The NBA season is getting closer and closer and I can't wait.
With the 2011-12 season likely being remembered as "The Year of LeBron James," the 2012-13 edition looks to be just as exciting.
With the offseason, the Summer League and the Olympics behind us, each team's roster is basically set, barring a late free-agency signing.
Here is the best-case win-loss record for each team. This article obviously does not take into consideration potential trades and signings.
The Atlanta Hawks were able to rid themselves of one of the most horrendous contracts in NBA history, when they traded Joe Johnson to the Nets for expiring contracts.
The deal makes Atlanta a possible free-agent destination in the future, especially if Josh Smith decides to re-sign this season.
However, losing Johnson will prove to be costly for the time being, considering that he is an above-average scorer and solid wing defender.
There will be a lot of pressure on Lou Williams to perform, because he will need to shoulder most of the scoring load as the probable sixth man of the team.
Even still, the Hawks will likely be starting two below-average players at the 2 and 3, while playing undersized guys at the power forward and center positions, in Josh Smith and Al Horford.
Look for the team to struggle to make the playoffs in 2013.
Best-Case Record: 41-41
Fresh off an immensely traumatizing Eastern Conference Finals loss to the Miami Heat, Boston Celtics general manager Danny Ainge began to retool his roster.
Once considered a weakness, their bench has become one of the deepest in the league, with second-unit players like Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox and Jared Sullinger now in Beantown.
Coupling a deep bench with an above-average starting five usually leads to a team reaching elite status, and this fact is no different for the Celtics.
Led by Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, Boston will enter this season as the second-best team in the Eastern Conference behind the Miami Heat and will head into the playoffs with at least a top-four seed.
I wouldn't be surprised if the Celtics locked up the No. 2 seed in their hopes of winning their second title in the past six years.
Best-Case Record: 57-25
Everybody is raving about the Brooklyn Nets "Core Four" of Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace and Brook Lopez, but I am impressed with their underrated bench and role players.
With Kris Humphries, MarShon Brooks, Euroleague scoring champion Mirza Teletovic and Jeremy Evans in the fold, the Nets are legitimate contenders to win the Atlantic Division.
In their first season in Brooklyn, the Nets will make the playoffs and might even make some noise in the postseason.
The key will be Williams' play, as he is the superstar and key cog of the roster. If he can complement the players around him well, the Nets might be able to shock everyone and win a deep Atlantic Division.
It seems like the Nets are going to always be a middling team in the East, especially after they lost out on Dwight Howard.
Best-Case Record: 51-31
Fresh off one of the worst seasons in NBA history, the Charlotte Bobcats look to begin the slow and arduous rebuilding process.
Drafting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist was a good start and general manager Rich Cho has orchestrated several smart maneuvers that will keep the Bobcats from challenging the worst percentage mark, which they set this past season.
However, the improvements Cho has made do not signal that Charlotte will be a playoff contender any time soon.
The Bobcats are definitely more than a few lottery picks away from being a playoff team and will be stuck near the bottom of the league for the next three to four seasons.
If Charlotte can crack 15 wins, the season will be a success and around 20 wins is probably their maximum limit.
Best-Case Record: 19-63
The Chicago Bulls will begin next season without the services of their hometown former MVP Derrick Rose, as he recovers from ACL surgery after tearing the ligament in the first round of the playoffs.
Will Chicago likely boast the best record in the Eastern Conference without D-Rose? Probably not.
They disassembled most of their "Bench Mob" including Omer Asik, C.J. Watson, Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver. Kirk Hinrich, Nazr Mohammed and Marco Belinelli will take their places.
Even without Rose for more than half of the season, the Bulls should be in the mix for the four seed, along with the Brooklyn Nets and New York Knicks.
Remember, this team was 18-9 when Rose was nursing a bad hamstring, including wins over the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat. If the point guard comes back strong, the Bulls might even come back and win the Central Division.
Best-Case Record: 53-29
Kyrie Irving was the main story for the Cleveland Cavaliers this past season, as he averaged 18.5 points and 5.4 assists in his rookie campaign.
For some reason, many pundits have the Cavs ending the season with a winning record, despite having basically no veteran presence nor a viable wing scorer.
I would be shocked if Cleveland went 41-41 this season, especially as the rest of the league adjusts Irving.
