Basketball is back!

It was a wild offseason in the NBA, one highlighted by more off-the-court news than on. Kevin Durant demanded a trade; then after a long, drawn-out soap opera, ended up remaining in Brooklyn.  The defending Eastern Conference champion Celtics lost their head coach Ime Udoka for the season, after he was suspended for an “improper intimate and consensual relationship” with a female staff member. Lastly and most devastatingly, the basketball world lost all-time legend Bill Russell after 88 of the most accomplished years anyone’s ever seen on this earth.

In terms of impact roster moves, old-school center Rudy Gobert was dealt to the Timberwolves, the Spurs’ best player Dejounte Murray was traded to the Hawks and Donovan Mitchell – after being linked to the Knicks in over 10,000 rumors – ended up being shipped to the Cavs. But without further ado or hoopla, let’s jump right into my NBA preseason predictions and rapid-fire fantasy summaries.

 

EASTERN CONFERENCE

 

ATLANTIC DIVISION

5. New York Knicks

2021-22 record: 37-45

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 38.5

Frascella’s prediction: 41-41

Fantasy outlook: The Knicks ultimately failed to acquire all-star Donovan Mitchell, and some people weren’t happy with Jalen Brunson as a consolation prize. Still, the little lefty will be a top three fantasy option for Tom Thibodeau’s middling squad, alongside improving R.J. Barrett and stat compiler Julius Randle. Mitchell Robinson will continue to be a consistent source of blocks in the middle, while SG Quentin Grimes and C Isaiah Hartenstein profile as the most likely late-round sleepers for New York.

4. Toronto Raptors

2021-22 record: 48-34

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 45.5

Frascella’s prediction: 47-35

Fantasy outlook: Nick Nurse has a very talented starting five here, but Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent, Scottie Barnes, O.G. Anunoby and Pascal Siakam will naturally eat into each other’s fantasy production. I don’t particularly like any of them at ADP right now. Toronto’s only potential sleeper is PF/C Chris Boucher, who would really benefit from any injuries along the way. Regardless, he’ll operate as this team’s sixth or seventh man.

3. Philadelphia 76ers

2021-22 record: 51-31

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 50.5

Frascella’s prediction: 50-32

Fantasy outlook: Perennial MVP candidate Joel Embiid is a consensus top-five fantasy pick, while “The Beard” has always been known to fill up the box score as well. My favorite guy here is probably lightning-quick PG Tyrese Maxey because he really benefits from the defensive attention given to Embiid, James Harden and veteran Tobias Harris. Combo guard De’Anthony Melton and dunk machine Montrezl Harrell are my sleepers.

2. Brooklyn Nets

2021-22 record: 44-38

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 50.5

Frascella’s prediction: 51-31

Fantasy outlook: Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving are both fantastic fantasy performers per appearance. The main concerns are rest, injuries and/or Kyrie’s antics facilitating a lifetime ban from the NBA (kidding, I think). Ben Simmons could potentially be a triple-double machine for this team, with the primary worries availability and consistency of court time. Young center Nicolas Claxton is the sleeper here, as he profiles as one of the top two or three defenders on Steve Nash’s squad, and I don’t believe Markieff Morris can truly challenge him at this stage of his veteran career.

1. Boston Celtics

2021-22 record: 51-31

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 53.5

Frascella’s prediction: 52-30

Fantasy outlook: Jayson Tatum is a no-doubt first rounder, while always-improving Jaylen Brown is second in line for fantasy production. New addition Malcolm Brogdon eats into some usage here, so I don’t like guys like Marcus Smart and Al Horford as much as I used to. Prolific point guard Payton Pritchard is the sleeper, as he looks to outplay teammate Derrick White over time en route to a greater helping of playing time from Boston’s shorthanded coaching staff.

 

CENTRAL DIVISION

5. Indiana Pacers

2021-22 record: 25-57

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 23.5

Frascella’s prediction: 19-63

Fantasy outlook: Young point guard Tyrese Haliburton is the expected heartbeat of this offense, but beware of nights where he completely disappears. Myles Turner and Buddy Hield are the veterans on this squad, though Turner trade rumors are flying around fast and furious. If and when Indiana tanks, SG Chris Duarte and PF Jalen Smith could be potential fantasy leaders. They’ll both be starting out the gate, but their usage will climb after eventual transactions are made. Rookie guard Bennedict Mathurin certainly appears to be the most likely fantasy sleeper.

