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2010-11 NBA Predictions: How Every Team in the NBA Will Fare

Shams CharaniaContributor IOctober 27, 2010

2010-11 NBA Predictions: How Every Team in the NBA Will Fare

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    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    After several headline stories dominated the offseason—from LeBron James' "Decision" to reports that Carmelo Anthony and Chris Paul have asked to be traded—the 2010-11 NBA season is finally upon us.

    Can the Los Angeles Lakers complete the three-peat, which would be coach Phil Jackson's fourth?

    How will the Miami Heat fare this season after an offseason of epic proportions? By the same token, whose team is it: Dwyane Wade's or LeBron James'?

    Those are just a handful of the questions heading into the 2010-11 NBA season, which got underway Tuesday night.

    Without further ado, here's how every team in the NBA will finish this season.

Atlanta Hawks

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 53-29 

    Key Acquisition: None

    Key Losses: None

    The Atlanta Hawks had a fairly quiet offseason. However, they did re-sign Joe Johnson to a six-year, $119 million deal. Another move that will have an impact heading into the 2010-11 NBA season will be the hiring of Larry Drew.

    Drew is taking over for Mike Woodson, who coached the Hawks for six years. What Drew will bring to the Hawks is a question mark at this stage.

    The Hawks won 53 games last season, and 47 the year before that; however; both seasons ended in second-round sweeps.

    Johnson, the best Hawks player, had a very disappointing playoff series versus the Orlando Magic last season, scoring 12.8 points per game on a putrid 29.8 field goal percentage. 

    Nonetheless, the Hawks signed Johnson to the richest contract any free agent received this summer, which will put the franchise in a financial stranglehold for the next few seasons. And the Hawks aren't the spending type of team to begin with.

    For the Hawks to be in the conversation as title contenders, they will have to improve from within. Players like Al Horford, Jeff Teague and Josh Smith will need to have breakout seasons for the Hawks to compete for a title.

    For now, the Hawks are a good team that's a piece away from being legit title contenders.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 48-34

Boston Celtics

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 50-32

    Key Acquisitions: Shaquille O'Neal, Jermaine O'Neal, Delonte West

    Key Losses: Tony Allen

    After getting written off as a legit title contender last season, the Boston Celtics proved doubters wrong, coming one quarter away from winning a hard-fought seven-game series against the L.A. Lakers in the NBA Finals.

    The Celtics had a busy offseason, signing future Hall of Famer Shaquille O'Neal, center Jermaine O'Neal and getting a very versatile, but troubled, guard in Delonte West. A few moves that will get overlooked were re-signing two core players—Paul Pierce and Ray Allen—along with persuading head coach Doc Rivers to stay with the team for one final run.

    However, the loss of Tony Allen, a defensive, athletic shooting guard, could hurt the Celtics in terms of backup depth for Ray Allen, especially with Delonte West being a question mark because of his off-court issues and injury problems.

    The Celtics will have a chip on their shoulders this season, and with Pierce, Allen and Kevin Garnett aging, the whole team knows this could be their last hoorah.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 51-31

Charlotte Bobcats

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    2009-10 Record: 44-38

    Key Acquisitions: Kwame Brown, Shaun Livingston

    Key Losses: Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler

    After making the playoffs for the first time in franchise history last season, the Charlotte Bobcats come into the season with another year of experience and solid team chemistry.

    However, with the loss of Raymond Felton and the great defensive big man, Tyson Chandler, the team should take a step back this season.

    With Felton no longer in the fold, the Bobcats will need projected starting point guard DJ Augustin to develop into what made him the ninth pick in the 2008 NBA draft.

    Tyrus Thomas, acquired in a midseason trade from the Chicago Bulls, will also need to improve his decision making, something Larry Brown has tried to work hard on since Thomas came to Charlotte.

    Gerald Wallace, who averaged a career-high 18.2 points and 10 rebounds per game last season, will need to repeat his performance if the Bobcats will again be a playoff team. Wallace stuffed the stat sheet night in, night out, and a repeat performance out of the 28-year-old would be outstanding for the Bobcats.

