Rejoice! Following a discordant drip of leakedindividualmatchups — and literally seconds after LeBron James signed an extension — the full 2022-23 NBA schedule was officially released. Yes, all 82 games! Let’s dive in.

  • Despite being projected to finish towards the bottom of the playoff picture, the Lakers, unsurprisingly, will play 39 times on national TV, the second-most in hoops.
  • L.A. has 12 back-to-backs (amongst the fewest), four of which don’t include travel in between. They have three five-game homestands, two five-game road trips, and one six-game road trip in December. They’ll be predominately road-bound (16 of 22 games) from Thanksgiving through New Year’s. Overall, the Lakers will travel roughly 40,000 miles.
  • They’ll enjoy 14 “rest” advantages.
  • 10 of the Lakers’ first 15 games will be at Crypto.com Arena, but 16 of their first 20 are against Western Conference foes. It won’t be easy for the Lakers to jump out to a flying start.
  • They’ll play 12 home games on Sundays (four in the afternoon) and 12 on Fridays.
  • They have 59 games before the All-Star break (Feb. 16-22) and 23 after.
  • LeBron needs to average 25 points per game to become the NBA’s all-time leading scorer by late January/early February (assuming good health) — perhaps in Boston or New York. If not, he’ll have enticing opportunities to surpass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s hallowed record in Los Angeles around that time, including against Giannis Antetokounmpo and Stephen Curry.

OK, let’s spotlight a few particularly intriguing contests, in chronological order.

Must-Watch Games on the Lakers’ Schedule

at Warriors, Oct. 18 (TNT)

The Lakers will tip off their season by witnessing the Golden State Warriors receive their championship rings and raise another banner, as Steph, Draymond, and Klay join LeBron in the Four Ring Club. The festivities should provide immediate inspiration for the Lakers, who will bring self-imposed championship expectations — the franchise’s and LeBron’s perpetual mentality — into the season.

LeBron vs. Steph is popcorn-worthy under any circumstances. Golden State presents arguably the trickiest possible first test for Darvin Ham and the revamped Lakers.

Somehow, the Lakers, who lost to the Warriors at home on opening night last year, have not won a season opener since 2016.

vs. Clippers, Oct. 20 (TNT)

Speaking of less-than-ideal trends, the Lakers have lost seven straight and 31 of their last 38(!) games to the Clippers. They can begin changing that tune in the home opener.

Presumably, this will be the first time Kawhi Leonard and Paul George face off against LeBron and Anthony Davis since opening night of 2020 (a Clippers win). Kawhi and PG will pose a healthy challenge for the Lakers’ questionable defense — bereft of big wings — right out of the gate.

The L.A. squads will next square off on Nov. 9, Jan. 24, and Apr. 5. (Notably, the league seems to be retreating from making the “Battle for LA” rivalry a marquee attraction; this will be the first season since 2018 in which the Crypto co-tenants won’t duke it out on either opening night or Christmas.

vs. Whatever Team Kevin Durant Is On

Miraculously, LeBron and Kevin Durant haven’t faced off since 2019. That is far too long for my liking.

The first possible LeBron vs. KD matchup is Nov. 13, when the Brooklyn Nets come to town. Of course, Durant doesn’t seem interested in playing for the Nets anymore.

Potential transactions could add further intrigue to a Durant-LeBron duel. For instance, KD going to the Boston Celtics would be a stirring wrinkle in the sport’s longest-running rivalry. Should Kyrie Irving wind up in Los Angeles…well, you get it. The Lakers and Celtics play on Dec. 13 (Crypto.com Arena) and Jan. 28 (TD Garden).

BTW, the Lakers visit Brooklyn on Jan. 30. Must-see TV if Kyrie is wearing purple and gold. On a related note, if Russell Westbrook is traded, his return to Crypto will be a sight to behold.

vs. Indiana Pacers, Nov. 28

First of all, there’s a chance this game gets dramatically spicier if Westbrook lands in Indiana — a distinct possibility.

Either way, this is an under-the-radar juicy showdown, thanks to Pacers rookie Bennedict Mathurin’s curious decision to give LeBron quintessential chalkboard material.

“A lot of people say he’s great,” the 20-year-old told the Washington Post in June. “I want to see how great he is. I don’t think anybody is better than me. He’s going to have to show me he’s better than me.”

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I’m sure LeBron will forget all about the comment and definitely won’t use it as motivation for an early-regular-season affair.

at Dallas Mavericks, Dec. 25 (ABC/ESPN)

LeBron has expressed his love for Luka Doncic on numerousoccasions. This could be the year Luka ascends even higher into the stratosphere and captures his first MVP — and he’ll get LeBron as a Christmas present. Sign me up.

For his career, Luka has averaged 21.8 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 7.9 assists against LeBron. In their one meeting in 2021-22, Doncic put up 25 points and eight rebounds, and five assists in a Dallas victory. They epically battledtwice early in 2019-20.

In general, the Mavs and Lakers have produced really fun games of late, including the Austin Reaves Coming Out Party last November — the most exuberant moment of L.A.’s season — and the Danny Green OT thriller.

Other Lakers games to bookmark:

  • at Milwaukee Bucks, Dec. 2: Ham’s return to Milwaukee, plus AD vs. Giannis rematch.
  • at Cleveland Cavaliers, Dec. 6: LeBron always puts on homecoming shows.
  • at Celtics, Dec. 18: With or without KD, this game carries obvious entertainment value.
  • vs. Houston Rockets, Jan. 16: The Lakers will play on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and MLK Day.
  • at New York Knicks, Jan. 31: LeBron was suspended for his team’s lone visit to Madison Square Garden last season. He’ll want to own the Mecca stage.
  • vs. Memphis Grizzlies, Mar. 7: Upon releasing the schedule, the Lakers announced that Pau Gasol’s No. 16 will be the 12th number retired by the franchise, before the Lakers take on his first team. That’ll be a special night.
  • Finally, vs. Utah Jazz, Apr. 9: Game 82. Considering where the Lakers have finished the last two seasons, it could very well be a must-win.