2022-23 Kia Season Preview

All-League Pass Team for 2022-23 season

Identifying must-see players and breakout candidates on NBA League Pass this season.

Whether it’s their talented bigs or high-flying guards, the Cavaliers should be a fun watch this season.

All the promotion is for opening night, but the NBA junkies know what’s next.

Yes. Wednesday, Oct. 19 is the official start of League Pass Season, with 10 of the night’s 12 games — including Pelicans vs. Nets — reserved for those with a League Pass subscription.

The returns of Zion Williamson and Ben Simmons are a great reason to have League Pass. But the value for the fiends is in being able to watch every team, every night. Everybody knows who Stephen Curry and Ja Morant are, but it’s only the League Pass zealots who can appreciate Richaun Holmes and Kenrich Williams.

With that, we present the All-League Pass Team.

To earn a place on the list below, you have to be from a League Pass team, one that isn’t featured on national TV very often. We’re limiting eligibility to players from the 12 teams with fewer than 12 national TV appearances (including NBA TV). Here are those 12 teams:

• Charlotte, Cleveland, Detroit, Houston, Indiana, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Sacramento, San Antonio, Toronto, Utah, Washington

The 2022-23 season could be a struggle for most of these teams, but there are always reasons (and players) to watch. A couple of them will be really good and, appropriately, have multiple representatives on the All-League Pass Team, but we’re doing this in the style of the MLB All-Star Game, where each of the 12 teams gets at least one representative.

With all of that in mind, here are the first and second team All-League Pass squads with analysis, breakout candidates and under-the-radar players to watch for each position.

1. Point guard

First team: Darius Garland, Cleveland — One of five players who averaged at least 20 points and eight assists last season. His handle is smooth, but he can be relentless in attacking off the pick-and-roll, getting his own buckets or setting up his teammates.

Darius Garland floater

Second team: Fred VanVleet, Toronto — Will launch some audacious 3s, but it’s the way he’ll attack the ball on defense — sometimes leaving his man open to poach from an opposing ball-handler — that makes him most fun to watch.

Breakout candidate: Cade Cunningham, Detroit — Big guard who’s quickly evolving into a high-level playmaker. One of those “plays at his own pace” guys, and he already has the one-hand, cross-court pass in his pick-and-roll bag.

For the connoisseur: Tyrese Haliburton, Indiana — His game (and his shot) is quirky, but effective. He’ll have a high assist/turnover ratio, even if he doesn’t know where he’s going with the ball when he leaves the floor.

Tyrese Haliburton drive-and-kick assist

2. Shooting guard

First team: Donovan Mitchell, Cleveland — His meter tilts more toward scoring, but he’ll recognize when the defense is tilting his way. And when he gets downhill, watch for the Eurostep …

Donovan Mitchell Eurostep

Second team: Bradley Beal, Washington — Super-smooth bucket-getter who’s moved most of his bucket-getting to inside the arc. Really loves to shoot off a left-hand dribble.

Breakout candidate: Jalen Green, Houston — Came into the league last year with ridiculous quickness and has seemingly added polish every week.

For the connoisseur: Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, Oklahoma City — The league’s leader in drives per game in each of the last two seasons. The funky cadence is mesmerizing …

Shai Gilgeous-Alexander drive

3. Small forward

First team: Scottie Barnes, Toronto — We still don’t know what kind of player the reigning Kia Rookie of the Year will be, but we do know that he likes to use his size against smaller guards and wings.

Scottie Barnes seal vs. Mikal Bridges

Second team: Gordon Hayward, Charlotte — Overshadowed by LaMelo Ball in Charlotte and his inability to stay healthy is an issue, but can be a go-to guy when the Hornets need a bucket. A small forward who’s willing to be a screener so he can get matched up vs. guards or slip into space.

Breakout candidate: Franz Wagner, Orlando — A big forward who can do almost everything offensively. Sometimes, he’s the ball-handler on pick-and-rolls and sometimes, he’s the roll man. Either way, he’s making plays.

For the connoisseur: Chris Duarte, Indiana — Came into the league with offensive polish and unafraid to call his own number. Probably wouldn’t mind isolating on every possession, but he moves well without the ball.

Chris Duarte layup vs. New York

4. Power forward

First team: Pascal Siakam, Toronto — Unafraid to take inefficient shots with either hand or off either foot. Also, a superior defender when he’s engaged …

Second team: Evan Mobley — Bouncy big whose skill development is as intriguing as anything in this league. The Cavs will put him at the top of a 3-2 zone, which is kind of terrorizing for opposing guards.

Breakout candidate: Paolo Banchero, Orlando — With the Magic lacking starting-caliber guards, they’re already leaning on the No. 1 pick (as well as Wagner) for playmaking. You don’t often see a 6-10 rookie as the ball-handler in pick-and-roll, but this is the second year in a row where it’ll be happening in Orlando.

For the connoisseur: Jarred Vanderbilt, Utah — Limited offensively, except for a Rodman-esque relentlessness on the offensive glass …

Jarred Vanderbilt offensive rebound

5. Center

First team: Domantas Sabonis, Sacramento — Will hang out at the high post and orchestrate the Kings’ offense (mostly via dribble-handoffs) all night … until he’s ready to bully somebody under the basket …

Domantas Sabonis layup

Second team: Jarrett Allen, Cleveland — Has come a long way offensively over his five years in the league, but most of the highlights are on the other end of the floor, because he’s absolutely unafraid to stick his hand in front of the rim, no matter how hard the opponent is trying to dunk the ball.

Breakout candidate: Alperen Sengun, Houston — Maybe the most idiosyncratic player on The All-League Pass Team, which is saying a lot. Would throw all his passes behind his back if his coaches would let him.

For the connoisseur: Jakob Poeltl, San Antonio — Makes gangliness work. One of the league’s best rim protectors, who’ll clean up some of his younger teammates’ defensive mistakes. Also, a lowkey dime-dropper who averaged 6.6 assists per 36 minutes in the preseason …

Jakob Poeltl assist to Devin Vassell

6. Reserves

First team: Kevin Love, Cleveland — The five-time All-Star has evolved into a 3-point gunner, complementing both Allen and Mobley when he comes off the Cavs’ bench. If he’s open beyond the arc, he wants the ball and is ready to shoot …

Kevin Love 3-pointer

Second team: Richaun Holmes, Sacramento — King of the push shot who’ll just nuzzle into whatever space you give him in the paint and shoot from there.

Breakout candidate: Jalen Williams, Oklahoma City — The Thunder gave the No. 12 pick in this year’s Draft the keys to the second-unit offense, and he did well with them, averaging 19.7 points (on 61% shooting) and 7.1 assists per 36 minutes. One particular dime to the man listed below was particularly tasty. And the aesthetic – thick body, short shorts, big afro – should be a League Pass favorite.

For the connoisseur: Kenrich Williams, Oklahoma City — Speaking of aesthetics… Come for the old-school Shag haircut, but stay for Williams being a plus-minus All-Star, a guy who doesn’t put up numbers, but just makes his team better on both ends of the floor. Timely cuts and defensive activity are his specialties …

Kenrich Williams defense

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John Schuhmann is a senior stats analyst for NBA.com. You can e-mail him here, find his archive here and follow him on Twitter.

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