While drafting Dion Waiters and Tyler Zeller will keep the Cavaliers on the right track, no player short of an All-Star will put Cleveland into the playoffs next season.
There is simply just not enough depth for this team to compete with ones like the Bucks, Hawks or even the Raptors.
Best-Case Record: 30-52
Slowly but surely, the Detroit Pistons are building the base for a successful franchise, with first-rounders Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight and rookie Andre Drummond.
If Drummond is able to pan out, the Pistons could possess the best frontcourt in basketball, as the lanky shot-blocker complements a smoother and more refined Monroe extremely well.
A frontcourt of Knight and Rodney Stuckey definitely packs a scoring punch, but neither player could take the reins of the point guard position.
With this in mind, Detroit is still a few years away from contending, as they lack the necessary depth to be a playoff team.
Even so, 30-plus wins would be a good sign for this young team for the upcoming season and even future ones.
Best-Case Record: 34-48
Last season was the Indiana Pacers' coming-out party, as the team improved from the No. 8 seed in the East to the No. 3, even though they only added David West.
The Pacers will return basically their entire core, with the exception of Darren Collison, who was traded to the Mavericks, along with Dahntay Jones for Ian Mahinmi. In his place will be D.J. Augustin, who compares favorably to the UCLA graduate.
What is even scarier about the Pacers is the fact that they will have money to play with next summer, as they look to upgrade at the power forward position, possibly signing Paul Millsap.
With this current roster, the Pacers will struggle to compete with the Miami Heat, especially if the defending champions can remain healthy.
Even so, look for the Pacers to win 50-plus games this season quite easily, especially with Derrick Rose out for most of the season.
Best-Case Record: 55-27
LeBron James finally climbed the mountain that Skip Bayless doubted he ever would, when he won his first NBA title and Finals MVP in the same postseason.
For the past two seasons, the Heat have earned the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference, due in part because they seem to take a few games off coupled with the fact that the Bulls are such a great regular-season team.
However, with Rose out for most of the season, I see Miami finally earning the No. 1 seed in the East and winning 60 games this season too.
Even so, nobody will really care if the Heat win 60-plus games at the end of the day, especially if they fall short of winning a second-straight title.
Best-Case Record: 64-18
The Milwaukee Bucks quietly had one of the better offseasons, as they look to get back to the playoffs after being a lottery team for the past two years.
The Bucks have a solid starting five that includes Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Ersan Illyasova and Samuel Dalembert, with a bench of Mike Dunleavy, Luc Richard Mbah Moute, Ekpe Udoh and Tobias Harris.
Add recently-drafted John Henson into the mix and Milwaukee looks like a legitimate threat to earn the No. 7 or No. 8 seed in the Eastern Conference.
The major question will be whether Ellis and Jennings, two similar players offensively, can co-exist and if Jennings can become more of a point guard and less of a 2.
Look for the Bucks to finish the season above .500, especially if Harris has a breakout season and takes control of the small forward position.
Best-Case Record: 43-39
Keeping Mike Woodson will definitely improve the New York Knicks' chances of improving from a disappointing finish from last year, but Gotham City's most well-known team still has major issues to deal with.
For one, Amar'e Stoudemire and Carmelo Anthony are still on the same team. Both players are extremely similar in their offensive repertoire and do not complement each other while on the court.
In addition, J.R. Smith will be an inefficient starter at the 2, while Iman Shumpert rehabs from ACL surgery, giving the Knicks three offense-oriented starters in Anthony, Stoudemire and him.
On paper, New York is a legitimate threat to the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference.
However, being an elite team on paper means nothing. Before New York approaches the top two or three of the East, they probably need to deal Stoudemire for a power forward that better fits this roster.
Best-Case Record: 49-33
Rejoice Orlando fans, the "Dwightmare" is finally over and the Magic can finally begin to rebuild their franchise from the ground up.
However, I must admit that the return that general manager Rob Hennigan got in return for D-12 was a lot worse than I expected at first.
Sure, Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington are solid role players and Nikola Vucevic and Mo Harkless have the potential to be rotation guys, but there was no star power acquired in this deal.
The Magic were the biggest loser among the four teams involved, as they were not able to even get Pau Gasol from the Lakers.
Those first-round picks that they also got in the deal will likely render to be useless, especially since the Nuggets, 76ers and Lakers will all be playoff contenders for the conceivable future.
