1. Lakers - They did win the championship last season. I’m not going to rain on L.A.’s parade, yet.
2. Heat – Wade, Lebron, Bosh, Haslem, Miller, Anthony, Chalmers, House. Z championship is on the horizon. They just have to dig down and take it.
3. Celtics – The Celtisaurs are going to have trouble keeping up with Miami’s firepower, as will everyone else. There’s a better chance Rosie O’Donell becomes hot than this team staying healthy all year.
4. Magic – Vince Carter is weighing them down. Look for him to be moved during the season. Chris Paul would take this squad to the next level and they should pursue him hard.
5. Mavericks – Their core of Dirk, Kidd, Haywood and Terry isn’t getting any younger but they boast the best depth in the league with a supporting cast of Beabouis, Butler, Chandler, and Marion.
6. Spurs – Remember the name Tiago Splitter, the Brazilian import who has been overseas. He is Duncan’s heir is going to make a big impact from day one. Tony Parker might be on his way out with the emergence of George Hill last year. The Spurs will will be much improved from last season.
7. Bulls – The Bulls struck big in free agency even without landing any of the big three. Boozer, Korver, and Brewer will take this team to another level offensively while new coach Tom Thibodeau (former Celtics assistant) will mold them into a force on the defensive end. It will be fun to watch Rose play with his new toys.
8. Thunder – Anytime you lock up one of the league’s top five players, as the Thunder did this summer with the Durant extension, it’s a great offseason. They have the best combination of financial flexibility and young talent in the league.
9. Jazz - Even after losing their franchise big in Boozer, they did a hell of a job replacing him with Al Jefferson, a potential top fifteen NBA player. Rookie Gordan Hayward will be critical in stretching the floor.
10. Hawks – Joe Johnson won the biggest payday of the offseason? That deal alone will paralyze this team in a few years financially.
11. Bucks – The Bucks were the league’s top overachievers last year. They went on the offensive during the offseason, re-signing Salmons, and acquiring Maggette and Gooden. I’m still not sold on Jennings and his 37% shooting from the field.
12. Rockets – The Rockets entire season will depend on the health of Yao. This might be his last hurrah.
13. Blazers – If Greg Oden is going to become something, anything, his contract year is the time to do it.
14. Nuggets - Harrington will give them a boost offensively, but will it be enough to keep Melo in town?
15. Suns - Minus Amare, they become a third-tier playoff team. They added Childress, Turkoglu, and Warrick, but as always, where is the defense going to come from?
16. Knicks - Felton and Stoudemire will allow them to play faster, and they should be among the Knicks should finish the league in the top echelon offensively. Gallinari’s improvement will be key.
17. Clippers – The odds of Blake Griffin suffering a freak accident by game one: 5/4. The Clippers curse must live on.
18. Grizzlies – Marc Gasol (Pau’s bro) is one of the most underrated big men in the game. The Grizzlies have the talent to be a playoff team, but do they have the experience and defensive prowess to take the next step?
19. Sixers – They will be improved with the draft’s most NBA-ready player in Evan Turner and the addition of coach Doug Collins.
20. Hornets - Just wait until the losses start piling up and Paul wants out again. Say hello to the lottery.
21. Bobcats – MJ has made some perplexing moves thus far, setting the team back in the process. Chandler for Dampier?
22. Pacers – Things haven’t been the same ever since the Ron Artest Brawl six years ago. Average team at best.
23. Pistons - Year three of rebuilding does not look promising, unless Monroe makes an immediate impact.
24. Wizards - Count me as one of the few non-believers in John Wall. Yes, he has the insane athleticism but is he skilled enough to be a top-tier point guard?
25. Warriors - Ellis and Curry are fun to watch, but this team is very far from relevancy. Lee and Wright were nice additions.
26. Kings – Cousins will go down as the best player of this draft, so long as he doesn’t have any Beasley moments.
27. Cavaliers - Ouch. That fall hurt. How long until this franchise goes under?
28. Raptors – One of the biggest drop-offs of 2010 after losing Bosh in free agency.
29. Timberwolves – Michael Beasley will become a star as the go-to guy in Minnesota. I kid you not, the guy’s going to get it together. What’s there to do in Minnesota?
30. Nets – They received some help in Morrow, Favors, and Outlaw. That should be good for another 8 wins!