Bold basketball predictions for 2023: Raptors cause a stir as trade deadline buyers

Another year of hoops is pretty much in the books and in many ways it was a return to normalcy for basketball.

The NBA playoffs had sold-out arenas, the Golden State Warriors once again won it all for their fourth title in eight seasons, the offseason was as chaotic as ever with a few big names changing teams, and even if it’s still there, we haven’t heard as much about health and safety protocols as we have over the past two years.

Hopefully this forward momentum can continue into next year with not only more of what was normal before, but also some exciting new twists (in a positive way) in the football schedule.

Here are four bold predictions for basketball in 2023.

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Canada to medal at FIBA ​​World Cup and qualify for Olympics

Kicking off with the international match, 2023 is an important year for FIBA ​​as the World Cup will be played from August 25 to September 25. 10 in the Philippines, Japan and Indonesia.

Canada have already qualified for the event, finishing atop their group in qualifying with a perfect 10-0 record.

The Basketball World Cup is not the Football World Cup, which has much more prestige, but it is still an important international competition, not only because it is a world championship, but because that the results can be directly linked to Olympic qualification.

Specifically, in the case of Canada, two automatic spots from the Americas region for the Paris 2024 Games are up for grabs at the World Cup. The top two from the Americas region will earn those automatic spots, and we say one of them will be Canada.

Led by legitimate NBA star talent such as Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Luguentz Dort, Jamal Murray, RJ Barrett, Bennedict Mathurin and Shaedon Sharpe (and maybe even Andrew Wiggins), it’s hard not to be excited about this which might be possible.

Yes, there is always the problem with players committing to the national team, but Canada is as talented a basketball nation as any country outside of the United States, so why can’t Canada he not reach the podium at the World Cup and use it as a launching pad towards his first Olympic place since the men’s program contested in 2000?

It all starts with a little conviction.

Raptors will make big move as buyers at trade deadline

To draw attention to something more immediate, the NBA’s trade deadline for the 2022-23 season approaches on February 9, and the Toronto Raptors are a team of interest as the date approaches.

The Raptors seem like a team stuck in the middle. They have talent, but it’s unclear if it’s enough to see them take the next step. And given their position in the standings, while it may be too late to hit rock bottom and make a run against Victor Wembanyama in the lottery, they could still put themselves in a better draft position and look to the future. ‘coming.

On the other hand, it’s not a bad idea to look to bolster the existing talent that Toronto currently has on its roster. Making an effort to improve this season is also not out of reach.

Both paths the Raptors take are viable, and the one Toronto will take is the last.

Not knowing what it would take to acquire one of those guys, here are some targets the Raptors might consider to help themselves: Grayson Allen, Bojan Bogdanovic, Robert Covington, Jae Crowder, Eric Gordon, Kelly Oubre Jr. , Jakob Poeltl, Duncan Robinson, Terrence Ross and Myles Turner.

None of these players are superstars, but they can be impact pieces, which is what Toronto needs, especially in terms of shooting and size.

With Pascal Siakam enjoying one of the best individual seasons in franchise history and competitors like Fred VanVleet still on the roster, management needs to give these guys a chance by stepping out and adding a key piece to the deadline.

Nikola Jokic will win a third consecutive MVP

That doesn’t sound terribly bold, but considering the fact that only three other players have accomplished this feat – Wilt Chamberlain, Bill Russell, Larry Bird – and names such as Michael Jordan, LeBron James and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar don’t haven’t, so you could see where we’re coming from with that.

Nikola Jokic has very good arguments to win the MVP title again. He’s the best player on what could end up being the best team in the Western Conference, scores more efficiently than before, and could average a triple-double this season.

At the rate he is going, the only reason Jokic won’t win for the third time in a row is because of ‘voter fatigue’. The intangible thing that probably cost Jordan, James and Abdul-Jabbar to make this exclusive list.

Voter fatigue should not exist, however. The MVP trophy – now named the Michael Jordan Trophy – is expected to go to the league’s most valuable player.

His name is Nikola Jokic.

The Knicks will win a playoff round

Thanks to Julius Randle playing like an all-star again and Tom Thibodeau finding some magic with a shortened rotation, the New York Knicks have played pretty well so far this season.

We’ll go one step further and say the Knicks will play well all season and not only make the playoffs — as the No. 6 seed or better by avoiding the play-in tournament — but win an inning.

The script for this event likely has New York as the scrappy sixth seed taking on cross-town rival Brooklyn Nets. Obviously, Brooklyn is the most talented team, but the risk of injury or an off-court problem makes the Nets a veritable powder keg that’s more likely to explode when postseason pressure hits. When it does, it will give the Knicks the opportunity to steal the series.

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