4. Detroit Pistons

2021-22 record: 23-59

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 29.5

Frascella’s prediction: 24-58

Fantasy outlook: Cade Cunningham is the kid everybody’s gonna want, and I can’t say I blame them. It’s after Cade where things get tricky for Detroit. Rookie guard Jaden Ivey is worth a look in fantasy drafts because he may end up the No. 2 producer on this team. Saddiq Bey, Bojan Bogdanovic and Isaiah Stewart are the Pistons’ other “key” players (um, yuck?). Disappointing-to-date Killian Hayes looks like the only potential sleeper candidate, as coming off the bench as a sixth man may allow him to attack like the Jordan Clarkson’s, Tyler Herro’s and Jamal Crawford’s (throwback) of the world.

3. Chicago Bulls

2021-22 record: 46-36

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 41.5

Frascella’s prediction: 42-40

Fantasy outlook: Nikola Vucevic, DeMar DeRozan and Zach LaVine are all solid fantasy options, but the point guard situation on this squad is an absolute disaster. Stay away, as Ayo Dosunmu, Goran Dragic, Alex Caruso and Coby White duke it out for minutes in Lonzo Ball’s injury absence. Young PF Patrick Williams is the clear sleeper here, as he’s reportedly been working very hard to improve his offensive repertoire and overall aggressiveness.

2. Cleveland Cavaliers

2021-22 record: 44-38

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 47.5

Frascella’s prediction: 49-33

Fantasy outlook: Electric young PG Darius Garland was one of the best in the fantasy biz last season, but alpha Donovan Mitchell clearly cuts into his usage now. “The Fro” Jarrett Allen is easily one of the best fantasy centers in the game, while PF Evan Mobley offers limitless potential. Swingman Caris LeVert is the sleeper, as he can play multiple positions and slide easily into injury opportunities.

1. Milwaukee Bucks

2021-22 record: 51-31

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 52.5

Frascella’s prediction: 50-32

Fantasy outlook: “The Greek Freak” remains a fantasy god, while Jrue Holiday continues to operate as his right-hand man in the absence of Khris Middleton. Coming off left wrist surgery, the Bucks sound optimistic about Middleton, but I still think they’ll hold him out for at least the first month of the season. Backup PF/C Bobby Portis is the sleeper because he always produces when provided with increased playing time.

 

SOUTHEAST DIVISION

5. Orlando Magic

2021-22 record: 22-60

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 26.5

Frascella’s prediction: 26-56

Fantasy outlook: Small forward Franz Wagner is undoubtedly my guy in Orlando. He’s versatile and always in attack mode. Best of all, fantasy competitors fall asleep on him because the Magic are a weak team and he’s not exactly a household name. Cole Anthony and Jalen Suggs are talented young guards, and No. 1 overall pick Paolo Banchero slides right into the starting PF spot for this inexperienced squad. Intriguing center Mo Bamba is the sleeper, as Wendell Carter currently appears to be ahead of him in Orlando’s center competition. Bamba subsequently falls in ADP and we pick him up extremely late for zero risk.

4. Charlotte Hornets

2021-22 record: 43-39

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 36.5

Frascella’s prediction: 38-44

Fantasy outlook: You could make an argument for LaMelo Ball as a first-round pick in all formats, while Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward will be asked to supplement his production. Explosive forward Miles Bridges – who was charged with three counts of felony domestic violence – is a huge loss for this club in the win column. P.J. Washington and Kelly Oubre are the sleepers, as someone has to produce behind Ball, Rozier and Hayward.

3. Washington Wizards

2021-22 record: 35-47

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 35.5

Frascella’s prediction: 41-41

Fantasy outlook: Bradley Beal is the Wizards’ undisputed top dog, but new faces Monte Morris, Will Barton and Kristaps Porzingis should certainly give this club a lift. Power forward Rui Hachimura is the sleeper, as he can be a double-double machine if given the opportunity.

2. Atlanta Hawks

2021-22 record: 43-39

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 45.5

Frascella’s prediction: 43-39

Fantasy outlook: Dejounte Murray joins the fray to create a weird combo with fellow point guard Trae Young. Obviously, Murray will cut into Trae’s usage, thus I’m uninterested in the latter’s ADP right now. DeAndre Hunter is the sleeper, as he played well in the postseason.

1. Miami Heat

2021-22 record: 53-29

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 48.5

Frascella’s prediction: 52-30

Fantasy outlook: Jimmy Butler remains the productive alpha, as Bam Adebayo and Tyler Herro bring strong fantasy production relative to ADP. Victor Oladipo is unquestionably my Miami sleeper, as I like the way he can fill in for Butler, Herro, Kyle Lowry, Max Strus and/or Gabe Vincent. Oladipo is a seasoned all-around guard who simply needs minutes to fill up the stat sheet.