    The 'Cats aren't anywhere near competing for a title, but with continuous internal growth, along with a healthy season, the Bobcats can find themselves back in the playoffs.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 42-40

Chicago Bulls

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    Nick Laham/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 41-41

    Key Acquisitions: Carlos Boozer, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver, Keith Bogans 

    Key Losses: Kirk Hinrich, Brad Miller

    After missing out on big-name free agents like LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh, the Chicago Bulls got nice consolation prizes, signing valuable players Carlos Boozer, Ronnie Brewer, Kyle Korver and Keith Bogans.

    Boozer will give the Bulls the kind of player they haven't had since 2001, when Elton Brand averaged 20 points and 10 rebounds—a big man who can record big numbers on a nightly basis.

    Brewer, Korver and Bogans, the projected starter at shooting guard, will provide the Bulls with a lot of backcourt depth. When one shooting guard is out with an injury, the Bulls will still have two other adequate NBA guards.

    With another year under Derrick Rose's belt, the star point guard will continue to develop into a perennial NBA All-Star.

    The Bulls will miss Boozer for the first month to start the season; however, if he can stay healthy this season, the Bulls can be a sleeper team that could very well upset a powerhouse in the East such as Miami, Boston or Orlando.

    Overall, the Bulls are a piece away from being favorites in the Eastern Conference. But with improvements from last season's remaining core, along with the additions of Boozer, Brewer and Korver, the Bulls could very well find themselves in the Eastern Conference Finals.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 50-32

Cleveland Cavaliers

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 61-21 

    Key Acquisition: Ramon Sessions

    Key Losses: LeBron James, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, Shaquille O'Neal

    The Cleveland Cavaliers offseason was not defined by the big moves they made. In fact, it was defined by the big moves they didn't make.

    Losing LeBron James via free agency will make the Cavaliers considerably worse this season; however, with a weak bottom half in the Eastern Conference, making a run at the eighth playoff seed won't be out of the question this season for the Cavs.

    Losing a two-time MVP will knock the Cavaliers out of any hopes of contending for a title, but the players will be determined this season to prove the doubters wrong and show that they don't need LeBron James.

    Improved play from young power forward J.J. Hickson is something the Cavaliers will depend on this season. Last year, Cleveland had a chance to trade Hickson and other pieces to the Phoenix Suns for Amar'e Stoudemire.

    The Cavaliers held strong in their belief in Hickson, and didn't trade the young big man.

    If the Cavaliers are to compete for a playoff seed, they will need Hickson to produce and earn the starting power forward spot. A disappointing season from Hickson will lead to a really awful basketball team down in Cleveland.

    Expect Cleveland to have a chip on their shoulder; development from Hickson, along with the leadership from Mo Williams, could propel the Cavaliers into the playoffs.

    Anything more than that is a pipe dream.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 32-50

Dallas Mavericks

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 55-27

    Key Acquisition: Tyson Chandler

    Key Losses: Erick Dampier

    The Dallas Mavericks are one of the few teams left in the NBA that are a lock for 50-plus wins year after year after year.

    Dating back to the 2000-01 season, the Mavericks have won 50 or more games in 10 straight seasons. However, they have zero titles and only one NBA Finals appearance to show for it.

    The Mavericks lost Erick Dampier this offseason; however, Mark Cuban went out and signed Tyson Chandler.

    Cuban has done all he can to surround star forward Dirk Nowitzki with talent, but the Mavericks still fail to win in the postseason consistently.

    Not much to say with the Mavericks. They are a fantastic regular-season team and, with improved postseason play, can challenge the L.A. Lakers in the Western Conference.

    But until the Mavericks fix their postseason issues, this team will always be a regular-season dynasty that fails to win when it matters.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 54-28

Denver Nuggets

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 53-29

    Key Acquisitions: Al Harrington

    Key Losses: None

    Coming off three straight 50-win seasons, the Denver Nuggets would seem the best choice as the team that can compete for a title.

    With a 26-year-old superstar in Carmelo Anthony, perennial All-Star Chauncey Billups, along with solid role players Kenyon Martin, Nene, Ty Lawson and Arron Afflalo, the Nuggets have all the talent to compete for a championship for years to come.

    However, locker-room problems, along with often-injured players like Martin and Nene, have dropped the Nuggets in the estimation of many fans.

