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Key dates, storyline & contenders: Here’s our official NBA Season Guide

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NBA Season Guide 2023-24

The NBA season is finally here. From superstars moving to new teams, young guns ready to strive for greatness and champions ready to defend their title, the next eight months promise so much.

It’s been just a little over four months since the Denver Nuggets brought home their first NBA championship; their defence mission now begins, with plenty of new threats aiming to take them down.

It’s been an off-season of change throughout the league, with franchises’ marquee players such as Portland’s Damian Lillard and Washington’s Bradley Beal finding new homes alongside the league’s best. And now we get see how it all looks.

Even the competition itself has changed, with the introduction of the inaugural In-Season Tournament set to shake things up, and keep the start of the season even more entertaining than usual.

Many of the top teams in the league have reloaded their arsenal, either signing great new players or extending their current roster in an attempt to knock Denver off its pedestal.

With so much yet to unfold in the league, here’s everything you need to know going into the 2023/24 NBA season.

NBA trade rumours, free agency, 2023-24, Beal, Lillard, VanVleet
Kristaps Porzingis (left) joins Boston, while Bradley Beal (right) joins Phoenix.

Our NBA Season Guide for 2023-24

Get ready for a season like no other, with new elements of competitions, new super-teams and new talent that will shake up the NBA.

Each team has dusted off the cobwebs through the preseason and are now ready for the real thing — the tip-off to the season.

So let’s jump into all the key details you’re probably looking for.

When’s the NBA season start?

Wednesday October 25 in Australia – Tuesday October 24 in US

It’s an all-Western Conference opening day for the NBA this time around, with the defending champions, the Denver Nuggets, having their ring ceremony before hosting the reenergised Lakers.

The following game is a rivalry to keep an eye on this season, with the Golden State Warriors and new recruit Chris Paul, taking on his former team the Phoenix Suns in San Francisco.

nikola jokic, nba
Denver’s Nikola Jokic will be involved in the season-opener.

When does the In-Season Tournament begin?

November 3 – December 9

In its inaugural season, the In-Season Tournament consists of two stages – group play and knockout rounds. Group play will run from November 3 to November 28, with the knockout rounds to resume from early December.

The highest ranked teams from each conference will play a wild card team in the quarter-finals, whilst the other two group winners will take on each other. From there, it’s all knockout — with the semi-finals and championship game to be held in Las Vegas.

The final match is the only game that won’t go towards the regular season standings while all other matches count towards it.

It’s a fairly confusing process but we’ve simplified it – read more about it here.

NBA in season tournament
The NBA In-Season Tournament will no doubt be a key point of intrigue before Christmas.

Which Australians do we need to look out for?

We’ve already done the heavy lifting on that. Read our article below:

Where every Australian in the NBA is playing this season

But for an even more brief summary, stay with us here. Josh Giddey has taken over as Australia’s great hope to become the next superstar from down under. He’s a part of what should be a very competitive Oklahoma City side this year alongside superstar Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

As of the start of the season, there will be 14 Aussies in action in world basketball’s top league.

Who is the defending champion?

Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets enter the 2023-24 season as the reigning champions after defeating the Miami Heat 4-1 in their best of seven series.

Led by two-time MVP – and now NBA Finals MVP – Nikola Jokic, the Nuggets are a threat across the board with versatile players, a great defensive systems and All-Star leaders.

Expect them to have a serious chance of winning back-to-back championship this season.

Our top 5 contenders

5. Los Angeles Lakers

Midway through last season the Lakers sat outside the playoff bracket and serious questions were being asked of general manager Rob Pelinka, and his ability to construct a balanced roster.

Well, Pelinka flipped the script, built a western conference finals team and has reloaded for a championship run this season.

Led by LeBron James entering his 21st year in the league, and MVP hopeful Anthony Davis, this Los Angeles Lakers team can do special things.

4. Phoenix Suns

A new big three has emerged in Phoenix, with the franchise trading away key players such as DeAndre Ayton and Chris Paul to make room for former Washington star Bradley Beal.

With Devin Booker reaching his prime alongside Kevin Durant and Beal, this Phoenix side will be unstoppable on the defensive end – think about it. The third best defender will be on Beal!!

3. Boston Celtics

Some off-season moves have rejuvenated this Celtics team that are basically in a championship-or-bust window considering how incredible their team is.

Jayson Tatum is bound to become (if he isn’t already) a top three player in the NBA, with Jaylen Brown as the Robin to his Batman.

Bringing in Jrue Holiday in the blockbuster Damian Lillard trade to Milwaukee after letting go of Marcus Smart is an absolute upgrade with his elite defensive ability and offensive output as the third scoring option.

2. Denver Nuggets

To be the best, you’ve got to beat the best, and as the Nuggets are defending champions, respect has to be put on their name.

They are almost unchanged, with Jokic, Murray, Gordon and Porter Jr still there as the core of the group to lead the team back to promised land.

These superstars are only getting started with Gordon and Jokic the oldest at the age of only 28!

Giannis Antet Nikola Jokic image

1. Milwaukee Bucks

Coming in at Only Sports’ number one contender for the upcoming season is the new look Milwaukee Bucks, lead by what some are coin the ‘Freak Time’ duo – Damian Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo.

Needing to get out of Portland for his own good, Lillard has landed in what we consider the best potential championship position, as the Bucks won the title only three season ago.

Some have argued all the Bucks were missing were an elite perimeter scorer, which is exactly what Lillard is.

The Greek Freak, Giannis Antetokounmpo, will hunting his third MVP and second championship this season still alongside trusted teammates Brook Lopez and Khris Middleton.

Definitely the team to watch out for!

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