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Projected Starting Lineups for Every NBA Team Headed into the 2012-2013 Season

Dan LewisContributor IIIJanuary 6, 2017

Projected Starting Lineups for Every NBA Team Headed into the 2012-2013 Season

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    With NBA training camps starting in less than a month, Bleacher Report takes a look at each team’s projected starting lineup heading into this season.

    Keep in mind, the starting lineups presented are what we figure them to be going into Game 1 of the season, not what they will look like at midseason or by the end of the season. Injuries were not taken into account.  

Atlanta Hawks

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    Starters:

    PG: Jeff Teague, 6'2"

    SG: Anthony Morrow, 6'5"

    SF: Josh Smith, 6'9"

    PF: Al Horford, 6'10"

    C: Zaza Pachulia, 6'11"

     

    Reserves:

    PG/SG: Louis Williams, 6'1"

    SG: John Jenkins, 6'4"

    PG: Devin Harris, 6'3"

    SG/SF: Kyle Korver, 6'7"

    SG: DeShawn Stevenson, 6'5"

    SF/PF: Mike Scott, 6'8"

     

    Best Player: Josh Smith

    Most Important Player: Al Horford

     

    Despite playing out of position for most of his professional career, Al Horford has managed to put up All-Star-caliber numbers and now has a chance to become one of the NBA’s premier power forwards in the NBA. 

    With the departure of leading scorer Joe Johnson, the Hawks will rely on Horford to fill the offensive void. This is the year that Horford can establish himself as the cornerstone of this franchise for the next five years, as he is just now entering his prime at 26 years old. 

    It is hoped and expected that by season's end, first-round pick John Jenkins out of Vanderbilt will surpass free-agent pickup Anthony Morrow and overtake him as the starting 2-guard. 

Boston Celtics

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    Starters:

    PG: Rajon Rondo, 6'1"

    SG: Avery Bradley, 6'2"

    SF: Paul Pierce, 6'7"

    PF: Brandon Bass, 6'9"

    C: Kevin Garnett, 6'11"

     

    Reserves:

    PG/SG: Jason Terry, 6'2"

    SF: Jeff Green, 6'9"

    SG: Courtney Lee, 6'5"

    PF: Jared Sullinger, 6'9"

    PF/C: Chris Wilcox, 6'10"

    C: Fab Melo, 7'0"

     

    Best Player: Rajon Rondo

    Most Important Player: Kevin Garnett

     

    With the departure of Ray Allen, a lot is going to be expected out of third-year guard Avery Bradley and newly acquired Jason Terry and Courtney Lee. But despite the loss of Allen, it is future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett who is the Celtics' most important player heading into the 2012-2013 season. 

    Celtics management seems to think the championship window is still open with the core of Rondo-Pierce-Garnett and has decided to add youth around them rather than undertake a roster overhaul. 

    The Celtics played much better late in the season and playoffs when they slid Garnett to the 5 and began starting Brandon Bass at the 4.  His energy and hustle provided a youthful spark that the aging Celtics truly needed. 

    Now they will attempt this strategy for an entire season and see if the results can be duplicated. If the now-36-year-old legend can hold up for an entire season, expect the Celtics to challenge the Miami Heat for the Eastern Conference crown.

Brooklyn Nets

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    Starters:

    PG: Deron Williams, 6'3"

    SG: Joe Johnson, 6'6"

    SF: Gerald Wallace, 6'7"

    PF: Kris Humphries, 6'9"

    C: Brook Lopez, 7'1"

     

    Reserves:

    SG: MarShon Brooks, 6'5"

    SF/PF: Mirza Teletovic, 6'9"

    PF/C: Reggie Evans, 6'8"

    PG: C.J. Watson, 6'2"

    SG: Keith Bogans, 6'5"

     

    Best Player: Deron Williams

    Most Important Player: Brook Lopez

     

    When you first look at the Nets roster, you immediately notice two things: First, their starting lineup is one of the best on paper. Second, their bench is one of the worst on paper.  

    The Nets retained their guy by re-signing Deron Williams to a max deal, but they also had to fork up another max deal to their promising center Brook Lopez. While Lopez has looked elite at times, he has struggled with consistency, rebounding (despite standing at seven feet) and injuries. 

    If the Nets want to challenge the likes of Miami and Boston in the East, Lopez is going to have to show that he is more than just potential.  

    As mentioned earlier, the Nets bench is very weak, and head coach Avery Johnson is going to have to heavily rely on his starters in order to contend. 

Charlotte Bobcats

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    Starters:

    PG: Kemba Walker, 6'1"

    SG: Gerald Henderson, 6'6"

    SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, 6'7"

    PF: Bismack Biyombo, 6'9"

    C: Byron Mullens, 7'0"

     

    Reserves:

    PG/SG: Ben Gordon, 6'3"

    PG: Ramon Sessions, 6'3"

    PF: Tyrus Thomas, 6'10"

    C: Brendan Haywood, 7'0"

    SG/SF: Jeffery Taylor, 6'7"

     

    Best Player: TBD

    Most Important Player: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

     

    The one thing this Charlotte Bobcats team has going for it the zero amount of pressure to win. Moderate improvement would be welcomed with open arms by Michael Jordan and the Bobcats front office. 

    The Bobcats took a step in the right direction by drafting Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, but it will take a lot more than that to get this team to the postseason.  It will be up to MKG to inspire this young team not only on the court, but in the locker room as well—a tall task for any rookie.  

