The 2010-2011 NBA season kicks off tomorrow night with three games, two of them being nationally televised on TNT to start the season.
It should be a great season with perhaps some new faces competing for a spot in the playoffs.
The biggest storyline is most likely who will beat out the LA Lakers for the West title, if anyone. The Lakers are attempting to win their fourth straight conference championship and third straight NBA title.
There are three big teams in the East this season, but is there a darkhorse? Here's my opening week NBA power rankings, along with playoffs and awards predictions.
Sonny Weems (Toronto Raptors)
Let's start off the power rankings with teams that are in for a very bad season.
These teams either have no talent or are just not good enough to compete this season. Here are the bottom 10 teams to start the season.
30. Toronto Raptors
They lost Chris Bosh and Hedo Turkoglu in the offseason, and weren't even a great team with them last season. Now, you can expect a huge rebuilding season with some younger players such as Sonny Weems and Andrea Bargnani, but don't expect more than 25 wins.
29. Cleveland Cavaliers
For the most part, the NBA is all about having that one star player. The Cavaliers no longer have that guy.
LeBron James has taken his talents to South Beach, and for the first time since the pre-LeBron era, it's rebuilding mode for Cleveland. They do have talent, but the knock was always that they had no supporting cast for LeBron.
He's gone, so now what?
28. Minnesota Timberwolves
The Timberwolves aren't any better than they were last season.
They traded for Michael Beasley, they do have Jonny Flynn and now Wesley Johnson. But that won't get it done this season.
The West is loaded with so many good teams that the Wolves may lose as many as the Nets did last season. If you want to win in the Wild West, you better have a Kobe or Durant on your team, which Minnesota doesn't.
27. Indiana Pacers
Once again, a case of a team with talent, but no immediate success in their future.
What have the Pacers proven of the last couple of seasons? Guys like Mike Dunleavy and Danny Granger are only good for their own stats.
This same group of guys lost 50 games last season, and Troy Murphy has been traded to the Nets. Not going to cut it.
26. Los Angeles Clippers
I see many people picking this team to net the eighth spot in the West this season.
My question is—why?
What has Blake Griffin proven in the NBA? Who is Baron Davis scaring?
OK, so Eric Gordon paired with Grffin make a good young nucleus. Chris Kaman will help a little bit.
But is this team knocking off anyone in the West? The eighth spot last season went to the Thunder.
The Clippers aren't this year's Thunder.
Jonas Jerebko (Detroit Pistons)
25. Detroit Pistons
It's really ashame because the Pistons were perennial conference finals contenders.
They've just slacked off a bit, and this year is no different. Now, they aren't as awful as the previous five teams, but they aren't contending for anything this season.
This is a team with a mixture of young guys and veterans who have been around. Jonas Jerebko is an exciting young talent, but not good enough to take a 55-loss Pistons team to the playoffs.
24. Washington Wizards
This is your East version of the LA Clippers. A team not going anywhere that people pick to be a darkhorse.
I don't see how that's possible. Gilbert Arenas is up to his old controversial tricks after last year's gun incident and the acquisitions made aren't that of a champion.
Kirk Hinrich and Yi Jianlian aren't mind-blowing names, and John Wall is just a rookie no matter what anyone says. You have heard of Greg Oden and Blake Griffin right?
Let's back off the Wizards for now.
23. Sacramento Kings
The Kings are an interesting little bunch.
This team actually has potential to surprise many in the West, so they can move up on this list as the season unfolds. Rookie of the Year Tyreke Evans is back and even better, and DeMarcus Cousins can win the award this season.
Samuel Dalembert was acquired from the 76ers in the offseason to help even more. I still think they are a year or so away, but expect an improvement.
22. New Jersey Nets
What a bust! Even with the big Russian billionaire, the Nets struck out on all 10 free agents this offseason.
No LeBron or Wade or Bosh or even David Lee. Yi Jianlian is gone, and a new coach is in place.
