The NBA season is starting and every team is filled with optimism about their prospects for the upcoming year. It is easy to be high on most of the NBA teams right now.
The league is more talented than ever, and the injuries produced by the wear and tear of the grueling 82 game season have yet to kick in and weaken the teams.
Unfortunately, not everybody can be a winner. Which teams should we look to fade to start the NBA season to make winning NBA picks?
Why are we fading the Jazz at the beginning of the season?
Because we’re fading the Jazz all season! With the 2023 NBA draft being one of the most loaded draft classes in recent memory, featuring two top prospects, teams will be clamoring to be at the bottom.
The Utah Jazz have gone all in on this mindset, trading most of their top players for draft picks and a chance to position themselves at the top of this year’s draft board.
The Jazz have plenty of young players that will be able to learn in the system, but not a lot of veteran leadership in order to get wins.
Step Ups and Trades
The Jazz top player, Collin Sexton is coming off an injury and will probably be limited in his minutes. Veterans Mike Conley and Malik Beasley will be auditioning to get traded. No veteran wants to be around a tanking rebuild.
Jazz rookie Walker Kessler is an impressive shot blocker who is supposed to take the role of traded All Star center Rudy Gobert eventually, but big men usually take a while to adjust to the rigors of the NBA.
Wings come into the NBA much more ready to contribute immediately, while the nuances of playing the rim protecting position can take years for a player to learn and master.
The Jazz start the season with a tough schedule. They play the Nuggets and the Grizzlies twice, and the Timberwolves and Pelicans.
They also play two games against the rebuilding Rockets, who still might be better than the Jazz at this point in the season.
Top-rated sportsbooks don’t like setting early season lines too high so we’ll be able to take advantage by fading the Utah Jazz.
The Magic added a number one NBA pick Paolo Banchero, but recent history has shown that even the most talented rookies take until at least the second half of their rookie season to get adjusted to the NBA game.
Recent top NBA picks such as Anthony Edwards, Jalen Green, and Cade Cunningham have all flourished in the second half of their rookie seasons. I would expect a similar result from the talented Banchero.
Because the Magic’s new leader will be experiencing growing pains, the team might not win many games to start the season.
The Magic start October facing playoff caliber teams such as the Hawks, Celtics, Cavaliers, and Mavericks with the Knicks, Hornets, and Pistons sprinkled in.
These could all be tough games for a Magic team that will be learning on the fly.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are another team that saw the loaded draft class and decided to embrace the tank.
They traded their best player Dejounte Murray in the off season in order to position themselves at the top of this year’s draft.
They open the season with a tough schedule that includes the 76ers, the Bulls, and the Timberwolves three times.
If the Spurs don’t win against the Hornets or the Pacers in the first two games, they might go into November without a win.
Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder have been tanking for years, and with the addition of #2 overall pick Chet Holmgren, observers thought this might be the year that the Thunder switched to trying to be a competitive team.
Then Holmgren got injured for the season during the summer and the Thunder’s plan of attack became clear once again.
The makers of the schedule also helped the Thunder in their plan of starting the season slow as they face only potential playoff teams in October.
The Thunder play the Clippers twice, the Timberwolves twice, the Nuggets, and the Mavericks. That’s a gauntlet for a playoff team let alone a rebuilding team that has not had a winning season for 3 years.
It’s going to be another gloomy year in Oklahoma City. Hopefully, they can finally land the right draft pick this year that allows them to switch the gears into being a competitive team.
Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers once again did a complete overhaul of their supporting cast around Anthony Davis and LeBron James.
While the Lakers will have hope because their two star players are healthy to start the season, it does take a while for role players to integrate, especially into playing with LeBron.
I expect the Lakers to have some growing pains according to the NBA odds, and the schedule makers have not made it easier! They only play playoff teams in the month of October.
The Lakers play the Warriors, the Clippers, the Trail Blazers, the Timberwolves, and the Nuggets twice to start their year.
Yes, the Trail Blazers did not make the playoffs last season, but they got Damian Lillard back and look to be a playoff team in the West now that they have a top 15 player again.
The Lakers should be competitive and may get a couple of high-profile wins here but this is a tough start to the season for a team looking to build chemistry and integrate new players.
I think the Lakers will be good as the season progresses, but they could have a tumultuous start to the season.
- Utah Jazz
- Orlando Magic
- San Antonio Spurs
- Oklahoma City Thunder
- Los Angeles Lakers