    New coach Mike Dunlap could elect to go small and start Ben Gordon over Gerald Henderson.

Chicago Bulls

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    Starters:

    PG: Derrick Rose, 6'3"

    SG: Marco Belinelli, 6'5"

    SF: Luol Deng, 6'8"

    PF: Carlos Boozer, 6'10"

    C: Joakim Noah, 7'0"

     

    Reserves:

    PF: Taj Gibson, 6'9"

    PG: Kirk Hinrich, 6'4"

    PG: Marquis Teague, 6'2"

    PF: Vladimir Radmanovic, 6'10"

    SG: Richard Hamilton, 6'5"

    C: Nazr Mohammed, 6'11"

     

    Best Player: Derrick Rose

    Most Important Player: Derrick Rose

     

    The Bulls were a little AWOL this offseason. While all of the other serious NBA contenders made moves to get better, Chicago remained quiet and instead re-tooled their bench. Their front office is basically saying that they think their core is good enough to match up with Miami and Boston. 

    That could be, but the entirety of their season is dependent upon D-Rose returning to full strength by postseason play. In the meantime, it will be up to veteran Kirk Hinrich and rookie Marquis Teague to keep the Bulls afloat in the top-heavy Eastern Conference.

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Starters:

    PG: Kyrie Irving, 6'3"

    SG: Dion Waiters, 6'4"

    SF: Alonzo Gee, 6'7"

    PF: Tristan Thompson, 6'9"

    C: Anderson Varejao, 6'11"

     

    Reserves:

    SF: Omri Casspi, 6'8"

    PF/C: Tyler Zeller, 7'0"

    PG/SG: Daniel Gibson, 6'2"

    PF/C: Samardo Samuels, 6'10"

    SF: Luke Walton, 6'7"

     

    Best Player: Kyrie Irving

    Most Important Player: Tristan Thompson

     

    It appears that No. 4 overall pick Dion Waiters will start along side Rookie of the Year Kyrie Irving to start this season. 

    Waiters struggled with his shot selection and conditioning during the summer league, but head coach Byron Scott is hopeful that Waiters will adjust to the daily grind of the NBA by the end of the season. 

    Despite the high expectations of Waiters, it is second-year forward Tristan Thompson who is the key to the Cavaliers' continued improvement. At the end of last season, it was clear why Kyrie Irving was the No. 1 overall pick, but not quite as clear as to why Thompson was taken No. 4 overall. 

    Despite showing improvement toward the end of the season, Thompson is going to need to show the Cavaliers front office why he can be the low-post threat that Irving will be able to rely on to get this team back to the postseason.

Dallas Mavericks

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    Starters:

    PG: Darren Collison, 6'1"

    SG: O.J. Mayo, 6'5"

    SF: Vince Carter, 6'6"

    PF: Dirk Nowitzki, 7'0"

    C: Chris Kaman, 7'0"

     

    Reserves:

    SF/PF: Shawn Marion, 6'8"

    PF: Elton Brand, 6'10"

    PG/SG: Delonte West, 6'3"

    PG/SG: Rodrigue Beaubois, 6'2"

    PF: Brandon Wright, 6'10"

    SF/PF: Jae Crowder, 6'7"

     

    Best Player: Dirk Nowtizki

    Most Important Player: O.J. Mayo

    The Dallas Mavericks appeared to be one of the biggest losers of NBA free agency after losing out on the Deron Williams sweepstakes. But Mark Cuban and the Dallas front office made some great moves to redeem themselves after the first couple of waves of free agency ended. 

    They brought in veterans Chris Kaman and Elton Brand, new point guard Darren Collison and, most importantly, shooting guard O.J. Mayo. It’s no secret that Dirk is getting older and only has a couple more All-Star-caliber years left in the tank. 

    Mayo was brought in for one thing, and one thing only: to take some of the offensive load off of Dirk. Mayo felt he was underutilized during his tenure in Memphis, and now he has the chance to prove that he is more than capable of being Dirk’s scoring sidekick. 

    Coach Rick Carlisle might want to go defense over offense, in which case Shawn Marion would most likely be the starting small forward, with Vince Carter coming off the bench as a sixth man.

Denver Nuggets

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    Starters:

    PG: Ty Lawson, 5'11"

    SG: Andre Iguodala, 6'6"

    SF: Danilo Gallinari, 6'9"

    PF: Kenneth Faried, 6'8"

    C: JaVale McGee, 7'0"

     

    Reserves:

    PG: Andre Miller, 6'3"

    C: Timofey Mozgov, 7'1"

    SF: Wilson Chandler, 6'8"

    SF: Corey Brewer, 6'8"

    SG: Evan Fournier, 6'6"

     

    Best Player: Andre Iguodala

    Most Important Player: JaVale McGee

     

    One of the Nuggets' greatest strengths last season was their depth, but it was also one of their weaknesses.  Despite having talent at nearly every position, it was often clear that this team was too deep for its own good, with players often wondering their role with the team. With the departures of Al Harrington, Arron Afflalo and Chris Anderson, the team hopes this is no longer an issue.

    They are hoping that Andre Iguodala can be the go-to-scorer they have been lacking since Carmelo Anthony’s departure; something he never became in Philadelphia. But the key to the Nuggets' continued improvement is the development (or lack thereof) of JaVale McGee. 

    McGee was often the butt of jokes during his tenure with the Wizards, but he seemed to take things more seriously after his trade to the Nugs. 