At the end of the day, Orlando might have given Howard up for a little less than they should have. Even so, they will be in the hunt for a top-three lottery pick, which can never hurt the rebuilding process.
Best-Case Record: 22-60
The biggest winner of the Dwight Howard blockbuster was without a doubt the Philadelphia 76ers.
When you give up Andre Iguodala and essentially benchwarmers like Nikola Vucevic and Mo Harkless for the second-best center in the league in Andrew Bynum, you have to consider that to be a success.
Heading into this season, the center was Philadelphia's biggest hole, with Kwame Brown penciled in as the starter. Bynum is a huge upgrade over Brown. Just ask Stephen A. Smith his opinion of the former No. 1 overall pick.
We knew that the 76ers were deep enough to contend with the best, but they lacked a franchise player who could put them over the top.
If Bynum is motivated and plays hard, the 76ers might have found their alpha-dog, who brings back memories of Moses Malone.
Best-Case Record: 52-30
The Toronto Raptors did miss out on getting Steve Nash, a signing which would have put them squarely in the playoff picture.
However, acquiring Kyle Lowry for a future draft pick was a solid get, and it finally gives Demar DeRozan and company a defensive stalwart, with above-average court vision.
Lowry is not as great of a passer as Jose Calderon is, but he is a better overall player.
With Jonas Valanciunas coming to Toronto this season, the Raptors even have one of the better frontlines in the league with the Lithuanian and Andrea Bargnani.
I wouldn't be surprised to the see the Raptors in the playoff hunt this season, with a .500 record not out of the question. The real issue for this team is their bench, which is relatively shallow.
Best-Case Record: 40-42
The Washington Wizards made a bigger splash than most realize when they traded the decrepit Rashard Lewis for two potential starters in Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor.
Coupling those two former Hornets with Bradley Beal gives the Wizards a dependable starting five of John Wall, Nene, Okafor, Ariza and Beal.
Add Kevin Seraphin and Jordan Crawford to the mix and Washington actually looks like a legitimate playoff contender for 2013.
The Wizards' potential success hinges on John Wall's play. If the former Kentucky point guard can cut down on his turnovers and improve his jump shot, Washington has a pretty good chance at being playoff-bound.
If not, the Wizards will just become one of those teams stuck in the 10-12 spots.
Best-Case Record: 43-39
The Mavericks began their offseason disappointingly after failing to land hometown hero Deron Williams, who decided to re-up with the Brooklyn Nets.
The losses of Jason Terry and Jason Kidd added to their misery and it seemed like for the first time in forever the Mavericks were going to be a non-playoff team.
That was until they closed the offseason in impressive fashion. Darren Collison, Dahntay Jones, O.J. Mayo, Chris Kaman and Elton Brand will give the Mavs added depth and Dirk Nowitzki a solid supporting cast.
Those moves have made Dallas a virtual playoff lock, while also keeping them in play for Dwight Howard if he is a free agent in 2013.
This season, the Mavericks will likely earn a No. 6 or No. 7 seed in the rugged Western Conference. Not bad for a team who was on the outside-looking-in a few weeks ago.
Best-Case Record: 48-34
The biggest two winners of the Dwight Howard four-team deal might have been the two teams that weren't involved directly with D-12.
While the 76ers picked up the second-best center in the league in Andrew Bynum, the Nuggets picked up an elite perimeter defender in Andre Iguodala for role players.
The losses of Arron Afflalo and Al Harrington will certainly hurt, but players like Wilson Chandler and Kenneth Faried can step up in their places.
Iguodala is a top-25 player, who has the ability to put the Nuggets in the upper echelon of the Western Conference. His versatility will certainly be of use in Denver, where he can play at the 2 and 3 depending on the lineup.
Even though the Nuggets are a legitimate 50-win team, they still lack a scoring wing player that would put them over the Lakers or the Thunder.
Best-Case Record: 52-30
The Golden State Warriors are a relevant postseason threat for the first time since the 2007-08 season, when the Dubs finished outside of the playoffs with the highest winning percentage ever.
Jarrett Jack, Draymond Green, Carl Landry, Festus Ezeli and Harrison Barnes give the Warriors five more rotation players to work with.
If the roster remains healthy, the Warriors have a legitimate shot at getting a bottom-three playoff spot in the Western Conference.
