As you all know, the NBA will start back up within the next three weeks and from the signs of things, this will certainly be a season to remember.
NBA Primetime will be ranking both conferences periodically throughout the regular season.
Since it is still technically offseason, this will be the "upcoming season" breakdown (expect rankings to change at least once a month once the season begins).
The Western Conference
1. Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers headed into the offseason as the defending champions and unquestionably as the best team in the NBA. The signing of Ron Artest and the re-signing of Lamar Odom just added a nice little icing onto the cake. A healthy LA team will certainly be in reach of another championship title during the upcoming season.
2. San Antonio Spurs
Although Tim Duncan is not getting any younger, the Spurs organization definitely provided him with an extra boost of relief this offseason by the acquiring of Richard Jefferson, the signing of Antonio McDyess, and the drafting of DeJuan Blair. Add Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, and a young and upcoming George Hill to the mix, and the Spurs look to be the only team able to contend with Los Angeles this year.
3. Dallas Mavericks
Owner Marc Cuban went out and acquired high-flying Shawn Marion and center Drew Gooden this offseason. While the Devin Harris/Jason Kidd trade is still haunting Mr. Cuban, the Mavericks roster looks absolutely phenomenal on paper. If the chemistry is there and the core of the team can remain healthy, the Mavericks will be competing with the Spurs for the two spot this season.
4. Portland Trail Blazers
The Blazers are a young assembled roster with infinite amounts of potential. The signing of veteran point guard Andre Miller brings Portland the much needed experience on the court and in the locker room, but the big question relies on if Greg Oden will ultimately be able to produce and remain durable throughout the season. If so, Portland is in for a spectacular year.
5. Denver Nuggets
Denver ranks at the five spot for the main reason that they didn't necessarily improve during the current offseason. Their frontcourt, composed of Nene and Kenyon Martin, are very injury prone and it will take only one starter to go down before their record sinks.
6. Utah Jazz
After all the trade talks regarding to Carlos Boozer, Utah ended up keeping the forward on their roster. With Deron Williams running the point, the Jazz are in for another enticing season with much to prove. If Boozer is dealt before the trade deadline you can expect Paul Millsap to compete for the Most Improved Player of the Year award.
7. New Orleans Hornets
New Orleans won the award for best trade during the offseason when they gave away center Tyson Chandler for center Emeka Okafor. Okafor brings a lot more to the table for the Hornets and will undoubtedly raise all his averages alongside of the best point guard in the league in Chris Paul. Julian Wright will get an opportunity to start at the three spot, giving him the chance to excel in fantasy play.
8. Phoenix Suns
The Suns were the unfortunate team during the end of last season when they missed the playoffs by just two games. With a healthy Amare Stoudemire, Phoenix is officially going back to their run and gun style with head coach Alvin Gentry running the show. The Suns starting five will look something like Steve Nash as the point, Jason Richardson at the two, Grant Hill at the three, Amare Stoudemire at the four, and either Channing Frye or Robin Lopez at the center spot.
9. Los Angeles Clippers
The Clippers enter the season with an outstanding team on paper, once again. LA got attacked by the injury bug last season, losing Chris Kaman for the majority of the year, Marcus Camby for 20 games, Baron Davis for 17, and Zach Randolph for 32. With the young talent consisting of first overall pick Blake Griffin, Eric Gordon, Al Thornton, and DeAndre Jordan, the Clips are just a season away from competing in the postseason.
10. Houston Rockets
Losing Yao Ming for an entire year and Tracy McGrady for a few months definitely drops the Rockets overall rating. Houston will look to mix and match with Carl Landry, Chuck Hayes, Luis Scola, and David Andersen at the center spot, but regardless of the situation, the team will be pounded down low. The Rockets chances of making it to the playoffs are minimal at best.
11. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors are composed of an exciting and fast paced team. Rookie Stephen Curry will seek to show what he is all about, while forward Anthony Randolph gets the opportunity to start and instantly produce fantastic numbers all across the board. Stephen Jackson is no longer the "Captain Jack" of the Warriors organization and if he is dealt, Golden States value will immediately drop.
12. Memphis Grizzlies
Memphis went out and acquired guard Allen Iverson and forward Zach Randolph this offseason. Conley will assume the starting point guard duties and should be in for a breakout season, unless AI steals the spotlight. Mayo and Gay will both enjoy a great year if they can stay healthy, but the percentages of the Grizzlies making the playoffs are slim to none.
13. Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant will officially burst into the superstar spotlight this season once he grabs his first scoring title. Teammates Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green, and James Harden will each contribute to the Thunders' success this season, inevitably surpassing last season's 23-59 record. It will be only a matter of seasons before the Thunder rank amongst the elite in the West.
14. Minnesota Timberwolves
We all knew Ricky Rubio would never come play for the NBA, so the Wolves went out and signed youngin' Ramon Sessions. Sessions will run the point along with a very young core composed of both Al Jefferson and Kevin Love.
15. Sacramento Kings
Tyreke Evans, Spencer Hawes, and Jason Thompson will each enjoy a serious fantasy jump this season. As for the Kings as a team overall, they are absolutely horrific. Kevin Martin will lead the team in points, but after another 20-win season, you can't blame the guy if he demands to be traded.