    The word out of McGee’s camp is that he has been taking lessons from the great Hakeem Olajuwon, something that coach George Karl must be thrilled about. If McGee can finally live up to his immense potential, the Nuggets could become a dark-horse contender that no team would want to face come playoff time.

Detroit Pistons

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    Starters:

    PG: Brandon Knight, 6'3"

    SG: Rodney Stuckey, 6'4"

    SF: Corey Maggette, 6'7"

    PF: Tayshaun Prince, 6'9"

    C: Greg Monroe, 6'11"

     

    Reserves:

    PF/C: Andre Drummond, 6'10"

    SF/PF: Austin Daye, 6'10"

    SF/PF: Jonas Jerebko, 6'9"

    PF/C: Slava Kravtsov, 6'11"

    PF: Charlie Villanueva, 6'10"

    SF: Kyle Singler, 6'8"

     

    Best Player: Greg Monroe

    Most Important Player: Brandon Knight

     

    The Pistons are getting better, just slowly. The signing of free agents Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva back in 2009 really delayed the rebuilding process after dominating the Eastern Conference for several years. 

    While many have questioned GM Joe Dumars' past moves (drafting Darko Milicic, signing Ben Gordon and Villanueva, failing to trade Prince), he has made some smart moves in the draft by selecting Monroe, Knight and Drummond. Drummond might develop into the steal of the draft if he becomes as good as some project. 

    He won’t start right out of the gate, but it can be anticipated that he will eventually take over the center spot, moving Greg Monroe and Tayshaun Prince back to their natural positions. A young and talented frontcourt of Monroe-Drummond is a scary thought; something that Pistons fans have to be looking forward to.

    Brandon Knight showed flashes of brilliance last year, but going into his sophomore year, it is expected he will show major improvement and become one of the cornerstones for this up-and-coming franchise, returning the Pistons back to their bad-boy form.

Golden State Warriors

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    Starters:

    PG: Stephen Curry, 6'3"

    SG: Klay Thompson, 6'6"

    SF: Harrison Barnes, 6'8"

    PF: David Lee, 6'9"

    C: Andrew Bogut, 7'0"

     

    Reserves:

    SF: Richard Jefferson, 6'7"

    PF: Carl Landry, 6'9"

    SG: Brandon Rush, 6'6"

    PF/C: Jeremy Tyler, 6'10"

    SF/PF: Draymond Green, 6'7"

     

    Best Player: Steph Curry

    Most Important Player: Andrew Bogut

     

    The Warriors are one of the more intriguing teams in the NBA this coming season. They have loads of talent, but it will be up to second-year coach Mark Jackson to harness all that talent into good basketball. 

    After years of running an up-tempo style offense that was entertaining but not productive, the Warriors finally appear to be transitioning to a more fundamental offense with the addition of a true center in Andrew Bogut. 

    The Warriors bench is below average, so Jackson will rely mostly on his starters to produce. The front office is banking that both Steph Curry and Bogut can come back strong after major injuries last season. 

    Curry, at times, has shown he can be an elite point guard at this level—the problem for him has been staying on the court. He is in a contract year, so it’s make-or-break time for him. The Warriors would love to re-sign him, but he’s going to have to prove that he can play an entire season and become the franchise point guard they hoped he would be when they drafted him in 2009. 

    If Curry and Bogut can remain healthy for the majority of the season, expect this team to make it back to the postseason in the as a No. 5 to No. 8 seed. 

Houston Rockets

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    Starters:

    PG: Jeremy Lin, 6'3"

    SG: Kevin Martin, 6'6"

    SF: Chandler Parsons, 6'8"

    PF: Terrence Jones, 6'9"

    C: Omer Asik, 7'0"

     

    Reserves:

    SF/PF: Royce White, 6'8"

    SG/SF: Jeremy Lamb, 6'6"

    SF/PF: Donatas Motiejunas, 6'11"

    SG/SF: Carlos Delfino, 6'7"

    PG: Shaun Livingston, 6'7"

    PF: Marcus Morris, 6'9"

     

    Best Player: Kevin Martin

    Most Important Player: all of the rookies

     

    The Houston Rockets certainly aren’t the team they thought they were going to be to start the season. After acquiring more draft picks than they knew what to do with in order to try and acquire Dwight Howard, the Rockets find themselves in an unusual predicament after failing to get D12 to Houston. 

    They have four talented rookies and two second-year players who figure to be in competition for regular minutes on a nightly basis—and all of them are forwards! (You could argue Lamb is strictly a 2-guard.)

    The coaching staff is praying that a couple of these guys pull away from the pack so that their lives are easier; but if all these guys produce, it’s going to be very difficult to find a rotation where they can all contribute. Don’t get me wrong, though, production doesn’t equate to wins. Expect this team to be at the bottom of the Western Conference basement.

    Terrance Jones is slotted at the 4 because of an impressive summer league, a high motor and the fact that he is more of a traditional 4 than White or Motiejunas. Expect one of the other rookies to overtake Chandler Parsons as the starting 3 by the end of the year.

Indiana Pacers

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    Starters:

    PG: George Hill, 6'3"

    SG: Paul George, 6'8"

    SF: Danny Granger, 6'8"

    PF: David West, 6'9"

    C: Roy Hibbert, 7'2"

     

    Reserves:

    PG: D.J. Augustin, 6'0"

    PF: Tyler Hansbrough, 6'9"

    SG: Gerald Green, 6'7"

    PF/C: Miles Plumlee, 6'11"

    C: Ian Mahinmi, 6'11"

     

    Best Player: Danny Granger

    Most Important Player: Roy Hibbert

     

    Out of all teams last year, none took a bigger step in the right direction than the Indiana Pacers. They finished with the third-best record in the East, advancing to the second round and giving the eventual NBA champs a run for their money.