Devin Harris and Brook Lopez are an outstanding young duo with major potential, but if that was good enough, why the attempt at a major free agent? They won't lose 70 games this season, but perhaps 55.
21. Philadelphia 76ers
Would you like a team that's way too hard to figure out? How about the 76ers?
Who knows which direction this team is headed in. There's some darn good talent on this team starting with Andre Iguodala, but can they make the playoffs in a weak Eastern conference?
It'll take some hard work and luck because this isn't a roster that fits together well. It seems like something's missing.
They won't be awful, though. Just not good enough.
David Lee (Golden State Warriors)
The Warriors are going to be a much-improved team this season.
Stephen Curry is entering his second season in the league, and David Lee was acquired in a trade from the Knicks in the offseason.
There are some nice young players on this team and, in my opinion, they're a darkhorse in the West. It'll be tough to crack the top eight unless you're extremely good this season, but the Warriors have a chance as they finally have a brand-name player with some youthful young talent.
O.J. Mayo (Memphis Grizzlies)
Just like the Warriors, the Grizzlies are a team that's on the rise.
O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay are a great combination, and they have the big presence with Zach Randolph.
This team could potentially be this year's version of the Thunder, where all the talent comes together and a lot of games are won.
They still have some work to do, as they haven't been able to win games on the road. They had a winning record at home last season and won 40 games, so an overall winning record is not out of the question.
Gerald Wallace (Charlotte Bobcats)
If you take preseason into account, the Bobcats had the best defense in basketball.
They allowed 93.8 points per game, which ranked first in the NBA.
Maybe Charlotte should be a tad higher to start the season on this list, but there's one problem with this team. The way they play down to the competition on the road is mind-boggling.
Last season, they went 31-10 at home, but 13-28 on the road. How does that possibly happen?
Now, they did somehow get into the playoffs, as a No. 7 seed, no less—showing just how bad the East is—but got swept in the first round. They have some guys who can play, but don't expect any improvement unless they win away from home.
The Hornets had a very disappointing season last year.
For a team that's led by a player of Chris Paul's caliber, a 37-45 record should never happen. It did, though, and there were really no transactions made to improve the team off last year.
Chris Paul is not happy, as he asked to be traded at one point reportedly, and the whole situation is a mess.
There just aren't enough guys around him to make something happen. Guys like Emeka Okafor and Peja Stojakovic can help, but they aren't championship material.
Danilo Gallinari (New York Knicks)
Don't let this high ranking for the Knicks make you stop reading the article.
I know it may seem crazy, but the Knicks won't be terrible this season.
For years, they haven't had any talent whatsoever. Now, they enter the season with a starting five that's reasonable.
They didn't get LeBron, but they did get A'mare Stoudemire, who is a five-time All-Star and has made it the last four seasons in a West loaded with great players.
Around him are Danilo Gallinari and Wilson Chandler, who are two nice young players. They finally have a point guard that's not a backup in Raymond Felton, who will dish it to the big men.
Look for the Knicks to perhaps sneak into the playoffs as an eighth seed.
The Rockets always seem to be an overrated team.
They're always hyped and they never get anywhere. The same thing will apply this season.
Yao Ming is back, but he can be out for the season on opening night. The other guys on the team are a bunch of also-beens.
Courtney Lee, Jared Jeffries and Jordan Hill are three guys that have all been dumped by New York-area teams, which shows you they don't have enough talent. Shane Battier is past his prime, and Luis Scola is nothing more than average.
Yes, they'll go on their little winning streaks, but this team disappoints every season dating back to their Tracy McGrady days.
Now we begin looking at the West powerhouses.
Believe it or not, every playoff team in the West won 50 games, and that obviously includes the eighth seed.
These Trail Blazers won that many and they have a good defense. They also have some explosive players on offense, starting with Brandon Roy.
The question is, what will Greg Oden ever become? He's always injured, and hasn't shown his talents from Ohio State.
If he can ever evolve into the player he's supposed to be, as he's only 22-years-old, then this team could contend big time in the West. Expect another good season, though, for Portland.
