anthony Melton, but PJ Tucker in the postseason is my favorite. It would be significant if Tobias Harris and Georges Niang continued to be this dependable in Season 3. I’m still waiting and watching. Over the coming months, we’ll learn more.

10. New powers in the West
The top four West teams heading into play on Monday are Denver, New Orleans, Memphis, and Dallas. Will the Warriors, Suns, and Clippers finally reassert themselves as the dominant teams everyone anticipated them to be, or is this the changing of the guard we’ve been waiting to talk about? I predict that these Pelicans, Nuggets, and Grizzlies will each finish with a record of 1-3. They won’t necessarily be the teams to defeat in the playoffs, but they will be there, and having the home-court advantage will give them a significant advantage.