    Despite overpaying for Roy Hibbert, it was a move that had to be made if the front office wanted to continue to develop their corps and turn the Pacers into legitimate contenders. 

    With the departure of Darren Collison, both George Hill and D.J. Augustine will compete for starting point guard duties. But because of size and experience, I expect Hill to start the season for the Pacers. 

    Lack of true centers in today’s NBA helped Hibbert get a max deal, but now the pressure is on to show that he is worth it. Every facet of his game has improved since his rookie year, and now he needs to step up and become the Pacers' best player if they want to legitimately challenge the Miami Heat for the next two-to-four years. 

Los Angeles Clippers

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    Starters:

    PG: Chris Paul, 6'1"

    SG: Chauncey Billups, 6'3"

    SF: Caron Butler, 6'7"

    PF: Blake Griffin, 6'10"

    C: DeAndre Jordan, 6'11"

     

    Reserves:

    SG: Jamal Crawford, 6'5"

    SG/SF: Grant Hill, 6'7"

    SF/PF: Lamar Odom, 6'9"

    PF/C: Ronny Turiaf, 6'10"

    PG/SG: Eric Bledsoe, 6'1"

     

    Best Player: Chris Paul

    Most Important Player: Chauncey Billups

     

    Clipper nation has a lot to be excited about this season. They made some great veteran pickups which, in turn, has really bolstered their bench. Last season they took a big step by advancing to the second round of the playoffs. 

    But Chris Paul will be a free agent following this season, and if L.A.’s other team hopes to keep him around, they will need to make a strong playoff push.

    The return of Chauncey Billups will be huge. He has a strong relationship with Paul, and in the few games we saw him play with the Clippers early last year, it was apparent that he had a strong influence over the younger players. His veteran leadership and experience will be huge if the Clippers want to keep pace with the Lakers and Thunder. 

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Starters:

    PG: Steve Nash, 6'3"

    SG: Kobe Bryant, 6'6"

    SF: Metta World Peace, 6'7"

    PF: Pau Gasol, 7'0"

    C: Dwight Howard, 7'0"

     

    Reserves:

    SF/PF: Antawn Jamison, 6'9"

    SG: Jodie Meeks, 6'5"

    PG: Steve Blake, 6'3"

    PF: Jordan Hill, 6'9"

    PG: Chris Duhon, 6'2"

     

    Best Player: Kobe Bryant

    Most Important Player: Dwight Howard

     

    After a year of speculation as to when and where Dwight would end up, Mitch Kupchack and the Lakers finally figured out a way to land another truly dominant center (Wilt Chamberlain, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Shaquille O’Neal) while not giving up that much.

    It’s put-up-or-shut-up time for Dwight Howard. Questions linger about his back, so it will be interesting to see how he bounces back from the first major injury of his career. 

    Everyone knows that Nash will be just fine distributing to his new teammates, but it’s Howard who will have to adjust to playing sidekick along Kobe. If he can just focus on what he’s good at (rebounding, defense, etc.), the Lakers should cruise to a Western Conference showdown with OKC.

    The Lakers might be the most improved team in the NBA after the offseason. In fact, how could they not be? They added two future Hall of Famers to pair with the two that they already had. In addition, after having one of the worst benches offensively in the NBA, they signed two offensive specialists in Antawn Jamison and Jodie Meeks. 

    Anything short of an NBA Finals appearance would be a failure. 

Memphis Grizzlies

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    Starters:

    PG: Mike Conley Jr., 6'2"

    SG: Tony Allen, 6'4"

    SF: Rudy Gay, 6'8"

    PF: Zach Randolph, 6'9"

    C: Marc Gasol, 7'0"

     

    Reserves:

    PG/SG: Jarryd Bayless, 6'3"

    PF/C: Marreese Speights, 6'10"

    PF: Darrell Arthur, 6'9"

    SG/SF: Quincy Pondexter, 6'6"

    PG/SG: Tony Wroten, 6'5"


    Best Player: Rudy Gay

    Most Important Player: Zach Randolph

     

    The Memphis Grizzlies appeared to take a step back last season after pushing the Thunder to the limit in the conference semis in 2011. They appeared lackadaisical in their series vs. the Clippers and ultimately lost in seven.

    Their team remains mostly intact, but they lost O.J. Mayo, who provided them with a good boost of the bench. The staff hopes that newly acquired Jarryd Bayless and rookie Tony Wroten can emulate Mayo’s effectiveness as a scorer. 

    Ultimately, though, they need Zach Randolph to play the way he is capable of playing. Randolph has demonstrated that he can be one of the league’s best power forwards (he was practically unstoppable during the 2011 playoffs), but often leaves coaches and scouts puzzled with poor decision making, lack of aggressiveness and just poor play in general. 

    Last season he fought through injuries and never really seemed to get into playing shape. If the Grizzlies want to prove they are legit, they will need Randolph to play the whole season like he did during the postseason two years ago.

