1. Los Angeles Lakers (1): The Lake Show adds Ron Artest into their already impressive nucleus of talent. The big question is whether Artest fits into the team blueprint as well as Ariza did.
2. San Antonio Spurs (2): Adding Richard Jefferson was huge for the Spurs. Instead of a guy like Roger Mason picking up the slack when Duncan, Ginobili, or Parker inevitably get injured, Jefferson will be able to light it up.
3. Portland Trail Blazers (6): Greg Oden has been the story of the preseason. This is his first season of playing completely healthy and ready. If he is as good as he showed in college then the Blazers are in for a very good year.
4. Denver Nuggets (7): This is Carmelo's year to prove that he's really a super, super star. However, they had so many guys have career years last season they can't possibly replicate that again.
5. Utah Jazz (8): If Carlos Boozer can play most of this season the Jazz have a really good chance to crack the top four in the West. They fell apart without Boozer last year, but with Deron Williams getting better and better the Jazz can only
get better and better.
6. New Orleans Hornets(10): CP3 continues his reign as the best point guard in the game. Adding Emeka Okafor really helps them inside since Chandler was so inconsistent.
7. Phoenix Suns (11): The Suns will be better off without Shaq. Jason Richardson is better than he gets credit for. With him and Amare getting more touches, the Suns will be tough for anybody to stop once again. They won't be as good offensively and they are atrocious defensively, so they will barely squeak into the playoffs.
8. Dallas Mavericks (13): The Marion deal looks good on paper, but is Marion even good anymore. That's not a given. It's not like they added any huge pieces to an aging team that doesn't have a good number two option. They will struggle more than people realize.
9. Houston Rockets (17): Having Yao out for the year kills them. Aaron Brooks, Shane Battier, and Luis Scola are all very good players, but not a nucleus of a playoff team.
10. Los Angeles Clippers (20): The curse of the Clippers continues. Blake Griffin is out for multiple weeks with a fractured kneecap before he played a game. The Clips will still be decent if Baron and Gordon can stay healthy.
11. Oklahoma City Thunder (21): Few people realize that this team barely won 20 games last year. They aren't going to make a 20 game leap all of a sudden. That just doesn't happen in basketball. They didn't add any new pieces. Durant, Westbrook, and Green's year to year improvement isn't worth 20 wins.
12. Memphis Grizzlies (24): The Grizzles actually have a lot of weapons. Zach Randolph, Allen Iverson, O.J. Mayo, and Rudy Gay can all fill it up. They just need to find the balance of who's getting the shots. They'll outscore plenty of teams.
13. Minnesota Timberwolves (26): They traded away two key guys in Foye and Miller for nothing. Love is out for the first few weeks of the season. Getting Jefferson back helps them more than anything though. Flynn looks to be a very good point guard.
14. Golden State Warriors (27): There is no question that Golden State has talent, they just have talent all in the same place. They have about three or four speedy guards and about three or four swingmen. They don't have any inside game and their Don Nelson is doing his own thing. This team is in disorder.
15. Sacramento Kings (29): There is much young talent here with guys like Hawes, Thompson, and rooks Casspi and Evans. Unfortunately, those guys still haven't developed too much and will suffer through a horrible season.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (3): Hail to the King. LeBron James is clearly the best player we've seen since Jordan dominated the league more than ten years ago. If Shaq works out, the Cavs have to be the favorites to win it all. They added some other good bench guys like Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon as well.
2. Boston Celtics (4): Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels were both nice additions to the Celts, but the Big Three are all declining. They'll be slightly better than last year, but they won't be the juggernaut they were two seasons back.
3. Orlando Magic (5): Vince Carter gives the Magic are real, pure "scorer" for the first time in Dwight Howard's stardom. Their starting lineup is the best in the league; Howard, Bass, and Lewis in the frontcourt and Carter and Nelson in the backcourt. They have impressive depth as well. Don't sleep on Orlando this season.
4. Chicago Bulls (9): Chicago showed glimpses of what they are capable of in the playoffs this year and will play like that during the season this year. Derrick Rose has the potential to be the best scoring point guard in some time. The Bulls are a young, dangerous team with a whole bucket of depth.