 

WESTERN CONFERENCE

 

Pacific Division

5. Sacramento Kings

2021-22 record: 30-52

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 33.5

Frascella’s prediction: 36-46

Fantasy outlook: The Kings have been a laughingstock for quite some time now, but they are finally putting things together with the trio of De’Aaron Fox, Keegan Murray and Domantas Sabonis. All three are in play relative to fantasy ADP. Veteran leader Harrison Barnes is in a Myles Turner-like situation. If things go south he’s likely getting traded. Microwave bench scorer Davion Mitchell is the Sacramento sleeper, but he’ll have to work for minutes with both Kevin Huerter and Malik Monk in the mix.

4. Los Angeles Lakers

2021-22 record: 33-49

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 45.5

Frascella’s prediction: 40-42

Fantasy outlook: This feels like the all “Stay Away” team. With LeBron, the worry is about rest, Anthony Davis can never stay healthy and Russell Westbrook could be traded into an uncertain situation. Scotty Pippen Jr. could end up a deep sleeper if the veteran Lakers fall off the map and head coach Darvin Ham wants to give his youngsters a shot.

3. Phoenix Suns

2021-22 record: 64-18

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 52.5

Frascella’s prediction: 48-34

Fantasy outlook: Chris Paul is now 37 years of age, so I can’t be worrying about minute management on my fantasy teams. Devin Booker, Mikal Bridges and Deandre Ayton are very safe plays, while Cam Johnson’s promotion to the starting lineup certainly improves his draft stock. I don’t really have a sleeper on this team. Paul, Booker, Bridges, Johnson and Ayton will swallow up all the collective usage.

2. Los Angeles Clippers

2021-22 record: 42-40

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 52.5

Frascella’s prediction: 49-33

Fantasy outlook: I never draft Kawhi Leonard because he disappears as often as Kyrie Irving does, but this might actually be the year. Paul George is clearly the secondary option, while Reggie Jackson, John Wall, Norman Powell, Ivica Zubac and Marcus Morris will have to fight for the rest of the fantasy scraps. Wall is the sleeper because there’s no pressure on him to perform or carry the team in any way.

1. Golden State Warriors

2021-22 record: 53-29

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 51.5

Frascella’s prediction: 52-30

Fantasy outlook: Steph Curry is an obvious first-round lock, but watch out for some resting scenarios. It gets messy after that. Draymond Green is already punching Jordan Poole in practice. Klay Thompson can still shoot the lights out, but how often will he play and how much regular season usage will he get? Talented center James Wiseman and under-the-radar Donte DiVincenzo are my sleepers for Dub Nation.

 

Southwest Division

5. San Antonio Spurs

2021-22 record: 34-48

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 22.5

Frascella’s prediction: 18-64

Fantasy outlook: When Keldon Johnson and Jakob Poeltl are your fantasy “studs,” what kind of shape is the roster in? Shooting guard Devin Vassell is probably my guy with PG Tre Jones being a sleeper relative to current ADP.

4. Houston Rockets

2021-22 record: 20-62

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 23.5

Frascella’s prediction: 21-61

Fantasy outlook: We’re going to like this team in fantasy and hate them for wins. Kevin Porter Jr., Jabari Smith and Alperen Sengun are all fantasy plays while bouncy shooting guard Jalen Green is obviously talented, but his ADP has gotten too out of control. Versatile forward Jae’Sean Tate is my sleeper, as Eric Gordon falls into the “likely to be traded” category (unless there are literally no takers).

3. Dallas Mavericks

2021-22 record: 52-30

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 48.5

Frascella’s prediction: 45-37

Fantasy outlook: Luka Doncic’s percentages can be annoying, but his out-of-this-world usage is undeniable. With Jalen Brunson and Kristaps Porzingis both gone, Spencer Dinwiddie is now Luka’s clear right-hand man. Center Christian Wood will be coming off the bench, but he’s probably the second-best fantasy bet on Jason Kidd’s hardworking squad. Dorian Finney-Smith and Maxi Kleber are my late-round sleepers in Dallas.

2. New Orleans Pelicans

2021-22 record: 36-46

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 44.5

Frascella’s prediction: 47-35

Fantasy outlook: With Zion Williamson, Brandon Ingram, C.J. McCollum and Jonas Valanciunas, this is undoubtedly one of the most talented teams in the NBA. However, we care about minutes, touches and usage in fantasy, so this is a bad situation. I suppose Devonte Graham is my de facto sleeper off the bench because Herbert Jones made too much of a name for himself to be considered a sleeper in year two.

