15. Charlotte Bobcats
2011-12 Record: 7-59 (.106)
2012-13 Prediction: 17-65 (.207)
A 10-win improvement is pretty solid, but unfortunately the Charlotte Bobcats are still incredibly young and will need some time before they can claw their way into the top half of the Eastern Conference.
The team made some moves to improve its immediate future, bringing in Ramon Sessions, Brendan Haywood and Ben Gordon, but these players are not going to make a tremendous difference.
Haywood is a defensive-minded big man who is effective in a limited role, while Gordon can be an electric scorer at times, but they're not going to take this club too far. Even though Session's playmaking will help the team to a few more wins, it will be another rough year for the Bobcats.
Michael Kidd-Gilchrist should be able to make an immediate impact on both ends of the court, and Gerald Henderson, Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo will all be better, but this is still the beginning of a long rebuilding process for Charlotte.
14. Cleveland Cavaliers
2011-12 Record: 21-45 (.318)
2012-13 Prediction: 23-59 (.280)
Much like Charlotte, the Cleveland Cavaliers are in the midst of a rebuilding project. While they already have their franchise player in Kyrie Irving, they are still banking on a number of very young, inexperienced players to carry the team next season.
The loss of Antawn Jamison, a great veteran presence and scoring power forward, will certainly hurt. He was a nice second option behind Irving.
The team, somewhat surprisingly, drafted Dion Waiters fourth overall and then traded up with Dallas to grab Tyler Zeller. Both could be good rotation players in the future, and Waiters may have star potential, but it will take them some time to get acclimated to the NBA game.
The frontcourt of Anderson Varejao and Tristan Thompson is great defensively and on the glass but does not provide much scoring punch. Ultimately, the next season for Cleveland will be more about bringing in another high lottery pick than making a playoff push.
13. Detroit Pistons
2011-12 Record: 25-41 (.379)
2012-13 Prediction: 27-55 (.329)
It is going to be another tough season for the Detroit Pistons, but the team finally has a few pieces that it can build around long-term. Brandon Knight, Greg Monroe and ninth overall pick Andre Drummond are the new core for the Pistons.
The team will center its 2012-13 campaign on getting the three as much experience as possible.
Monroe has emerged as a dominant big man with his ability to score in the post, defend, rebound and make plays off the block. He is one of the league's top post passers and an incredibly skilled forward who will likely be the team's first option on offense.
Tayshaun Prince can still score and play solid perimeter defense, while Rodney Stuckey is an explosive combo guard with great range, but having Knight and Drummond learning on the job will cost the team some wins. This is for the greater good though, as this team could be quite formidable in a few seasons.
12. Toronto Raptors
2011-12 Record: 23-43 (.348)
2012-13 Prediction: 31-51 (.378)
The Toronto Raptors will have to mesh a number of young pieces together next season. This means their record could suffer. However, they actually have plenty of talent on their roster and just need some experience playing as a unit.
Rookies Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas will be counted on to produce at a high level from day one, with both potentially being starters by year's end. They each possess tremendous talent, Valanciunas as an inside threat and rebounder and Ross as a scorer and athletic defender, but they are young and will experience the typical freshman ups and downs.
New acquisitions Landry Fields and Kyle Lowry are strong defenders and talented backcourt players who will help the team win immediately, but this does make the backcourt rotation, which already features DeMar DeRozan and Jose Calderon, even more crowded.
Next season won't be stellar for the Raptors, but I believe they are a team to watch for in 2013-14.