Miami Heat

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    Starters:

    PG: Mario Chalmers, 6'3"

    SG: Dwyane Wade, 6'5"

    SF: LeBron James, 6'9"

    PF: Chris Bosh, 6'10"

    C: Udonis Haslem, 6'9"

     

    Reserves:

    SG: Ray Allen, 6'5"

    SF: Shane Battier, 6'7"

    SF/PF: Rashard Lewis, 6'10"

    SF: Mike Miller, 6'7"

    C: Joel Anthony, 6'10"

    PG: Norris Cole, 6'3"

     

    Best Player: LeBron James

    Most Important Player: LeBron James

     

    The Miami Heat had a relatively quiet, yet excellent offseason. After winning it all, Pat Riley knew that the only area the Heat really needed help with in order to repeat were players who could stretch the floor and provide a boost off the bench.

    Riley and coach Erik Spoelstra have done an excellent job of adding veterans who are OK with reducing roles for the opportunity for a title. They added Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis, two guys who are most known for their three-point accuracy. Add them with Shane Battier and Mike Miller, and that gives them a pretty experienced and reliable bench.

    But as most people know, and with no disrespect to D-Wade, this team will go only as far as LeBron James will take them. After having the best season of his career and capping it off with a superb Olympics, James appears to have made it over the hump. 

    Now the question is, will he continue to add to his legacy or become satisfied with just one ring?

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Starters:

    PG: Brandon Jennings, 6'2"

    SG: Monta Ellis, 6'3"

    SF: Ersan Ilyasova, 6'10"

    PF: Drew Gooden, 6'10"

    C: Samuel Dalembert, 7'0"

     

    Reserves:

    SG/SF: Mike Dunleavy, 6'8"

    SF/PF: John Henson, 6'11"

    SG: Doron Lamb, 6'5"

    SF/PF: Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, 6'9"

    SF: Tobias Harris, 6'8"

     

    Best Player: Monta Ellis

    Most Important Player: Brandon Jennings

     

    The Milwaukee Bucks are another one of those intriguing and talented teams, though young in age. 

    They are experimenting by starting two small, shoot-first point guards in their backcourt, with a big, solid frontcourt. It remains to be seen how this experiment will end, but one can only predict that it won’t equate to a high win total.

    Brandon Jennings is in a contract year, and after a tough sophomore season, bounced back for a pretty solid third season last year. It will be up to him and Ellis to coexist with each other if this team has any hopes of making a postseason appearance.    

Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Starters:

    PG: Ricky Rubio, 6'4"

    SG: Alexey Shved, 6'6"

    SF: Andrei Kirilenko, 6'9"

    PF: Kevin Love, 6'10"

    C: Nikola Pekovic, 6'11"

     

    Reserves:

    PG/SG: Jose Juan Barea, 6'0"

    SF/PF: Derrick Williams, 6'9"

    SG: Brandon Roy, 6'5"

    PF/C: Greg Stiemsma, 6'11"

    SG/SF: Chase Budinger, 6'7"

     

    Best Player: Kevin Love

    Most Important Player: Ricky Rubio

     

    Timberwolves fans have to be excited for this upcoming season. Before Ricky Rubio tore his ACL during the middle of the season, the T-Wolves seemed primed for the playoffs. Unfortunately, once the injury occurred, they faded back into mediocrity. 

    Kevin Love has proved that he is arguably the best power forward in the game today, and if Rubio shows that he has fully recovered, this will one of the hardest duos to stop for the next decade. 

    They added two Russians to round out their starting lineup, giving this team a very international feel. Andrei Kirilenko and Alexey Shved will give the T-Wolves a boost on both sides of the ball. 

    Shved was a key contributor for the Russian team this past Olympics and should be penciled in as the starting shooting guard. Expect Kevin Love to experience his first taste of the NBA postseason.

New Orleans Hornets

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    Starters:

    PG: Greivis Vasquez, 6'6"

    SG: Eric Gordon, 6'4"

    SF: Al-Farouq Aminu, 6'8"

    PF: Ryan Anderson, 6'10"

    C: Anthony Davis, 6'11"

     

    Reserves:

    C: Robin Lopez, 7'0"

    PG/SG: Austin Rivers, 6'4"

    PF: Hakim Warrick, 6'9"

    SG/SF: Darius Miller, 6'7"

    PF: Jason Smith, 6'10"

     

    Best Player: Eric Gordon

    Most Important Player: Anthony Davis

     

    The New Orleans Hornets had a great offseason. First they re-signed their best player Eric Gordon, who really has yet to reach his full potential due to injury, then they signed free agent Ryan Anderson, fresh off an NBA Most Improved Player award. 

    In addition, a little bit of luck fell their way when they were fortunate enough to receive the No. 1 pick and take future perennial All-Star Anthony Davis, while also selecting guard Austin Rivers with the 10th pick. 

    This might be a stretch, but I expect the Hornets to legitimately contend for a seventh or eighth seed in the playoffs if Eric Gordon can stay healthy. He is a dynamic scorerer and excellent defender and has all the tools to be an All-Star. 

    Anthony Davis will have his ups and downs, but ultimately he will put together a great rookie campaign and most likely take home Rookie of the Year honors. 

    Expect Greivis Vasquez to start the season off at point guard, but if coach Monty Williams can successfully convert Rivers to an NBA point guard, he will be starting alongside Gordon by season’s end.

