Los Angeles Lakers
The Lakers are the deepest and most talented team in the league. They finally have their young center Andrew Bynum back from injury. He makes a huge impact on the Lakers as he creates a defensive presence inside and is a fantastic rebounder, which they lacked in the Finals.
They have the best player in the game in Kobe Bryant and a great supporting cast. They are one of the top offensive teams in the game. They are also turning into a very good defensive team now that they have the great perimeter defender in Trevor Ariza and the down low presence of Andrew Bynum back.
Right now, I think that it is safe to say that the Lakers are the favorites to win it all.
New Orleans Hornets
One of the most exciting teams in the league. Led by Chris Paul, the Hornets are most likely a top three seed in the mighty Western Conference. They have a terrific power forward in David West, the rebounding machine and shot blocker in Tyson Chandler, and one of the best outside shooters in the game in Peja Stojakovic.
They also have good role players like James Posey, Morris Peterson, and Hilton Armstrong. They will miss their backup point guard Jannero Pargo who left for Europe.
Overall, I think this team has a legit shot at a championship and will be there at the end.
When healthy, the Rockets are one of the scariest teams in the league. They have their own version of the "Big Three" in Yao Ming, Tracy McGrady, and Ron Artest. They are always one of the top defensive teams in the game. But the only problem with this team is health.
Yao has missed 25+ games in each of the past three seasons. T-Mac also missed over 20 games last season. If this team can stay healthy, they will be a very dangerous team in the west.
The NBA champion Celtics are coming into this season as the obvious favorites in the East. But they are going to have to do it without key players James Posey and PJ Brown. They still have the "Big Three" in Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen and they are the best defensive team in the league.
I think they will finish atop the Eastern Conference, but will not have as many wins as they did last season. The East is much more competitive as teams like the Sixers, Cavs, Raptors, and Heat are becoming stronger teams.
The Pistons have something now that they have lacked the past couple of seasons: a superstar. They pulled off a blockbuster trade in which they sent Chauncey Billups and received Allen Iverson. They now have a fantastic scorer in Allen Iverson, a good all around player in Richard Hamilton, a good big man in Rasheed Wallace, a great defender in Tayshaun Prince, and a great bench.
This team has gone to the Finals six straight seasons, but have lost in the last three. I think they are still contenders to win it all this season with or without Allen Iverson. They have a lot of experience and also a lot of youth.
The Cavs are always a threat because they have LeBron James. He finally has a reliable second option now with Mo Williams running the point. They also have a good center Zydrunas Ilgauskas, a good perimeter player in Wally Szczerbiak, a great defensive player in Ben Wallace.
Overall, the Cavs are a great team and are always dangerous when they have a player by the name of LeBron James.
I know many people are shocked. The Jazz are a very good team, but I do not think they have enough to get past teams like the Lakers, Hornets, and Rockets. The Jazz lost to the Lakers in the semi-finals last season, while the Lakers did not have their starting center.
San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs are a great team when healthy. But with Manu Ginobili out until December and Tony Parker out for the next two to four weeks, the Spurs are going to have a difficult time trying to win games for the next month. They will still make the playoffs, but they will be one of the lower seeds and will likely face either the Lakers, Hornets, Rockets, or Jazz in the first round.
They have a superstar in Dwight Howard and good players in Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis. Besides them, they have an average point guard and a below average bench. This team will have 50+ wins, but once it comes playoff time, it is very unlikely that they will get past teams like the Celtics or Pistons.
The Sixers are a much stronger team now with Elton Brand. They have a very talented team with a lot of youth. Players like Andre Igoudala, Thaddeus Young, and Louis Williams are up-and-coming stars. Even though this team has a lot of talent, three point shooting and chemistry is a huge weakness for this team. This team does not have any pure shooters.