    Anthony didn't make things better when he reportedly asked for a trade this offseason to teams that include the New York Knicks and Chicago Bulls.

    Why would Anthony want to leave a team that has won 50-plus games for three straight seasons, with the potential to only get better?

    The Nuggets are very dysfunctional at this point. To consider them as a title contender is a bit of a long shot; however, if Anthony realizes his team's potential this season and decides to stay, Denver has limitless upside.

    Assuming Anthony will stay with the Nuggets, they should win over 50 games this season. Nevertheless, the Nuggets trading Anthony seems like a very likely scenario, especially after they saw what happened to the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 47-35

Detroit Pistons

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 27-55 

    Key Acquisitions: Greg Monroe (via draft), Tracy McGrady

    Key Losses: None

    It was an ugly 2009-10 season for the once-powerhouse Detroit Pistons.

    Mired with injuries to key acquisitions Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva, along with unstable team chemistry, the Pistons faltered to their first back-to-back losing seasons since 1993-94 and 1994-95.

    However, the Pistons still have a solid amount of young talent and added a former superstar this offseason, Tracy McGrady.

    The difference McGrady can make is a question mark, but if he's anywhere near his superstar self, the Pistons might have found a gem.

    Nevertheless, the likelihood of McGrady playing like his former superstar self is about as likely as the Pistons finding themselves in the playoffs this season.

    All in all, the Pistons have a decent team on paper, but their playing style fluctuates from night to night, and could lead to a troubled locker room all season.

    The Pistons have enough talent to get around 30 wins, but anything more would require everything to go right for the team.

    Expect the Pistons to be a bottom dweller in the Eastern Conference this season, nothing more, and definitely nothing less.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 29-53

Golden State Warriors

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 26-56

    Key Acquisitions: David Lee, Lou Amundson

    Key Losses: Anthony Randolph, Corey Maggette

    Competing in the Western Conference isn't easy—just ask the Golden State Warriors. Coming off a disappointing 26-win season, the Warriors relieved head coach Don Nelson of his duties and went out and got a 20-and-10 machine in David Lee.

    Golden State doesn't have the talent to compete in the West, nor do they have the experience; however, they can upset very good teams on any given night.

    Expect the Warriors to be a bottom-tier team in the Western Conference. But with the young, up-and-coming talent they have, the Warriors can find themselves competing for a playoff seed in a few seasons.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 29-53

Houston Rockets

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    Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 42-40

    Key Acquisitions: Courtney Lee, Brad Miller

    Key Losses: Trevor Ariza

    An undermanned Houston Rockets team managed to hover around .500 most of last season, ending up with a 42-40 record.

    This season, however, the Rockets will get back star center Yao Ming, albeit for 24 minutes per game.

    Although Ming will have limited playing time, he will bring the Rockets a presence in the post that they didn't have last season, opening up the lanes for several perimeter players such as Aaron Brooks.

    The Rockets will be a playoff team this season; however, if they can amp up MIng's minutes per game at some point this season, they will be an even stronger team.

    Look for the Rockets to be a playoff-caliber team. But one thing is sure—they will be much improved heading into this season.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 45-37

Indiana Pacers

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    2009-10 Record: 32-50  

    Key Acquisition: Darren Collison, Paul George (via draft)

    Key Losses: Troy Murphy

    The Indiana Pacers had a tough 2009-10 campaign, winning just 32 games. However, acquiring Darren Collison from the Hornets will bring the Pacers something they lacked last season: a true point guard who can lead the team on the court.

    The point guard position was a question mark for the Pacers last season, with T.J. Ford and Earl Watson getting the starts at the 1.

    With the addition of Collison, the Pacers should win a few more games this season. But in the NBA, it comes down to how much talent you have, and the Pacers just don't have the talent to compete—not at this stage.

    One man who can make a big difference is Roy Hibbert, who has lost a considerable amount of weight and has developed a solid mid-range shot.

    For the Pacers, it all starts and ends with Danny Granger, the sharp-shooting scorer the Pacers have trusted as the franchise's No. 1 player. While Granger can score with the best of them, the Pacers are hoping he takes his game to the next level this season.

    With a core of Granger, Collison and Hibbert, the Pacers have a solid future. However, this season the talent around those three won't be enough to compete for a playoff seed.