New York Knicks

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    Starters:

    PG: Raymond Felton, 6'2"

    SG: Iman Shumpert, 6'6"

    SF: Carmelo Anthony, 6'8"

    PF: Amar'e Stoudemire, 6'10"

    C: Tyson Chandler, 7'1"

     

    Reserves:

    SG: J.R. Smith, 6'6"

    PG: Jason Kidd, 6'4"

    SF/PF: Steve Novak, 6'9"

    C: Marcus Camby, 6'11"

    SF: Ronnie Brewer, 6'7"

     

    Best Player: Carmelo Anthony

    Most Important Player: Amar'e Stoudemire

     

    As many anticipate, Carmelo will be under a lot of pressure this season to return the Knicks to postseason glory after LeBron was able to lead the Heat to a title.

    Not that anyone is expecting this team to make a serious push, but it is not unreasonable to expect an Eastern Conference Finals entrance based on the talent of their roster. 

    They made some decent moves this offseason, bringing back Raymond Felton to run the offense with veteran Jason Kidd serving as a mentor. Re-signing Steve Novak was an underrated move, and the return of defensive specialist Iman Shumpert will help. 

    But while everyone knows 'Melo’s problem with over-shooting and ball-stopping, it is Amar'e Stoudemire who is the Knicks' most important player. Questions remain if he can co-exist with 'Melo and if his numbers in Phoenix were more showing of Steve Nash's abilities than his own.

    Like JaVale McGee from Denver, Amar'e has been working with HOFer Hakeem the Dream, hoping to add to his perimeter-oriented style of big-man play. If he does develop a better back-to-the-basket type game, it could prove wonders for the Knicks and help turn them into a legit threat.

    But that’s kind of the MO of this team: a lot of ifs. 

Oklahoma City Thunder

22 of 31

    Starters:

    PG: Russell Westbrook, 6'3"

    SG: Thabo Sefolosha, 6'6"

    SF: Kevin Durant, 6'10"

    PF: Serge Ibaka, 6'10"

    C: Kendrick Perkins, 6'10"

     

    Reserves:

    SG: James Harden, 6'5"

    PF/C: Nick Collison, 6'10"

    PG: Eric Maynor, 6'3"

    SF/PF: Perry Jones III, 6'10"

    SG: Daequan Cook, 6'5"

     

     

    Best Player: Kevin Durant

    Most Important Player: James Harden

     

    Despite getting throttled by the Heat in the NBA Finals, OKC GM Sam Presti decided to stay put with his team rather than go out and try to make major acquisitions or free-agent signings.

    Why would he? He has three studs who are only going to be better after playing in London during the Olympics, and if not for James Harden’s unexplained disappearance from the finals, we might be having a whole different discussion about LBJ’s legacy. 

    The few moves Presti did make were subtle yet impressive. He drafted forward Perry Jones III out of Baylor with the 22nd pick, even though Jones was expected to go in the top 10 for much of the year. His body type and guard-like skill set are very similar to Durant’s, but he is nowhere close to being the same kind of shooter.

    Presti also decided to take a low-risk gamble on center Hasheem Thabeet. While he never should have been the No. 2 pick, Thabeet does have the combination of youth and rare size (7'2") that could allow him to become a solid NBA center given good coaching and the right opportunity. 

Orlando Magic

23 of 31

    Starters:

    PG: Jameer Nelson, 6'0"

    SG: Arron Afflalo, 6'6"

    SF: Hedo Turkoglu, 6'9"

    PF: Al Harrington, 6'9"

    C: Glen Davis, 6'9"

     

    Reserves:

    SG: J.J. Redick, 6'4"

    SF: Moe Harkless, 6'8"

    PF: Andrew Nicholson, 6'9"

    SG/SF: Quentin Richards, 6'10"

     

    Best Player: TBD

    Most Important Player: Arron Afflalo

     

    Honestly, where do you begin with this team? They are pretty much the definition of a rebuilding team. Despite probably being able to get more from the Brooklyn Nets, they finally managed to trade disgruntled superstar Dwight Howard to La-La land, and in turn have a handful of draft picks, Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington and rookie Moe Harkless. 

    While this deal doesn’t seem great from a Magic perspective currently, there is still a chance that Harkless develops into an All-Star over time, the draft picks turn into good players and, most importantly, Afflalo becomes the team’s best player. 

    The new GM has indicated that he plans to build around Afflalo for now. Afflalo has been a good player up to now, but can he really be a team’s best player? The jury is still out on that, but Magic fans are in for a rough season with a bunch of overpaid veterans and raw rookies.

Philadelphia 76ers

24 of 31

    Starters:

    PG: Jrue Holiday, 6'4"

    SG: Evan Turner, 6'7"

    SF: Jason Richardson, 6'6"

    PF: Thaddeus Young, 6'9"

    C: Andrew Bynum, 7'0"

     

    Reserves:

    C: Spencer Hawes, 7'0"

    SG: Nick Young, 6'6"

    SF: Dorell Wright, 6'7"

    SF/PF: Arnett Moultrie, 6'10"

     

    Best Player: Andrew Bynum

    Most Important Player: Andrew Bynum

     

    The Philadelphia 76ers are good team. In fact, they are a really good team. Since Doug Collins took over as head coach, the Sixers have progressed. The one problem with the way GM Rod Thorn built the roster was that they never had a true go-to player. They hoped and tried to get Andre Iguodala to take that role, but it never materialized.

    So what did Thorn do? He went out and traded for arguably the best true center in the NBA. Andrew Bynum was disgruntled in L.A. because of lack of touches, and now he will have his chance in Philly.

