The 2013-14 NBA season is almost upon us.
Now that the NBA preseason has finally kicked off, it's time to take a good, hard look at where each team stands.
It's starting to feel like the 2013-14 season could be wide open. Sure, there are definitely a few favorites, but at least 20 teams have legitimate playoff aspirations, and at least half of those teams could realistically take the title.
Needless to say, there's a lot to talk about. But to save some time, I won't go on and on about each team and instead will assess them with nothing more than the 140 characters that take up a single tweet. Here we go.
Millsap came at a steep discount for the Hawks.
Not enough top talent to be a contender, but they'll be competitive. They stole Paul Millsap, and Dennis Schroeder is a star in the making.
Jeff Green is set to be the Celtics' top offensive option.
It's a tanking season even if Jeff Green and Rajon Rondo put together a few wins. This team can defend, but scoring is out of the question.
The Nets have become a serious contender in the East.
NBA's most intriguing team. One-year window. Can they mesh in time, and can Kevin Garnett lift the defense to a championship level?
Al Jefferson will finally give Charlotte an efficient, high-usage option.
Al Jefferson was a good pickup—now it's about internal improvement. MKG needs a jumper. Kemba Walker needs to build upon his last campaign.
In case you haven't heard...Derrick Rose is back.
Derrick Rose is back, Derrick Rose is back, Derrick Rose is back, Derrick Rose is back, Derrick Rose is back, Derrick Rose is back.
Andrew Bynum's health means everything to the Cavs.
Crazy ceiling if Andrew Bynum is healthy. But they'll have to figure out a pretty whacky bigs rotation, and Waiters is still a wild card.
Ellis and Nowitzki pick-and-rolls will be a whole lot of fun to watch.
Dallas will entertain, but anything beyond an eighth seed is unlikely. Long-term deals for its new guards leave little future flexibility.
The jury is still out on JaVale McGee defensively.
A new coach and front office means uncertainty in Denver. It'll still score in bunches, but none of its bigs are consistent defenders.
Andre Drummond has as much potential as anyone in the league.
They'll be much better, but they have some very real spacing issues. The whole season (and beyond) comes down to Drummond making a leap.
Andre Iguodala could be very good in Golden State.
Poised to be very dangerous if Curry and Bogut stay healthy. Iguodala is a great fit, but Barnes' growth is the real X-factor this season.
Harden and Howard could be unbelievable together.
Unclear how the Asik situation will shake out, but Howard and Harden are a dream couple. They'll compete for the league's top offense.
If Granger comes back healthy, the Pacers could be deadly.
The favorites to knock off Miami in the East. They've added shooting, and Danny Granger could give them a massive boost if all goes well.
This is the season the Clippers have to come through.
The roster's revamped, and they've got a great coach in Doc Rivers. No excuses. Anything short of the Western Finals will be a failure.
Can Kobe come back at 100 percent?
The defense will be a mess, so they'd better score. If Kobe comes back strong and Gasol keeps it up, they have an outside playoff shot.
Gasol and the Grizzlies will be dominant defensively, but can they score?
Miller was a great addition, and Koufos and Davis will contribute nicely. They'll play great defense, but can they score on elite teams?
Apparently this guy's pretty good or something.
Still the kings. There are real concerns about some players wearing down, but they've made smart additions and have LeBron James.
Larry Sanders is a defensive menace.
The Sanders-Henson duo could be fun, and they've upped their shooting. But anything better than average on either end would be a surprise.
Kevin Love's Timberwolves should finally find the playoffs.
This team can flat-out score, but defense is an issue. Budinger's injury hurts, but if everyone else is healthy, they'll make the playoffs.
What kind of season will Anthony Davis turn in?
Plenty of talent here, but it'll take time for New Orleans to gel. They're banking on Davis being a top-five player someday—not a bad bet.
Anthony and Chandler need to be incredible for the Knicks to make it through the East.
The Knicks should be even better offensively with Bargnani, but Chandler needs more help defensively. They'll be a tough out regardless.
Reggie Jackson has looked very impressive thus far.
They're still a top-five team and should stay afloat without Westbrook. But they need one of Jackson, Lamb or Adams to step up big time.
Is Victor Oladipo the Magic's future point guard?
The Magic won't win much, but they have young talent and have rebuilt nicely. Is Oladipo their future point, or will he play more at the 2?
Nerlens Noel won't be on the court for a while, but when healthy, he'll make an immediate defensive impact.
The 76ers aren't even trying to win. Noel and Carter-Williams are nice pieces, but Philly's future lies in the star-studded 2014 draft.
Unfortunately, there's a good chance the Suns look to move Goran Dragic.
Bledsoe and Dragic could be a nice backcourt, but Phoenix is looking to move its best assets. It'll be another rough season for Suns fans.
With a revamped bench, the postseason is within reach for Portland.
McCollum's injury stings, but Portland still has a much-improved bench. They'll struggle to defend, but the postseason is a realistic goal.
DeMarcus Cousins will have to really step up his play if he's to live up to his extension.
The Cousins extension was questionable, but they added some real talent. Like many teams, they can't defend, but this is a top-10 offense.
Kawhi Leonard doesn't have much of an off-the-bounce game, but he does literally everything else well.
Another year, another playoff run. They reloaded over the summer, and Leonard is becoming something special. The team to beat in the West.
Jonas Valanciunas is becoming a real player for the Raptors.
The Raptors' post-Bargnani starting lineup was awesome, and they'll contend for the playoffs this year. Valanciunas' development is key.
Note: Have to include something about the Raptors' mascot, who tore his Achilles and is out for the season, according to the Toronto Sun's Ryan Wolstat. The Raptor is one of the best mascots in the league and never fails to get a laugh. Hopefully he heals up and comes back next season. He'll be missed.
The Jazz have young talent, but they'll be ugly offensively.
The offense will be ugly, but the defense won't, and there's young talent here. Kanter and Favors could be particularly awesome someday.
John Wall was a monster toward the end of last season.
Okafor or not, this is a very strong defensive team. If Nene stays healthy and Wall keeps it up, they're a sure playoff squad.