    With that said, there's no doubt the Pacers will be a better team this season.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 36-46

Los Angeles Clippers

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 29-53 

    Key Acquisitions: Al-Farouq Aminu (via draft), Randy Foye, Blake Griffin (injury)

    Key Losses: Steve Blake, Travis Outlaw

    With Blake Griffin looking like a beast and new head coach Vinny Del Negro, the Los Angeles Clippers have high hopes heading into the 2010-11 season.

    A healthy Baron Davis, combined with an improved Eric Gordon and healthy Blake Griffin, should help the Clippers compete with quality teams this season.

    Coach Del Negro should also help bring better team chemistry to the Clippers as he did in Chicago.

    Look for Griffin to compete for the Rookie of the Year. In turn, the Clippers will be much better than last season.

    Nevertheless, fans shouldn't expect a playoff team just yet.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 38-44

Los Angeles Lakers

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    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 57-25

    Key Acquisitions: Steve Blake, Matt Barnes

    Key Losses: Jordan Farmar

    Coming off back-to-back NBA titles, the Los Angeles Lakers are undoubtedly the favorites to win it all again this season.

    The Lakers brought two solid role players, Steve Blake and Matt Barnes, onto the ship this season to provide the team with a backup point guard and defensive forward, respectively.

    The Lakers will win over 55 games again and the 2011 NBA Title.

    Overall, they will give more rest to Kobe Bryant, especially with all the knee problems he has had the past couple seasons.

    With a core of Bryant, Pau Gasol, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom and Andrew Bynum, the Lakers will be title contenders for years to come.

    One thing is sure—Phil Jackson likes his titles in threes.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 56-26

Memphis Grizzlies

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 40-42

    Key Acquisition: Xavier Henry (via draft), Tony Allen

    Key Losses: Ronnie Brewer

    Thanks to a breakout season from Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol, the Memphis Grizzlies hovered around the .500 mark throughout last season, eventually finishing with a 40-42 record.

    While making the playoffs in the West will be tough for the Grizzlies, this team will only improve.

    A couple players who need to step up for the Grizzlies are O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay, who received a five-year, $82 million deal this offseason.

    Both are outstanding scorers, but the intangibles—rebounding, leadership and clutch performances—are what both need to improve if the Grizzlies will be legit playoff contenders.

    Look for the Grizzlies to pile up a few more wins this season, but they are still a few years away from being a playoff-type team.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 43-39

Miami Heat

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 47-35

    Key Acquisitions: LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Mike Miller 

    Key Losses: Michael Beasley, Jermaine O'Neal

    "I'm taking my talents to South Beach," said LeBron James back in July.

    That might be the biggest moment in Miami Heat history, as James completed the Miami Thrice, teaming up with All-Stars Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.

    There's no doubt the Heat are talented; however, they will need time to all get all their players on the same page.

    With just one big man over 7'0", the Heat could face trouble against teams with size. But a team with this much talent will get things together in no time.

    The Miami Heat have enough talent to compete for a title from Day 1, but it will take some time for them to gel as a team.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 64-18

Milwaukee Bucks

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    Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 46-36

    Key Acquisitions: Corey Maggette, Drew Gooden

    Key Losses: Luke Ridnour

    Thanks to a good rookie season from Brandon Jennings, a breakout year from Andrew Bogut and midseason acquisition John Salmons, the Milwaukee Bucks went to the playoffs and took the Atlanta Hawks to seven games.

    The Bucks acquired Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden this offseason in an effort to boost their playoff team; however, the Bucks will need continued development from Jennings and a healthy Bogut to take a step forward and become an even better team.

    If the Bucks can get internal improvement from their core players, they could win close to 50 games this season, but that will be tough in a revamped Eastern Conference.

    With the Chicago Bulls retooling, the Bucks will have to battle to win the Central, and the Bulls have already been anointed the early favorites in their division.

    The Bucks have all the talent to take a step forward this season, and they have a tough, defense-minded coach who can lead the Bucks forward.

    Look for another playoff appearance out of the Bucks. Milwaukee fans are hoping other NBA teams realize they must "Fear the Deer."