However, both of the team's stars, Andrew Bogut and Stephen Curry, have struggled with injuries over the past few years.
Golden State will definitely improve from last year, the question is by how much. 40 wins is a definite possibility for the Dubs.
Best-Case Record: 42-40
In the midst of basically taking apart their entire roster, the Houston Rockets tried and failed to acquire Dwight Howard or any elite player.
Alas, the Rockets are a mess right now, with no identity and two back-loaded contracts in Omer Asik's and Jeremy Lin's.
If this roster stays the same for this upcoming season, this is one of the least experienced teams in the Western Conference.
While Jeremy Lamb, Royce White and Terrence Jones have the ability to be future role players in the league, they will deal with rookie growing pains as all three will likely receive big-time minutes.
While general manager Daryl Morey is correct to realize that a middling team does not accomplish much in this league, he might have gone too far in his rebuilding project.
Best-Case Record: 27-55
The Los Angeles Clippers are a legitimate threat to Oklahoma City's supremacy, especially after getting to the Conference Semifinals even without Chauncey Billups and Caron Butler.
With Jamal Crawford, Lamar Odom and Grant Hill on board, the Clips are much deeper and better equipped for a postseason run.
Blake Griffin and Chris Paul will both be All-Stars next season and are the driving force behind this roster. The question is whether they can keep up the elite ball for the entirety of the postseason.
In addition, DeAndre Jordan needs to be more than a shotblocker, actually putting together some offensive game, while improving his putrid free-throw shooting.
Don't get me wrong, the Clippers are a definite 50-win team, but they will struggle to eclipse the Thunder or even the Lakers.
Best-Case Record: 55-27
Mitch Kupchak put the Lakers in the conversation for best team in basketball after Steve Nash joined the "Lakeshow" in July.
He might have sealed the deal after D-12 landed in Tinsel Town.
Anytime you get a top-five player in the league, it is a huge win, no matter what you give up. However, the Lakers only dealt Andrew Bynum in this four-team blockbuster, finding a way to keep Pau Gasol on the roster.
With Gasol and Howard in their frontcourt, the Lakers pose matchup problems against virtually every single team in the league.
Throw in Kobe Bryant and the Lakers might as well be the favorite to win the title next season. The major question is whether bench players like Jodie Meeks, Antawn Jamison and Jordan Hill can step up.
Best-Case Record: 64-18
Of all the teams in the Western Conference, the Memphis Grizzlies might be the only one that can stack up against the Lakers frontline.
With Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol, Darrell Arthur and Mareese Speights, not only are the Grizzlies skilled at these positions, but they are also deep.
The question with this team, as it is always, is whether they can stay healthy for the whole the season, an issue that plagued the Grizzlies last season.
In 2011, it was Rudy Gay, whose presence would have definitely made a difference against the Thunder. Last year, it was super-sub Darrell Arthur.
In any case, the Grizzlies have the potential to be among the elite in the West. We'll see if they can avoid the injury bug in 2013.
Best-Case Record: 54-28
For the first time since Kevin Garnett was in his prime, the Minnesota Timberwolves are one of the favorites to take home a late playoff spot.
Head coach Rick Adelman did a great job with the team last season, as Kevin Love and Ricky Rubio both blossomed under his system.
After Rubio tore his ACL, everything understandably went downhill. If the Spanish point guard can remain healthy, I like the T-Wolves' chances of making the playoffs.
If Andrei Kirilenko plays like he did in the Olympics and if Brandon Roy proves to even be 60 percent of what he was a few years ago, Minnesota might end up being like the Memphis Grizzlies of the 2011 playoffs.
With all of this being said, there is the possibility that everything does go wrong for the Timberwolves, which would likely leave an already pouting Love, even more unhappy.
Best-Case Record: 46-36
Did the New Orleans Hornets get better for the future this season?
Yes, they did. The Hornets now have a young core of Austin Rivers, Anthony Davis, Ryan Anderson and Eric Gordon.
However, this team is at least a year away from playoff contention. Each of those four aforementioned players have holes in their game that definitely need to be fixed before New Orleans can compete with the elite in the West.
For example, Davis needs to refine his offensive game to ensure that he does not become essentially just a rim-protector. Rivers needs to learn how to become a point guard, while Anderson could benefit by being more aggressive.