     He is head and shoulders better than anyone else on the roster, and the team will from here on out be built around him. In a contract year, Bynum will have plenty of touches to demonstrate just how good he can be. 

    Barring injury, he will undoubtedly be an All-Star. They are one trade away from being a top-three team in the East. Just how good they can be depends on how Bynum develops, both on and off the court.   

Phoenix Suns

25 of 31

    Starters:

    PG: Goran Dragic, 6'3"

    SG: Jared Dudley, 6'6"

    SF: Michael Beasley, 6'9"

    PF: Luis Scola, 6'10"

    C: Marcin Gortat, 7'0"

     

    Reserves:

    SG: Shannon Brown, 6'5"

    PG: Kendall Marshall, 6'4"

    PF/C: Channing Frye, 6'11"

    PF: Markieff Morris, 6'10"

    PF/C: Jermaine O’Neal, 6'11"

     

    Best Player: Marcin Gortat

    Most Important Player: Goran Dragic

     

    The Suns are in a bit of a transitional period. The days of Steve Nash running the fast-paced offense are over. To replace him, the Suns brought back free agent Goran Dragic (who is coming off quite a year) and drafted Kendall Marshall out of UNC. 

    I don’t know what the point was in bringing in two point guards, but hopefully one or both gives them a sliver of what Nash did. They made some other solid moves, but fans must wonder what direction this team is headed and what kind of team they want to be. 

    It remains to be seen if Gortat is as good as he played last year, or if that was just a product of how good Nash was. Michael Beasley is still young and has the ability to become a very good NBA player. Bottom line: A lot of questions surround this team, most of which should be answered by season’s end.

Portland Trail Blazers

26 of 31

    Starters:

    PG: Damian Lillard, 6'3"

    SG: Wesley Matthews, 6'6"

    SF: Nicolas Batum, 6'8"

    PF: LaMarcus Aldridge, 6'11"

    C: J.J. Hickson, 6'10"

     

    Reserves:

    C: Meyers Leonard, 7'1"

    SF/PF: Jared Jeffries, 6'10"

    SG/SF: Will Barton, 6'6"

     

    Best Player: LaMarcus Aldridge

    Most Important Player: Meyers Leonard

     

    The Blazers are on to something. LaMarcus Aldridge is one of the league's top rising talents, and whispers from scouts around the league are saying that Damian Lillard might turn out to be the best player taken in the 2012 draft. 

    Overpaying for Nicolas Batum hurts, but Portland would have been in for a long season without him. Don’t get me wrong, he’s an excellent player, but I don’t know if he is worth close to his lucrative deal. 

    The key for the Blazers this season and next will be the development of their second lottery pick from 2012, Meyers Leonard. Leonard has ridiculous athleticism for his size and a lot of upside.

    He is still very raw, but if the Blazers staff works with him right, Leonard could provide an excellent complement in the frontcourt with Aldridge. Expect him to take over as the starting center by midseason.

Sacramento Kings

27 of 31

    Starters:

    PG: Aaron Brooks, 6'0"

    SG: Marcus Thornton, 6'5"

    SF: Tyreke Evans, 6'6"

    PF: Thomas Robinson, 6'10"

    C: DeMarcus Cousins, 6'11"

     

    Reserves:

    PG: Isaiah Thomas, 5'10"

    PG/SG: Jimmer Fredette, 6'3"

    PF: Jason Thompson, 6'10"

    SG: John Salmons, 6'5"

    SF: James Johnson, 6'8"

     

    Best Player: DeMarcus Cousins

    Most Important Player: Thomas Robinson

     

    The Kings have an intriguing roster full of young talent and untapped potential. Unfortunately, most recent headlines about the Kings are regarding their potential move from Sacramento. Until they figure out if they are staying or going, it is going to be hard for anyone to take them seriously.

    They drafted Thomas Robinson out of KU to pair with DeMarcus Cousins to form what could be an All-Star frontcourt. But after the summer league, questions returned regarding Robinson’s ineffectiveness going up against bigger, more physical forwards and centers (something that’s common place in the NBA).

    Other than Cousins, they haven’t exactly hit the jackpot in the draft over the last few years. They appear to have already given up on Jimmer, and Tyreke Evans is on the trading block after showing little improvement in three years. Hopefully Robinson doesn’t follow that trend.

    The Kings were once a great and proud franchise. Curing their losing woes would be a step in the right direction in keeping them in Sac-Town, but as of now, that appears unlikely. 

San Antonio Spurs

28 of 31

    Starters:

    PG: Tony Parker, 6'2"

    SG: Danny Green, 6'6"

    SF: Kawhi Leonard, 6'7"

    PF: Tim Duncan, 7'0"

    C: Tiago Splitter, 7'0"

     

    Reserves:

    SG: Manu Ginobili, 6'6"

    SF/PF/C: Boris Diaw, 6'9"

    SG: Gary Neal, 6'4"

    PF: Matt Bonner, 6'10"

    SG/SF: Stephen Jackson, 6'7"

     

    Best Player: Tony Parker

    Most Important Player: Manu Ginobili

     

    The Spurs showed last year that their championship window hasn’t closed yet. The core of Parker-Ginobili-Duncan put on a clinic last year on their way to a tie for best record in the NBA. Unfortunately, age caught up to them when they met OKC in the postseason, and youth prevailed. 

    The Big Three know this might be their last chance and have a good mix of young role players around them to be a major postseason player. A lot hinges on an aging Tim Duncan, who has still shown that he can play at an elite level when he needs to.