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 47-35

Minnesota Timberwolves

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    Bryn Lennon/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 15-67   

    Key Acquisitions: Michael Beasley, Martell Webster, Wesley Johnson (via draft)

    Key Losses: Al Jefferson, Ramon Sessions

    Let's be real here: The Minnesota Timberwolves won't be competing for a title anytime soon.

    However, they have some solid young talent on board, such as Kevin Love, Michael Beasley and Wesley Johnson.

    Losing Al Jefferson will hurt the T'Wolves down low this season, but with Team USA experience under Love's belt, he should be a consistent double-double machine this season.

    Who knows? Maybe the young talent they have—Beasley and Johnson, among others—can blossom in Minnesota.

    Nonetheless, the T'Wolves will be a bottom dweller in the Western Conference. Anything more than 20 wins will be a surprise for Minnesota fans.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 17-65

New Jersey Nets

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    Elsa/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 12-70 

    Key Acquisitions: Troy Murphy, Jordan Farmar, Derrick Favors (via draft), Anthony Morrow 

    Key Losses: Courtney Lee

    After missing out on big-name free agents like LeBron James and Chris Bosh, the New Jersey Nets went out and signed Anthony Morrow and traded to acquire Troy Murphy.

    However, they also lost young shooting guard Courtney Lee, who never got a chance to make his mark as a Net.

    New Jersey will rely on a healthy season from point guard Devin Harris if they are going to make any sort of playoff run, along with continued development from young big man Brook Lopez.

    Look for the Nets to be a decent team this season if the key players can stay healthy; however, they don't have the talent to be legit playoff threats this season.

    The future is bright in New Jersey, but it will take some time.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 31-51

New Orleans Hornets

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    Chris Graythen/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 37-45

    Key Acquisitions: Trevor Ariza, Marco Belinelli

    Key Losses: Darren Collison

    Chris Paul's injuries—which forced him to miss 37 games—killed the New Orleans Hornets last season.

    Paul, frustrated with the lack of moves made by the Hornets front office, reportedly requested a trade this offseason as well.

    Darren Collison was traded in a move that got the Hornets Trevor Ariza, an athletic small forward who showed a much improved three-point shot last season.

    There is no question the Hornets front office made a quick decision, getting rid of a young point guard in Collison.

    But with their star disgruntled, it left the Hornets no other choice.

    With a rough start to the season, it wouldn't be out of question that Paul could be dealt come February.

    Assuming Paul can stay healthy, the Hornets should be right in the mix for a playoff seed in the Western Conference; however, it will be awfully tough with several other teams in the hunt.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 44-38

New York Knicks

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 29-53 

    Key Acquisitions: Amar'e Stoudemire, Anthony Randolph, Timofey Mozgov, Raymond Felton 

    Key Losses: David Lee, Chris Duhon

    Despite missing out on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade, the New York Knicks spent their money wisely this offseason, giving Amar'e Stoudemire a five-year, $99.7 million deal.

    They also acquired Anthony Randolph in a sign-and-trade with the Golden State Warriors, but lost double-double machine David Lee.

    The Knicks also signed point guard Raymond Felton this offseason; in coach Mike D'Antoni's run-and-gun system, Felton could thrive and put up the best numbers of his career.

    With all the money spent this offseason, the Knicks will be a much better team than last season's 29-win team.

    However, don't look for the Knicks to make a playoff appearance. But as Amar'e Stoudemire put it, anything over 29 wins is an improvement for the New York Knicks.

    "The Knicks haven't made the playoffs in nine, 10 years," said Stoudemire, his history a bit off. "Anything better than we did last year is a success."

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 38-44

Oklahoma City Thunder

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 50-32

    Key Acquisitions: Morris Peterson, Cole Aldrich (via draft), Daequan Cook

    Key Losses: None

    Thanks to an MVP-caliber season from Kevin Durant, the young, energetic Oklahoma City Thunder won 50 games in the 2009-10 season.

    With a young core of Durant, Russell Westbrook, Jeff Green and James Harden, the Thunder will only improve this season.

    The Thunder front office has done a remarkable job drafting great role players to surround franchise stud Durant.

    They even took the eventual champions, the Lakers, to six games last season.

    In Durant's first career playoff series, he averaged a stellar 25 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.37 steals per game.

