Steve Mitchell-US PRESSWIRE
With all the attention centering around the adjustments those teams in New York and Los Angeles made, it's easy to forget that none of them actually played in the conference finals last season.
Maybe that's why they made so many of those adjustments.
Meanwhile, the clubs that were in the conference finals have taken two very different paths to returning. In the East, Boston and Miami have tweaked their rosters here and there while fundamentally relying on the same core. The changes are more drastic for the Celtics, who lost Ray Allen while adding Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Jeff Green and rookies Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo.
Boston's loss (which may not have been a loss at all in the final analysis) was, of course, Miami's gain; an important free-agent signing for a club that otherwise had a relatively quiet offseason. The bigger changes for the Heat may have to do with their game plan, especially with Chris Bosh spending more time at the 5 and LeBron James more minutes at the 4.
With an even bigger target on the reigning champion's back, it's important that the Heat continues to evolve and stay ahead of the pack.
It goes without saying, though, that head coach Erik Spoelstra is also reluctant to fix something that's clearly not broken. He'll no doubt attempt to strike that balance before the regular season is fully underway.
In the West, the Oklahoma City Thunder and San Antonio Spurs reminded the rest of the NBA why they're so different.
Neither made any significant moves, instead focusing their summers on retaining talent. For San Antonio, that meant hanging on to Tim Duncan and role players Boris Diaw, Danny Green and Patty Mills. For OKC, it meant working out an extension with Serge Ibaka and attempting to do the same with James Harden.
Will the East tweak its way to another victory, or will the West prove slow and steady wins the race? With clubs like the Lakers, Clippers, Bulls, Knicks and Nets all poised to join the fray, will these four teams even be back?
Preseason games won't answer that, but they will give us a much-anticipated hint of what's to come.