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How did NBA teams fair in calendar year 2022? What does it tell us about how the remainder of the 2022-23 could unfold?

Happy New Year!! The turn of the calendar may feel like turning a page for most people. However, the autumn-to-spring schedule of the NBA charges on.

But what if the NBA records were decided within the Gregorian-imposed construct of a single year? My curiosity led me to go through the standings and combine franchise records for regular season games played in 2022: the latter portion of the 2021-22 season and the current campaign up through New Year’s Eve. The results revealed some intriguing conclusions.

The Boston Celtics are the NBA’s King of the Hill for the year 2022. Their 60-22 record on the year leaves them as the lone team to hit the 60-win plateau. In the East, it places them a comfortable seven games ahead of the second-place Philadelphia.

It’s not too much of a surprise. The C’s notoriously turned their flailing 2021-22 season around shortly after New Year’s Day. After an anemic 17-19 start, Boston went 34-12 the rest of the way. They took this fortune into the playoffs by pulling off the only sweep of the postseason and reaching the Finals.

The offseason nor a controversy-induced coaching change were able to stoke the Celtics’ flame. Instead, they opened the campaign with a 26-10 start to the 2022-23 season.

The Memphis Grizzlies sit atop the West by winning percentage thanks to a 55-25 (.688). However, it’s the Phoenix Suns hold the most total wins in the conference with their 57-27 record. The Detroit Pistons set the floor in the East with their 28-60 ledger, while the Houston Rockets hold the league’s worst 2022 record at 20-62, picking up 10 wins each in both halves of the year.

While looking at the records and how both halves of the year composed them, I was also intrigued by the percentage differential between the Spring 2022 and Fall 2022 records. Which franchises have been consistent (or stagnant), which teams have dramatically improved, which teams have underwhelmed?

The Indiana Pacers earn the honor of most improved team, as their 20-17 second half record is a league-leading 30.1 percent improvement from their 11-35 first half record. After feeling like a rudderless ship for much of 2021-22, the trade deadline acquisition of Tyrese Haliburton as well as the draft-day additions of Bennedict Mathurin and Andrew Nembhard seem to have injected new life into Rick Carlisle’s club.

Conversely, the Charlotte Hornets have the largest decline in the NBA between first and second halves. After finishing 2021-22 24-22, they began 2022-23 by going 10-27. A 25.1-percent drop between halves. Their tumultuous offseason saw them hire a retread coach and lose their star forward due to off-court legal issues. Once the ball actually tipped off, the team then faced extended injury stints from star players LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward. Both have since returned, so perhaps there are better days for them in 2023.

In the West, the Sacramento Kings are the biggest improvement story. Their 19-15 second half mark is a 22.5 percent increase from their 15-30 first half record. Like Charlotte, the Kings also had a coaching change. In this case it worked for the better, bringing a more cohesive offense and increased defensive energy to California’s capital city.

The Phoenix Suns, on the other hand, have the largest decline in the Western Conference. After going 37-10 to cap off a 64-18 2021-22 season, the Suns have gone a much more lukewarm 20-17 to start 2022-23, a 24.7-percent drop-off.

For starters, Phoenix has a gaping hole at the power forward position due to Cameron Johnson’s long-term injury and Jae Crowder’s personal holdout. Additional injury stints from Chris Paul and Devin Booker have also hamstrung Phoenix’s team depth on on-court consistency.

The Utah Jazz, however, haven’t had a problem with consistency. Their 19-20 second-half record is only 0.2-percent worse than their 23-24 first half mark, making them the most consistent team in the league. This is the case despite a coaching change, massive roster upheaval, and even new uniforms! With all that, Utah’s standing this year is seen as a huge surprise, while their record at the end of last campaign was seen as a massive disappointment.

New Years’ is always a time of reflection on the year that was, and it was interesting to do it with the NBA standings. If these reflections tell me anything, it’s that the Celtics, 76ers, and Bucks remain the teams to beat in the East, while regression from the West’s top teams has made left the position for the Left Coast crown wide open.

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