    However, his 35 percent field goal percentage and 28.6 percent three-point percentage leave something to be desired.

    Nonetheless, Durant, 22, will only improve this season as a leader and star for the Thunder.

    Look for a 55-win season from the Thunder this season. It wouldn't shock anyone if the Thunder make a deep playoff run, improving on last season's six-game series versus the Lakers.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 55-27

Orlando Magic

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    Sam Greenwood/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 59-23

    Key Acquisitions: Chris Duhon, Quentin Richardson

    Key Losses: Matt Barnes

    After a good run in the 2009-10 season, where they made it to the Conference Finals to face the Eastern Conference champion Boston Celtics, the Orlando Magic will look to make an even deeper run this season.

    The Magic lost defensive forward Matt Barnes to the Lakers this offseason, but made up for it by acquiring both backup point guard Chris Duhon and the projected starter at small forward, Quentin Richardson.

    Duhon will give the Magic a distributive point guard, running the offense when Nelson isn't on the court. And Richardson will give them more shooting to surround big man Dwight Howard.

    Speaking of Howard, look for an MVP-type season this year, as he proclaimed to the Orlando Sentinel:

    “Nobody’s joking around. We’re all about business on the court and getting better, and that’s the way it has to be. I think it starts with me and it finishes with me," he said. "When I’m serious, when I’m out with an attitude and focus, everybody else focuses in. There’s no playing around and no joking. We know what we have to do and we’re going to continue to do it.”

    With Howard's new, serious, all-business mentality alone, the Magic could be much better this season.

    The Miami Heat have gotten all the attention in the East, but it wouldn't shock any diehard NBA fan if the Magic make it to the Finals for the second time in three seasons.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 59-23

Philadelphia 76ers

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    Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 27-55

    Key Acquisitions: Evan Turner (via draft), Spencer Hawes

    Key Losses: Samuel Dalembert, Willie Green

    After a disappointing 2009-10 season, the Philadelphia 76ers retooled, hiring veteran coach Doug Collins and drafting guard Evan Turner with the second pick in the NBA draft.

    Doug Collins' presence alone will give the Sixers a few more wins, but their season will all depend on Turner's development.

    However, Turner will start the season coming off the bench, preferably in the backup point guard role, according to Collins.

    The Sixers will be better this season, but making the playoffs will be tough during Year 1 of the Collins regime.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 34-48

Phoenix Suns

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 54-28

    Key Acquisitions: Josh Childress, Hedo Turkoglu

    Key Losses: Amar'e Stoudemire, Leandro Barbosa

    Fans of the Phoenix Suns should be excited with their team coming off a 54-win season. However, after losing star forward Amar'e Stoudemire to free agency, many folks are down on the Suns. Reportedly, even Steve Nash is.

    "To be honest, if I was outside this picture and a betting man, I would probably pick us to be outside of the playoffs considering all the changes and the new guys," team leader Nash said.

    Losing a star forward would be a big deal for any other team, but with two-time NBA MVP Steve Nash, along with offseason acquisition Hedo Turkoglu, the Suns will be an underrated sleeper heading into the season.

    The days of contending for a title might be over for the Suns, but as long as Steve Nash is on that team, they will continue to contend for a playoff seed in a packed Western Conference.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 47-35

Portland Trail Blazers

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    Jonathan Ferrey/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 50-32

    Key Acquisition: Wesley Matthews

    Key Losses: Martell Webster, Juwan Howard

    Two words described the Portland Trailblazers in 2009-10: Injury-Prone.

    Let's take a look at the missed games for some key players on the 'Blazers:

    Greg Oden: 61 games

    Joel Przybilla: 52 games

    Brandon Roy: 17 games, including the first three of the 'Blazers' six playoff games

    Bottom line for the Trailblazers: If they can't stay healthy, the team will still be solid thanks to their good supporting cast; but if the 'Blazers want to take a step forward and compete in the West, they will need a healthy season from Roy, Przybilla and especially former first overall pick, Greg Oden.