    Ultimately, though, the soul of this team is Manu Ginobili. Like Duncan, he has seen his production drop over the years. It’s not news to anybody that Ginobili has had nagging injuries throughout his entire career, and with age comes a prolonged recovery time. If the Spurs want to continue their steady run of postseason success, a healthy Manu is a must.

    With arguably the best coach in the game, the Spurs remain elite, and you can bet that the Lakers and Thunder certainly would like to avoid them in May if possible. 

Toronto Raptors

29 of 31

    Starters:

    PG: Kyle Lowry, 6'1"

    SG: Landry Fields, 6'7"

    SF: DeMar DeRozan, 6'7"

    PF: Andrea Bargnani, 7'0"

    C: Amir Johnson, 7'0"

     

    Reserves:

    PF/C: Jonas Valanciunas, 6'11"

    PG: Jose Calderon, 6'3"

    PF: Ed Davis, 6'10"

    SF: Linas Kleiza, 6'7"

    SF/PF: Quincy Acy, 6'8"

    SG/SF: Terrence Ross, 6'6"

     

    Best Player: Andrea Bargnani

    Most Important Player: Jonas Valanciunas

     

    The Raptors seem to be stuck in basketball purgatory. They are bad almost annually, yet don’t have much to show for it in terms of former draft picks. Despite being a very good player, Andrea Bargnani has been a disappointment considering he was a No. 1 overall pick. DeMar DeRozan is unspectacular, and Ed Davis has failed to reach his potential. 

    Taking Terrence Ross out of Washington at No. 8 was a stretch by most scouts' accounts, yet Ross has the elite athleticism and length to make you wonder how good he could be if he works on his weaknesses. 

    2011 draft pick Jonas Valanciunas, hailed by some as the next Dirk Nowitzki, will face high expectations this season. He is very young and won’t expect to take this team anywhere this season, but the addition of Kyle Lowry means this team can expect to be in the postseason within the next few years.

    If both Valanciunas and Ross pan out, the Raptors could be a team to be reckoned with—just not anytime soon. 

Utah Jazz

30 of 31

    Starters:

    PG: Mo Williams, 6'2"

    SG: Alec Burks, 6'6"

    SF: Gordon Hayward, 6'8"

    PF: Paul Millsap, 6'9"

    C: Al Jefferson, 6'10"

     

    Reserves:

    PF/C: Derrick Favors, 6'11"

    SF/PF: Marvin Williams, 6'9"

    PG/SG: Randy Foye, 6'4"

    SG: Raja Bell, 6'5"

    PF/C: Enes Kanter, 6'11"

     

    Best Player: Al Jefferson

    Most Important Player: Derrick Favors

     

    The Utah Jazz are in a bit of a predicament. They have an extremely talented team, but no apparent direction. Their frontcourt is absolutely loaded with talent and potential, yet you can’t help but feel that Al Jefferson’s prime is being wasted. This year, he will most likely start at center despite being more of a true power forward.

    They drafted Enes Kanter with a high lottery pick just a year ago, but he had trouble logging consistent minutes with all the other talent. The Jazz also traded for Derrick Favors, who was pegged as possibly the next Dwight Howard, but he too has struggled to get consistent playing time.

    Add newly acquired Marvin Williams to the mix, and it just makes things more confusing—although he probably will play most of his minutes at the 3. 

    The Jazz can’t keep one foot in the water and one foot out for too much longer. They either need to trade established veterans Paul Millsap and Jefferson to free up playing time for their young bigs, or trade the young and talented Kanter and Favors for proven contributors to build around Jefferson.

    Is the time now or the future? Someone needs to decide before this franchise can move forward.

Washington Wizards

31 of 31

    Starters:

    PG: John Wall, 6'3"

    SG: Bradley Beal, 6'4"

    SF: Trevor Ariza, 6'8"

    PF: Emeka Okafor, 6'10"

    C: Nene, 7'0"

     

    Reserves:

    SG: Jordan Crawford, 6'4"

    PF/C: Kevin Seraphin, 6'9"

    SF/PF: Jan Vesely, 6'10"

    SF/PF: Chris Singleton, 6'9"

    PF/C: Trevor Booker, 6'9"

    SG: Martell Webster, 6'6"

     

    Best Player: John Wall

    Most Important Player: John Wall

     

    The Washington Wizards had a pretty eventful offseason. Whether it was positive or negative depends on who you ask. 

    After trading away Nick Young and JaVale McGee toward the end of the season, they were able to finally get rid of the last of the immaturity that plagued this team for the last several seasons by amnestying Andray Blatche. In addition, they landed the No. 3 pick and landed SG Bradley Beal out of Florida, giving John Wall a potent backcourt mate. 

    Prior to that, Washington made a trade with the New Orleans Hornets and took on the large contracts of defensive specialists Trevor Ariza and Emeka Okafor. On paper, the move seems great. 

    Adding two defensive-minded veterans to help add stability to the locker room and a positive presence for John Wall seems like a great idea. The problem is both of these players are well overpaid, which will essentially make the Wizards non-factors during free agency over the next two years. 

    It is understood that the Wizards needed to surround Wall with talent to convince him to sign a long-term deal, but he showed little improvement from year one to year two. If the Wizards front office wants to show that this move was worth the financial lockdown, Wall is going to have to start playing at the All-Star level like he was expected to do, and lead this team to the playoffs.    

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