The NBA begins on Christmas Day, after a two-month delay due to the lockout.
Here are the top five contenders for the NBA Championship in 2012.
I really like this Knicks team. Carmelo Anthony and Ama're Stoudemire are a great one-two punch, and the newly acquired Tyson Chandler will allow this Knicks team to make a run at the championship.
Never count out this team. