7 must-watch rookie matchups for the 2022-23 NBA season


The NBA on Wednesday officially unveiled the complete game and broadcast schedule for all 30 teams ahead of the start of the 2022-23 regular season on Tuesday, Oct. 18.

The regular season, which comprises of 82 games for each team, concludes on Sunday, April 9, 2023, with the play-in tournament set to run April 11-14. The first round of the playoffs will begin on Saturday, April 15, and will wrap up with the NBA Finals starting on June 1.

The annual release of the schedule marks a key moment as the dates of several marquee matchups become known. The unveiling also gives us our initial look at when we can expect the rookie class to take the floor for the first time.

With teams' schedules now officially unveiled, Rookie Wire went through and took a look at some of the most anticipated matchups between first-year players.

Note: Games listed in chronological order.

Paolo Banchero vs. Dejounte Murray


Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Matchup: Orlando Magic at Atlanta Hawks

Date: Friday, Oct. 21

By now, everyone has heard of the supposed beef between Paolo Banchero and Dejounte Murray. The two, who are both from Seattle, traded words earlier this month after playing in the annual Zeke-End Pro-Am hosted by Isaiah Thomas.

Throughout the game, Murray had a little bit extra for Banchero and often went at him on the court. While the exact origin of his apparent disdain toward Banchero is not really known, Murray took exception with how Banchero has apparently acted since becoming the No. 1 pick and let him know about it on social media.

In any case, the situation has added some intrigue to the first game between the Magic and Hawks, and fans won't have to wait long to see them on the court. The two teams play four times this season, and depending on how chippy things get on Oct. 21, the other three contests could be equally as entertaining.

Chet Holmgren vs. Magic


AP Photo/Jeff Swinger

Matchup: Orlando Magic at Oklahoma City Thunder

Date: Tuesday, Nov. 1 (TNT)

The Magic robbed basketball fans of the highly-anticipated matchup between the top two picks when they opted to sit Paolo Banchero after two games in Las Vegas.

Chet Holmgren still managed to put on a show, though, after recording 16 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots in a win over the Magic on July 11. The performance was one of two double-double efforts by Holmgren after the second pick played in five games.

While the matchup will give fans their first look at Banchero and Holmgren on the court, it will also be the first time Holmgren will play Jalen Suggs in the NBA. Of course, the two are each from Minnesota and were teammates at the Minnehaha Academy in Minneapolis. Holmgren is on the record as saying Suggs played a major role in recruiting him to go to Gonzaga as they were great friends in high school.

When the Magic and Thunder meet on national TV, the contest will have plenty of storylines to monitor and it should be worthy of a watch on TNT.

Jabari Smith Jr. vs. Magic


Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Matchup: Houston Rockets at Orlando Magic

Date: Monday, Nov. 7

Everyone thought the former Auburn standout would be the top pick in the NBA draft this year, including Smith himself. While he has no ill will toward the Magic, or even the Oklahoma City Thunder, for passing on him, Smith will certainly have this date circled on the schedule.

Smith had his first go at the Magic in the Las Vegas Summer League, recording 10 points, seven rebounds and three assists in a loss on July 7. Of course, the stakes will be much higher this time around when the two teams meet on Nov. 7.

Games that feature two of the top three draft picks can be quite entertaining, but when you add in the fact that the Magic passed on Smith, this contest has all the makings to be one of the best of the season for the two respective teams.

The second and final meeting between the two teams will be on Dec. 21.

Jaden Ivey vs. Keegan Murray


Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Matchup: Detroit Pistons at Sacramento Kings

Date: Sunday, Nov. 20

The Kings and Murray, the MVP of the Las Vegas Summer League, will host Ivey and the Pistons on Nov. 20 in the first matchup of the season between the two teams.

The two players, who were the fourth and fifth picks, respectively, were each among the standouts in Las Vegas, despite Ivey getting shutdown after basically just one game due to an ankle injury. They each should play large roles this season and could be a great matchup early in the year.

It will also be curious to see how Ivey is welcomed in Sacramento.

He was widely projected to be the fourth pick to the Kings this year but didn't sound like a player that wanted to land there during the pre-draft process and fell to the Pistons at No. 5. Kings fans likely haven't forgotten that and he will probably be greeted accordingly.

Chet Holmgren vs. Jabari Smith Jr.


Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Matchup: Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets

Date: Saturday, Nov. 26 (NBA TV)

Holmgren and Smith, who went second and third in the NBA draft, respectively, had their first matchup against each other in the Las Vegas Summer League.

Smith had 12 points, nine rebounds, four steals and three blocks to lead the Rockets to the win while Holmgren scored 12 points, eight rebounds and four blocks. The two were matched up together often and each had some success against the other.

Things will be different the next time they meet on the hardwood with the two teams seeing each other for the first time on Nov. 26. It should be one of the top rookie matchups of the season.

Dyson Daniels vs. Josh Giddey


Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images

Matchup: Oklahoma City Thunder at New Orleans Pelicans

Date: Monday, Nov. 28

The first meeting between the Pelicans and Thunder should have special meaning for Dyson Daniels and Josh Giddey as the two are each from Australia.

They were teammates at the NBA Global Academy in Canberra and have been great friends for several years. Of course, Giddey played in the NBL before getting drafted last year by the Thunder while Daniels was with the NBA G League Ignite.

Despite playing the same position, the two have different playing styles.

Daniels established himself as an elite defender last season with the Ignite. He saw great improvement throughout the year as a facilitator and is still growing in that area. Giddey, on the other hand, is a bit more flashy and serves as an excellent floor general for OKC.

Still, the first matchup of the season between Daniels and Giddey should be exciting for the two, and even the league as a whole to see some of its first draftees from the NBA Academy face off.

Bennedict Mathurin vs. Thunder


AP Photo/John Locher

Matchup: Indiana Pacers at Oklahoma City Thunder

Date: Wednesday, Jan. 18

There is quite a bit of excitement surrounding the arrival of Bennedict Mathurin this season in Indianapolis. He emerged as one of the top players in the country last season at Arizona and had himself a tremendous showing in the Las Vegas Summer League.

While watching Mathurin on a nightly basis will certainly be a treat for fans, the Pacers' games against the Thunder should be entertaining. Of course, it will give him an opportunity to face off against Chet Holmgren, the second pick.

The contest on Jan. 18 will also be his first against fellow Canadians Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Lu Dort.

He has played previously with Canada on the junior national team and will soon join the senior team for the upcoming 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup Qualifiers, likely alongside Gilgeous-Alexander and Dort.

Mathurin and Dort have forged a strong friendship over the years. Dort was on hand during the NBA draft in June to support Mathurin and the two even took in a Canadian Elite Basketball League in Montreal last month.

Facing off against his fellow countrymen will certainly have special meaning for Mathurin as the game represents two young up-and-coming squads in the NBA.



Story originally appeared on Rookie Wire


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