This may be the final shot for the Spurs to win with this current core of players.
There has been a lot of speculation that Tony Parker will leave after this season, and Tim Duncan isn't getting any younger.
Don't get me wrong, the Spurs are still a good team. But can they win it this season? Probably not.
They shouldn't have any major issues getting back to the playoffs, but it's going to be a fight, nonetheless.
The days of the Spurs dominating opponents is all but over, and they'll have to hope that their older veterans could put it together at least one more season.
Carlos Boozer is now with the Bulls, but that doesn't mean the Jazz can't compete.
Their point guard is arguably the second-best at his position in the league to Paul, and they made a good draft pick by getting Gordon Hayward from Butler.
Al Jefferson and Andrei Kirilenko are good players, and Utah led the league in assists per game in the preseason.
In a bunched up West, the Jazz are just another team chasing down the Lakers. They may not win 53 like last season, but they shouldn't have a major drop off because of Boozer's departure.
Andrew Bogut )Milwaukee Bucks)
The Bucks really stunned people last season, winning 46 games and making the playoffs as a sixth seed.
This year, they could be even better with more experience.
Andrew Bogut has become a monstrous player, and with star point guard Brandon Jennings, this team could finish in the top half of the Eastern playoff picture.
After the top three teams in the conference, there aren't any clear top-level teams. There is so much talent on this Milwaukee team, and if they play up to their capability, they could win 50 games this season.
Right now, I'm starting the season with the Hawks 10th.
That, though, can change in a heartbeat. Atlanta could have a top five roster in the NBA talent-wise.
They won 53 games last season. If it wasn't for a midseason stumble, they could've won 60 or more.
They re-signed Joe Johnson, and they are bringing back every player from their starting five from the last couple of seasons. They have the best sixth man in the NBA in Jamal Crawford.
With starters like Josh Smith and Mike Bibby, the Hawks can potentially make a run at the East, although it's a long shot.
The Mavericks are back in business, having re-signed Dirk Nowitzki.
If he had left via free agency, this team would have a lot of work to do. They won the second-most games in the West last season to the Lakers, and at some points, looked like they could beat them.
For some reason, I don't see Dallas being as successful this season, although I definitely see them finishing in the top four.
There are guys on this team to help out Nowitzki, but is the supporting cast good enough? Jason Kidd is now 37 years old and Shawn Marion's production is decreasing.
This will be Caron Butler's first full season with the Mavericks, and as a whole, they should be good. I do have some doubts, though.
Will this be Steve Nash's final season in Phoenix? Perhaps.
So it's time to win a championship already. It doesn't look like that's a sure thing.
The Suns did lead the league in points per game in the preseason, but that's expected from them with their up-tempo offense.
They added Hedo Turkoglu to the fold this offseason, and there are other guys to take the ball from Nash. The missing piece, though, is Amar'e Stoudemire.
Who's going to replace his 20 points and 10 rebounds? In a perfect world, Nash would be feeding to Stoudemire for most of the big points, but that won't be happening anymore.
Is an older Grant Hill going to be carrying the load? Expect a decrease in wins from Phoenix this season.
Derrick Rose (Chicago Bulls)
The Bulls should almost be a lock to make the playoffs in a weak Eastern conference with all the talent on their roster.
They're just loaded, having signed Carlos Boozer this offseason. He'll miss some games with a broken hand, but even without him to start, Chicago can win some games.
They won 41 last season, and now they add a scorer of Boozer's caliber, which has everyone buzzing about them.
The guy who makes this team go is point guard Derrick Rose, who has become an unbelievable player. Factor in guys like Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, and the newly-added Ronnie Brewer and this team is in for a huge season, barring any more injuries and a slow Boozer recovery.
Is Carmelo Anthony on the Knicks or Nets?
If so, drop this team to the bottom of the barrel. Of course, he's still with Denver, but if he's gone by February, expect a rebuilding team next season.
Getting back to reality, this is a great Nuggets team. Winning 53 games in the West proves that, and it could happen again this season.
