As with anything, the cream of the NBA will ultimately rise to the top once the playoffs begin in April. But along with the teams who we know will make deep postseason runs will be a few clubs who exceeded expectations in the 2012-13 season.
Thanks to a number of factors, the Eastern Conference is a bit more wide open than it has been in years. Several franchises who haven't spent much time in the playoffs in recent memory now have a viable shot at extending their seasons a few more weeks while some perennial contenders could miss out on the festivities entirely.
As exciting as the postseason race was at the end of last year's compressed schedule, the battle of playoff positioning in the Eastern Conference will be marked by a few sleeper teams who will be looking to upset the proverbial apple cart.
(Note: Stats are accurate as of Nov. 17)