5. Philadelphia 76ers (14): Losing Andre Miller hurts, but Lou Williams is very capable. They get Elton Brand back, who has the potential to put up 20 and 10 if he's fully healthy. He is one of the best power forwards in the league, when healthy. Iguodala can only get better.
6. Toronto Raptors (15): Hedo still has a few good years in him. He will mesh with Calderon and Bosh and the Raptors will make the playoffs for the first time in a while. Despite a good season this year, they will still face the inevitable fact that Bosh will not be a Raptor next season.
7. Atlanta Hawks (16): Too many youngsters in Atlanta and an unhappy star is not a good recipe for a great team. The lack of contenders in the East will allow them to make the playoffs once again though.
8. Washington Wizards (18): Arenas comes back and the Wiz get Mike Miller and Randy Foye from the T'Wolves as well. They have crazy depth and will score points in the bunches. Injuries are almost unavoidable, but they'll have enough games with healthy Arenas and Jamison to make the playoffs.
9. Charlotte Bobcats (19): Charlotte's basketball is failing once again and the team has no real star to call their own. Gerald Wallace is very good, but not good enough to carry a team on his back. the Okafor for Chandler swap is a big step backwards.
10. Miami Heat (12): Dwyane Wade has to carry that team on his back last year. It will show this year as he gets injured and the rest of a subpar team struggles without their mega-star.
11. Detroit Pistons (22): Adding Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva won't help the fact that this team has no real leaders. Losing McDyess and Wallace really hurts them in that aspect. Rodney Stuckey will never be the guy they though he could be.
12. New Jersey Nets (23): Devin Harris and Brook Lopez are great building blocks, but losing a guy like Vince Carter is a huge blow to the offense. We'll see how good Courtney Lee is this season.
13. New York Knicks (25): New York is just bad. They don't even have an above average NBA player. Mike D'Antoni will win games with his system, but there's no way this team could land LeBron.
14. Indiana Pacers (28): Danny Granger and...? Granger is all that they have going for them and he's not a game changer like a Wade who can lead his team to a winning season without much talent. Indiana fans are in for a long year.
15. Milwaukee Bucks (30): Losing Richard Jefferson and Charlie Villanueva can't help a team that was awful last year. Their only hope is if Michael Redd can stay health. "Only hope" means 30 wins by the way.
First, Second and Third All-NBA Teams
G Chris Paul/Brandon Roy/Derrick Rose
G Kobe Bryant/Deron Williams/Dwyane Wade
F LeBron James/Carmelo Anthony/Pau Gasol
F Tim Duncan/Kevin Durant/Dirk Nowitzki
C Dwight Howard/Amare Stoudemire/ Al Jefferson
MVP: LeBron James- LeBron is motivated more every season and with Kobe winning the title, he will even be more pumped. LeBron's going to have another huge season this year, with a spike in assist numbers by getting the ball to big Shaq a few times per game.
Defensive Player of the Year: Dwight Howard- "Superman" only stands to get better defensively every year. It's a foregone conclusion that he will lead the league in rebounds and blocks. Usually that means a D-Poy is in order.
Rookie of the Year: Tyreke Evans - Evans will put up good stats on a bad team. Fortunately for Evans, its the stats that count.
Coach of the Year: Gregg Popovich - Pop has only won one COY to his name. He gets No. 2 while leading the Spurs to a big comeback season.
Sixth Man of the Year: Manu Ginobili: Ginobili is the only guy in the league to come off the bench and determine the outcome of almost every game. To be fair, he comes off the bench in name only, he plays more than many starters.
Most Improved: Derrick Rose- Rose is poised for a monster season this year. Like Chris Paul's jump from his first year, but more points. Rose is a ultra star in the making. He'll be the best point guard in the league in five years, not Paul.
Cleveland over Washington in four
Boston over Atlanta in six
Orlando over Toronto in five
Chicago over Philadelphia in seven
Los Angeles over Dallas in five
San Antonio over Phoenix in seven
Portland over New Orleans in seven
Utah over Denver in six
Cleveland over Chicago in seven
Boston over Orlando in seven
Los Angeles over Utah in five
San Antonio over Portland in five
Cleveland over Boston in seven
San Antonio over Los Angeles in six
Cleveland over San Antonio in six
Finals MVP: LeBron James