For some reason, a lot of people are down on Denver, and I don't see why.
Guys like Chauncey Billups, Chris Andersen, Ty Lawson, Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith should get you excited. The Nuggets also added Al Harrington to the mix, and he's a solid sixth man.
Expect big things from Denver this season, and if they're competing with the Lakers, don't expect Anthony to be dealt. 50+ wins out of the Nuggets is very possible.
In the West, you have the Lakers and then the Thunder.
If any team is going to dethrone the Lakers, it's this team. This could be the next coming of the Lakers.
Kevin Durant will be an MVP candidate this season, having led the league in scoring last season. Just take a look at who this team has besides Durant.
Jeff Green, James Harden, Thabo Sefolosha, Russell Westbrook and it just keeps on going with great young players. The scary thing is, none of those aforementioned players are older than 26 and their leader, Durant, is only 22-years-old.
I wouldn't be surprised to see this team face the Lakers for the West title come May. They're that good, and if Kobe gets older or struggles fast, watch out!
Here we start with the Big Three in the East.
The Orlando Magic kick things off, and you can really place these teams in any order you want. To me, the Celtics and Heat are a little better right now.
Once again, we're looking at a team that's loaded. Of course, Dwight Howard is the man—or should I say Superman—but his supporting cast isn't too bad.
Vince Carter seems to still have it at his age of 33, and Rashard Lewis completes the solid trio.
Jameer Nelson is still only 28, but he must stay healthy. He's always the wild card in the Magic picture. If he can play 75 games and produce, this team would be unstoppable.
The biggest intrigue will be the battle of Southeastern opponents. In fact, the threesome of Orlando, Miami, and Atlanta should make for a great race.
Nope. I'm not putting the Heat first, even with the "Big Three."
I just don't see why they're any better than the Lakers or Celtics. So they have three star players—what's that supposed to mean?
The Celtics have three star players and a great supporting cast, and they have only won once.
Can they immediately win a championship like Boston did three years ago? Of course.
But I'm not jumping on the bandwagon just yet.
The three in Boston came together to win a championship. These three came together for publicity.
Nobody knows how they'll play together and who'll get the ball when it counts the most late fourth quarter.
They'll be great, but championship-caliber? Not so fast.
Last season, I thought this team was old.
I thought they had nothing left, and man, did they prove me wrong. This time, I'm starting with them second.
Until Boston's "Big Three" shows signs of fading, they're the team to beat in the East. Rajon Rondo is now an elite point guard, and Nate Robinson isn't a bad sixth man with his energy.
The additions of Delonte West and Shaquille O'Neal aren't a big boost in my opinion, but they still have the veteran presence in a Shaq.
The key will be the health of Kevin Garnett. If he can play for the majority of the season, then the Celtics should head back to the Finals. No matter what, as long as they for the most part stay healthy, this team will win at least 50 games again.
So there may have been no suspense leading up to this pick.
That's too bad. Blame it on the Lakers for being so darn good every season.
Kobe didn't have a strong preseason, and maybe that'll get Thunder or Nuggets fans excited, but who are we fooling? Come Thanksgiving, Kobe will be just fine and this team will lead the West.
The Lakers are attempting to win the West for a fourth straight season and win a third straight title, and what's going to stop them other than themselves?
With Ron Artest, they have a great defense, and with Kobe and Pau Gasol, they have a great offense. There's not a whole lot to say other than this team is great.
Here are my picks for the eight teams who'll make the playoffs out of the East and who'll win the conference:
Eastern conference champion: Celtics
Here are my picks for the eight teams who'll make the playoffs out of the Wast and who'll win the conference:
6. Trail Blazers
Western conference champion: Lakers
Here are my picks for awards and the 2010-2011 NBA champion:
MVP: Kevin Durant
Rookie of the Year: DeMarcus Cousins
Defensive POTY: Dwight Howard
Sixth Man: Jamal Crawford
Coach: Doc Rivers
2010-2011 NBA champion: Celtics