    Look for another 50-win season for the Trailblazers, and maybe even a deep playoff run pending the health of a few core players.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 53-29

Sacramento Kings

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    Ethan Miller/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 25-57 

    Key Acquisitions: DeMarcus Cousins (via draft), Samuel Dalembert 

    Key Losses: Spencer Hawes, Andres Nocioni

    The Sacramento Kings will improve a bit this season, but any expectations other than a near 30-win season should be tempered.

    The Kings simply don't have the talent to compete in a stacked Western Conference. Don't get me wrong—with Tyreke Evans, DeMarcus Cousins, Omri Casspi and Jason Thompson, the Kings have a solid core to build around in the next few seasons.

    Their front office needs to bring in a few more scorers if the Kings want to compete; nonetheless, the team should be near 30 wins this season and show some flashes of what's to come.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 30-52

San Antonio Spurs

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    Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 50-32

    Key Acquisitions: Tiago Splitter

    Key Losses: Roger Mason

    Has age caught up to them? That's the question surrounding the San Antonio Spurs. Frankly, there is some validity to that: Tim Duncan is 34, Manu Ginobili is 33 and Tony Parker is an old 28.

    No, 28 is not old, but with all that playoff mileage on those legs, will Parker be able to stay healthy?

    Parker played in just 56 games last season. When he went out with his numerous injuries, the Spurs were noticeably worst.

    One player who will get an increased role this season is George Hill, who averaged 15.3 points per game when he started at guard.

    The Spurs will be in the playoff hunt this season, but championship expectations should be on hold unless the team can all finally be healthy come playoff time.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 49-33

Toronto Raptors

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    Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 40-42

    Key Acquisitions: Ed Davis, Linas Kleiza, Leandro Barbosa

    Key Losses: Chris Bosh, Hedo Turkoglu

    Coming off a very disappointing 2009-10 season, the Toronto Raptors lost Chris Bosh to free agency, and then traded free agent disappointment Hedo Turkoglu to the Phoenix Suns for guard Leandro Barbosa.

    The Raptors simply don't have the talent to compete this season. After winning 40 games last season with Bosh, a five-time All-Star, there are no signs to indicate they will be better this season without him.

    One player who could blossom with the departure of Bosh is Andrea Bargnani, who averaged a career-high 17.2 points and 6.2 assists per game.

    Without Bosh, Bargnani will be the undoubted focal point of the Raptors offense. If the Raptors want to win this season, Bargnani will have to put up plenty of shots—night in, night out.

    Hopefully for Raptors fans, the team can improve internally because they aren't financially built to spend money on big-time free agents anytime soon.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 24-58

Utah Jazz

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 53-29

    Key Acquisitions: Al Jefferson, Raja Bell 

    Key Losses: Carlos Boozer, Kyle Korver

    Although the Utah Jazz lost big man Carlos Boozer, they made up for his loss by acquiring just as active a big man in Al Jefferson.

    There shouldn't be a big drop-off, if any, from Boozer to Jefferson. The Jazz also acquired defensive specialist and three-point shooter Raja Bell this offseason.

    With both Deron Williams and Jerry Sloan, who is entering his 23rd season as Jazz head coach, still in the fold, Utah should continue to be a Western Conference powerhouse.

    A championship might be out of reach, but making a deep playoff run isn't out of the question.

    Look for the Jazz to eclipse 50 wins again this season. If Jefferson can mesh well with Williams, they could form one of the most feared point guard-center combos in the NBA.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 52-30

Washington Wizards

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    Mike Stobe/Getty Images

    2009-10 Record: 26-56

    Key Acquisitions: John Wall (via draft), Kirk Hinrich

    Key Losses: Randy Foye, Mike Miller

    There is no question the new franchise player for the Washington Wizards is No. 1 overall pick John Wall.

    This season will be all about the development of Wall, and most fans should take any other accomplishment as the cherry on top.

    The Wizards will top 30 wins this season, but with several teams ahead of them on the food chain, playoff hopes will be just dreams at this point.

    Another acquisition that will serve the Wizards and Wall well is Kirk Hinrich. Hinrich helped groom Chicago star Derrick Rose, and should do the same for the Wizards this season, helping John Wall reach the level of greatness.

    Hold off any playoff expectations for the 2010-11 Washington Wizards. But John Wall's development will be something to follow for NBA fans across the country.

    Projected Record in 2010-11: 35-47

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