The NBA season tips off tonight, so what better time to roll out some preseason power rankings than the morning of?
1. Los Angeles Lakers
The champs begin their title defense tonight, when the Clippers "come to town."
2. Boston Celtics
Will the Rondo contract situation have much of an effect on the rest of the team? I'm leaning towards "no."
3. Orlando Magic
No contender underwent more of an offseason makeover than Orlando did. Here's hoping Dwight Howard can take a few more steps towards becoming a truly dominant offensive center.
4. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs reloaded after a disappointing first-round exit in the playoffs last season, and are once again legitimate contenders.
5. Cleveland Cavaliers
If there's ever been a team that needs to win a championship, it's the 2009-10 Cavs.
6. Denver Nuggets
George Karl and Chauncey Billups managed to keep all of the Nuggets' different personalities in check last season, and they won 54 games. If they get off to a bad start, things may not go too smoothly.
7. Dallas Mavericks
The re-tooled Mavs have plenty of firepower surrounding Dirk Nowitzki, and could be right on the brink of being an elite team.
8. Portland Trail Blazers
Coming off of their first playoff berth with this group, this is the year the Blazers are supposed to make real noise come April.
9. Utah Jazz
Will they trade Carlos Boozer? If so, how much will they be able to get in return?
10. Atlanta Hawks
Last season's Eastern Conference fourth-seed could be the league's best-kept secret.
11. New Orleans Hornets
CP3 and company have more than enough talent to finish higher than seventh, as they did last season.
12. Phoenix Suns
The Suns will be back to full strength running-n-gunning this season. Will it translate into wins and a playoff spot?
13. Chicago Bulls
Many are expecting point guard Derrick Rose to make the leap to superstar in just his second pro season.
14. Washington Wizards
The Wizards have plenty of star power, it's just a matter of being able to keep them all healthy enough at the same time to succeed (Antawn Jamison is already out for a little while). In the long run this season, my expectations of them are high.
15. Philadelphia 76ers
Before Elton Brand was lost for the season last year, Philly had trouble fitting him into their system. With a new coach, will they be able to flourish together this season, assuming he's healthy?
16. Houston Rockets
We'll find out a decent amount about the Rockets over the course of their first two games: a back-to-back in two tough places to play, Portland and Golden State.
17. Toronto Raptors
It'll be interesting to see how the Raptors look with so many new faces. Having spent so much money over the summer, they should have something to show for it.
18. Miami Heat
Outside of Dwyane Wade, this team has countless question marks. If Beasley can start looking like the guy he was at K-State, they'll move up.
19. Detroit Pistons
Will the additions of Gordon, Villanueva, and three rookies be enough to keep them in the Eastern playoffs?
20. Oklahoma City Thunder
The "new Blazers" should be one of the more fun teams to watch this year, and could be lurking near the bottom of the Western playoff picture.
21. Los Angeles Clippers
News of Blake Griffin's kneecap injury put a damper on the opener tonight with the Lakers.
22. Indiana Pacers
Danny Granger, one of the league's brightest young stars, hopes to lead his Pacers to the playoffs for the first time.
23. Charlotte Bobcats
The Okafor-for-Chandler trade really makes the Bobcats deficient offensively down low.
24. New Jersey Nets
Brook Lopez looked like a keeper as a rookie center last season, and Devin Harris became an All-Star. They likely aren't going anywhere this season, but at least New Jersey appears to have a solid core.
25. Golden State Warriors
Golden State has tons of young talent, but all the dysfunction in the past couple of years has them looking like an NBA version of fellow Oaklanders, the Raiders.
26. New York Knicks
Still waiting for 2010.
27. Minnesota Timberwolves
Assuming the recent Achilles problem shouldn't be a long-term hindrance, it'll be interesting to see how Al Jefferson returns from last year's season-ending ACL injury.
28. Milwaukee Bucks
Brandon Jennings could be a dark horse Rookie of the Year contender.
29. Memphis Grizzlies
How are they going to be able to divide the ball between AI, Randolph, Gay, and Mayo?
30. Sacramento Kings
Spencer Hawes and Jason Thompson give the Kings an underrated young frontcourt.
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