1. Miami Heat
The best team from last season brings all important players back, and adds sharpshooters Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. And if you forgot, they have the best and most consistent player in the game, LeBron.
2. O.K.C. Thunder
People are underestimating Kevin Martin. Sure, he can't defend and is injured a lot, but when he's healthy he's a sharpshooter from deep and can heat up quick. Ibaka will improve, and this team will battle the Lakers for the Top spot in the West.
3. L.A. Lakers
Continuity won't be a strength for this team, but they won't have too much of a problem working together. If they stay healthy, this team is too talented to not go places, with a starting 5 sporting 4 All-Star caliber players.
4. San Antonio
The Spurs once again will contend for the Western Title, but once again a lack of star power could bite them. Ginobili and Duncan aren't what they once were, and Parker can't carry them past the Thunder or Lakers.
Garnett and Pierce tack on another year and thus take another baby step backwards, but the continued resurgence of Rondo, and young talent around him makes this team worth keeping tabs on.
This team is so well built minus lack of a star player to lean on. A true point guard, versatile bigs, scoring and defense on the wings, and depth. And coaching.
The Hawks, without Joe Johnson, will be better, but not because they lost him. Horford is healthy, and they got Lou Williams to help replace the scoring. And expect Jeff Teague to make big improvements.
Paul and Griffin are a hell of a duo, but I worry about the depth and injury concerns of this team. Billups is out for a little while, Butler is 32 and has been injured much of the last 4 seasons, and this team isn't very deep.
Rudy Gay and Randolph only started 8 games combined last season, and they still found a way into the playoffs. If they play 60 apiece they'll be very good.
The worse version of the Lakers, in a way. A team that spend way over the cap to field a great starting five. The difference is their starters aren't as good, nor is their bench.
If Bynum can stay healthy for most of the season, Philly can be really good. They have ridiculous depth on the wings and at PF. The issue is they have no consistent scoring options besides Bynum, and have no depth at point.
The Bulls played most of last season without Rose and won the top spot in the East. They'll be OK.
Surprise. I see this, because they added a talented Point Guard in Lowry, Bargnani presumably will play more than 31 games, DeMar DeRozan will become a 20-point scorer, they have flexibility on the wings, and Dwyane Casey makes them defend.
When they get Rubio and Love back, this team will be able to challenge the best of the West. Adding Roy and Kirilenko helps their cause.
15. Golden State
Two of their top players have a hard time staying healthy (Curry and Bogut), but if they can get a reasonable amount of games from them both, this team will battle hard for the final spot in the West. The emergence of 2nd year player Klay Thompson will be the spark for this team.
The Bucks will be made or broken by the results of the Ellis-Jennings experiement. They will struggle on defense, but their offense could more than make up for it. They have a plethora of big men that can all log minutes, although they lack anyone truly talented besides Ilyasova. They could struggle with floor spacing if Mike Dunleavy gets injured at any point.
The Pacers are very balanced, especially through their starting five. The issue is the serious lack of scoring from the bench.
The Jazz simply don't have enough backcourt scoring to hang with some of the best teams, but they're strength in the paint will keep them consistent. They have 4 very talented and physical bigs, but unless they make a move or get a big improvement from a player like Alec Burks, it won't be enough to nab a playoff spot.
Dirk will be out for about a month to start the season. During that time, O.J. Mayo will be their only scorer on the court. I'm worried about this team's depth, especially at the guard positions, but also at Center.
Wall is out for a month, and they will struggle while he's gone, but with him they are a decent team. They have a solid stable of big men and Bradley Beal to complement Wall, despite their lack of depth at guard.
21. New York
Carmelo is going to score enough to prevent this team from being a bottom feeder, but that's all. Amar'e out for 2 months, meaning Melo's sidekick scorer will be J.R. Smith, and Steve Novak, arguably the NBA's worst rebounding big man will play a lot.
23. New Orleans
This team has a top flight scorer in Gordon, but he hasn't been able to stay fully healthy lately. And around him, they have so much youth that isn't ready to shine yet. Their time will come, but for this year the Hornets will be competitive.
This season, DeMarcus Cousins will cement himself as a Top 3 Center in the league, but won't get enough notice with the Kings dwelling near the bottom. Cousins' efforts plus Tyreke Evans together can carry the team to around 30 wins.
LaMarcus Aldridge is an All-Star, but he's alone out there. Lillard and Leonard are too young to be consistently counted on, despite their summer league performances. Batum and Matthews are solid on the wings, but they are thin behind those two.
The Suns are really going to miss Nash. They added Dragic, but he's not takning them anywhere. Gortat is a solid center and Beasley can surprise you with how he can score, but ultimately this team isn't very good.
Those thinking Harden is a superstar who's being held back by Westbrook and Durant don't watch closely enough. He's good, he may make the All-Star game but he and Jeremy Lin are going to struggle to do anything with their inexperienced and unproven supporting cast.
If Greg Monroe averages over 18 and 10, Knight makes strides and Drummond shows any improvements at all, this year will be a success regardless of their record, which won't be pretty.
This season will show you how little they got back for Howard. Afflalo is great when he's your 4th best player, not your best player. Around him, they have overpaid players who've lost their games and young, raw guys who can't be expected to do anything yet.
The Bobcats won't break their own woeful winning percentage record, but they indeed will be the worst again. Mullens at least might not be that bad, and they're hoping Kemba can show signs of improvement.
Eastern Conference Championship Series
Heat Def. Celtics 4-2
Western Conference Championship Series
Thunder Def. Lakers 4-3
NBA Championship Series
Heat Def. Thunder 4-2
Kevin Durant, OKC
He's going to average right under 30 again, and I think his assist numbers while improve, while his team tops the West.
Coach Of The Year
Larry Drew, Atlanta
If the Hawks indeed get the 3rd seed in the East, I don't see how anyone else can win it.
Rookie Of Year
Davis is going to play the most minutes besides maybe Bradley Beal and Lillard, but Davis is the most NBA-ready for the role he will fill. 12 points, 9 rebounds, 2 blocks per game, and he brings it home.
If he leads the league in blocks my a mile again, he's going to win it this time around.
Most Improved Player
Thompson's numbers greatly improved when his minutes did after Ellis got traded. With a 30+ minute per game role and some off season improvements, he's going to be on the bubble for an All-Star spot.