As for Gordon, it's the same old story: he needs to stay healthy to be effective. If all of these pieces come together, look for the Hornets to contend in a few years.
Best-Case Record: 35-47
The 2013 offseason will prove to be a difficult time for the Oklahoma City Thunder, as they will try to sign James Harden to a non-maximum contract.
A possible scenario at first was to amnesty Kendrick Perkins for more cap space, but with Dwight Howard in L.A., it might be prudent for the Thunder to keep Perk because of his defensive capabilities.
As for this season, the Thunder enter as one of the favorites to come out of the Western Conference and win an NBA championship.
Quite frankly, a Russell Westbrook/Kevin Durant tandem matches up really well with the Lakers, considering that Steve Nash and Metta World Peace will have a hard time keeping up with these two.
If Westbrook is able to develop more as a point guard this season, the Thunder could hang up their first championship banner. If not, they face the possibility of losing earlier than expected in the playoffs.
Best-Case Record: 63-19
It is clear that Steve Nash meant a lot to the Phoenix Suns.
If not for a few bad breaks (like Joe Johnson breaking a bone in eye socket in 2005) and countless cheap decisions by Phoenix management (like the Suns letting Joe Johnson sign with the Hawks), the Suns might have won a few championships.
However, they didn't and began a quick rebuild after letting Nash join the Lakers. Goran Dragic has the ability to be a starting point guard and will benefit from having a top-10 center in Marcin Gortat.
Pieces like Michael Beasley and Luis Scola are also helpful, as both of whom have the potential to be above-average starters.
Even so, the Suns are a wing scorer away from being a legitimate playoff team. Luckily for them, James Harden will likely be available next season.
Best-Case Record: 40-42
Just a few years ago, the Portland Trailblazers were the next great young team. With LaMarcus Aldridge, Brandon Roy and Greg Oden all healthy, Portland was scary good.
Yet, Roy and Oden were never able to stay healthy and the Trail Blazers continued their unlucky ways as an NBA franchise.
The one positive out of these injuries was definitely the emergence of Aldridge as a bona fide superstar. He has the potential to be the best power forward in the game.
Drafting Damian Lillard might end up yielding the best player in the draft if his MVP-winning Summer League performance is an indicator.
With a new core of Lillard, Aldridge and Nicolas Batum, Portland might be on track to be that "next" young team, only a little later than expected.
Best-Case Record: 38-44
In NBA 2K12, Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins form the best young one-two punch in the league, with Evans averaging the 20-5-5 feat he accomplished in his rookie season and Cousins putting up 20-10 every night.
Sadly for Sacramento, video games do not equate to the real world, where Evans looks out-of-place, while Cousins battles with attitude issues.
There are just too many holes on his roster for the Kings to contend in the near future. In my opinion, they should actually rebuild around Cousins, who seems to be a future Hall of Famer if he gets his head together.
Evans needs a change of scenery and will be able to net a tidy sum to pair with a budding frontcourt of Thomas Robinson and Boogie.
If Sacramento wins 35 games, the season would be considered a major success.
Best-Case Record: 35-47
For the past two years, many of us have said that the Spurs are going to fade into obscurity and fall out of title contention.
Yet, with everyone back and Tony Parker still in his prime, San Antonio will likely be in the thick of things in the Western Conference once more.
With Cory Joseph playing well in the Summer League, the already deep Spurs rotation just got even deeper. Add an improved Kawhi Leonard into the mix and San Antonio might actually be better next season.
The question for this team is whether Manu Ginobili can stay healthy. If the Argentinian gets injured during the postseason, the Spurs are toast even in the first round.
San Antonio will likely turn in another great regular-season run but will fall short in the postseason, especially with the Thunder and a reinvigorated Lakers team.
Best-Case Record: 58-24
People don't realize this, but the Utah Jazz might be the team of the future.
With talented youngsters like Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Gordon Hayward and Alec Burks, Utah will likely peak after the Heat and Lakers' times have past.
Then consider that the Jazz have two trade chips like Al Jefferson and Paul Millsap, who can net even more young players to add to their rebuilding project.
Luckily for Utah, Kanter and Favors can step up if they trade Jefferson and Millsap as both have shown signs of growth in the past few seasons.
The West will be stronger this year and it might be difficult for this team to make the playoffs. In any case, a lottery season gives the Jazz more time to rebuild.
Best-Case Record: 45-37