1. Memphis Grizzlies

2021-22 record: 56-26

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 48.5

Frascella’s prediction: 49-33

Fantasy outlook: Electric Ja Morant is back and healthy, and his usage gets even more of a boost given Jaren Jackson’s right foot surgery. Overall I’m very impressed by these young Grizzlies, so go ahead and fire up Desmond Bane and Dillon Brooks in fantasy. Beware of Brooks’ occasionally horrific shooting nights, though. In JJJ’s absence, there are a lot of potential sleepers here: Ziaire Williams, Brandon Clarke and/or Santi Aldama, who is having a strong preseason.

 

Northwest Division

5. Oklahoma City Thunder

2021-22 record: 24-58

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 23.5

Frascella’s prediction: 20-62

Fantasy outlook: Shai-Gilgeous Alexander has a left MCL sprain, so GM Sam Presti will likley hold him out as long as he can to get OKC’s “tank” off to a good start. Josh Giddey is the obvious fantasy stud here, but we have to worry about OKC’s best players getting shut down during the fantasy playoffs. Aleksej Pokusevski looks like the sleeper, as he appears to have beaten out Darius Bazley for the starting PF job.

4. Utah Jazz

2021-22 record: 49-33

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 24.5

Frascella’s prediction: 27-55

Fantasy outlook: Collin Sexton takes over as the projected alpha here, while Jordan Clarkson, Lauri Markkanen and Malik Beasley are all worth fantasy looks relative to ADP. Kelly Olynyk is definitely Utah’s sleeper, as he could potentially end up their third or fourth all-around fantasy producer.

3. Portland Trail Blazers

2021-22 record: 27-55

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 39.5

Frascella’s prediction: 43-39

Fantasy outlook: If Damian Lillard stays healthy, he should be a monster in a bounce-back season, especially in the absence of shoot-first C.J. McCollum. Anfernee Simons, Josh Hart, Nassir Little, Jerami Grant and Jusuf Nurkic are all justifiable fantasy plays on this squad. The sleeper is defensive wizard Gary Payton II, but he’s out in the early going after core surgery.

2. Minnesota Timberwolves

2021-22 record: 46-36

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 48.5

Frascella’s prediction: 45-37

Fantasy outlook: I’m pretty much taking Anthony Edwards and nobody else. Rudy Gobert is going to cut into the “big” aspects of KAT’s stats while floor general D’Angelo Russell misses too many games for my liking. Kyle “Slow-Mo” Anderson is the sleeper as an all-around gadget player for Minnesota.

1. Denver Nuggets

2021-22 record: 48-34

2022-23 Vegas over/under: 49.5

Frascella’s prediction: 51-31

Fantasy outlook: Nikola Jokic is probably the greatest asset in the history of fantasy basketball while Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. are both back from injury in support. Explosive power forward Aaron Gordon is a decent mid-to-late round pick and combo guard “Bones” Hyland is the consensus Nugget sleeper.

 

FRASCELLA’S POWER RANKINGS AND PROJECTED WINS

1. Boston Celtics: 52

2. Miami Heat: 52

3. Golden State Warriors: 52

4. Brooklyn Nets: 51

5. Denver Nuggets: 51

6. Milwaukee Bucks: 50

7. Philadelphia 76ers: 50

8. Los Angeles Clippers: 49

9. Memphis Grizzlies: 49

10. Cleveland Cavaliers: 49

11. Phoenix Suns: 48

12. New Orleans Pelicans: 47

13. Toronto Raptors: 47

14. Minnesota Timberwolves: 46

15. Dallas Mavericks: 45

16. Atlanta Hawks: 43

17. Portland Trail Blazers: 43

18. Chicago Bulls: 42

19. New York Knicks: 41

20. Washington Wizards: 41

21. Los Angeles Lakers: 40

22. Charlotte Hornets: 38

23. Sacramento Kings: 36

24. Utah Jazz: 27

25. Orlando Magic: 26

26. Detroit Pistons: 24

27. Houston Rockets: 21

28. Oklahoma City Thunder: 20

29. Indiana Pacers: 19

30. San Antonio Spurs: 18

John Frascella is a published sports author who has been covering the NBA for 18 years. Follow him on Twitter @LegendSports7 and @FantasyBBLegend for fantasy sports and basketball analysis.