Will the Nets or Lakers Be Title Contenders in 2022-23?

While they may not be the betting favorites to win the 2023 NBA title right now, the Brooklyn Nets and Los Angeles Lakers are surely two of the more intriguing teams in the league as training camps get underway. Let’s take a closer look at both teams to see if either one should be considered a viable title contender in 2023.

Nets Outlook

The Nets moved to Brooklyn in 2012 with a lot of fanfare and the promise to bring in star players who would help them win a championship. However, in their first decade in Brooklyn, the Nets have made the playoffs seven times but won just two playoff series. But there are high hopes that everything will finally come together during the 2022-23 season.

It starts with Kevin Durant, who has walked back his trade request from earlier in the summer and agreed to stay in Brooklyn. He gives the Nets the type of superstar who can lead them to a championship. The Nets should also get an obvious boost from having Kyrie Irving available for a full season, assuming New York state’s COVID-19 mandates don’t interfere with his availability the way they did last season.

Finally, the third piece of the puzzle is the enigmatic Ben Simmons, who is yet to make his Brooklyn debut. Simmons didn’t play at all last season and is coming off back surgery in May. But if he’s healthy this season and can quickly learn to play alongside Irving and Durant, the Nets could have arguably the best trio in the league. With Joe Harris returning after an injury-plagued season that limited him to 14 games last year and the Nets bringing in T.J. Warren this offseason, Brooklyn also has a strong supporting cast to complement its sensational trio.

Lakers Outlook

The Lakers also possess a trio that undoubtedly has championship potential. LeBron James and Anthony Davis have played together for the past three seasons, guiding the Lakers to the 2020 NBA championship. Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook came aboard before the start of last season, although things didn’t work out as planned with the Lakers missing the playoffs.

The problems that LA’s trio has are age and durability. James will turn 38 by the end of the season, while Westbrook will be 34 by the 2023 NBA Finals. The latter is also coming off one of his worst seasons, receiving heavy criticism with some indicating he’s a net-negative on the Lakers. Meanwhile, Davis has played 40 games or less in back-to-back seasons because of injuries, a problem that may not get better with his 30th birthday around the corner.

Of course, when those three players are healthy, the talent on the roster is undeniable. The Lakers can also expect help outside of the big three from Kendrick Nunn and the newly acquired Patrick Beverly.  However, getting everyone on the roster healthy at the same time and on the same page as each other could be a task that’s easier said than done.

The Verdict

While the championship chances for both the Nets and Lakers are worth discussing, the fact is that both teams have far more potential flaws and question marks than the NBA’s other serious contenders. The Nets and Lakers both have talented trios that are capable of leading their team to a title. But both have little margin for error in getting there. Meanwhile, the Celtics and Bucks are formidable foes for the Nets in the Eastern Conference, while the Warriors, Suns, and Clippers all pose a serious challenge for the Lakers in the Western Conference. When all is said and done, we shouldn’t plan on seeing the Lakers or the Nets in the NBA Finals in 2023.