2022 has been a vintage year in the NBA with plenty of talking points both on and off the court.
Golden State Warriors returned to the top of the pile as they claimed a fourth championship in eight years, having missed out on the playoffs altogether in the two previous seasons, and we were treated to one of the best drafts in NBA history.
Both of those events feature in our five standout moments of 2022, as well as a couple of trade stories and an historic achievement.
Golden State were the dominant force in the NBA for a five-year period but following the 2018-19 season they drifted into relative obscurity. After losing the Finals Series in 2019 to Toronto Raptors, Kevin Durant departed, injuries had a huge impact and they struggled – missing out on the playoffs for two consecutive seasons.
The return of Klay Thompson from over two years on the sidelines, the emergence of Jordan Poole and, of course, the incredible displays of Stephen Curry changed all that and they went on to win the championship last season.
Perhaps the big moment for the Warriors last year was Curry finally winning a Finals MVP award. Curry has been the key man for the Dubs throughout their dominance but he had missed out on that individual honour in their three previous successes.
Last season he led the scoring for Golden State in five of their six games against Boston in the Finals, with a huge 43 points in Game 4 his highest total as the Warriors levelled the series at 2-2 before winning the final two games to see out the series.
Golden State are +750 to win the championship this season.
The biggest story in the NBA in 2022 turned out to be a non-story as two blockbuster summer trades failed to materialise.
Brooklyn Nets were thrown into turmoil when Kyrie Irving and then Kevin Durant requested trades, but ultimately no potential suitor was able to put together a package that interested the franchise.
The Nets stood firm and held on to both superstars despite a breakdown in their relationship with coach Steve Nash. Somewhat improbably, Brooklyn also kept Nash on as coach for the start of the season but he was quickly replaced by James Vaughan after a terrible start.
Vaughan's arrival sparked an upturn in form and now the Nets look genuine contenders once again and they are +750 to win the championship.
One man did manage to force a move away from Brooklyn earlier in the year as James Harden departed in a deal that seemingly came out of nowhere.
Ben Simmons appeared stranded in Philadelphia but in February a stunning move happened as Brooklyn's big three was broken up. Harden made the move to the Philadelphia 76ers, with Simmons joining the Nets having refused to play a single game for the Sixers in the first half of last season.
Paul Millsap also moved to Philadelphia as part of that deal, with Andre Drummond, Seth Curry and two draft picks heading to Brooklyn.
The deal was far more interesting off court than on it, as Simmons sat out the rest of the season with Brooklyn and Harden underwhelmed in Philly. The switch is perhaps paying dividends now, however, with Harden in fine form and Simmons starting to regain his confidence in Brooklyn.
The 2022 NBA Draft was huge – with three exciting prospects available. It was obvious that Jabari Smith Jr, Paolo Banchero and Chet Holmgren would be the first three players selected but the exact order was less clear.
Orlando Magic had the first pick and most pundits expected them to opt for Smith Jr as he seemed a better fit than Holmgren and they had taken little interest in Banchero in the preceding weeks. However, they surprised everyone by going for Duke product Banchero in what now looks an inspired move.
Smith has impressed on occasion at Houston after being selected with the third overall pick but he still looks a raw talent rather than the finished article, while Holmgren's season came to an end before it had even begun as he was cruelly ruled out for the entirety of the campaign with a foot fracture.
Banchero is starring for Orlando and is averaging 20.9 points-per-game and 6.7 rebounds, making him the leading contender for Rookie of the Year honours.
2022 has been the gift that has kept on giving in the NBA and one of the top moments came in the final days of the year.
Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic became the first player in the history of the league to record a 60-point triple-double in the overtime win over New York Knicks on 27th December as he finished with 60 points, 21 rebounds (both career-highs) and 10 assists in 47 minutes.
Doncic led the Mavs to the Western Conference finals last season and they are +1100 to go one better and win the conference outright.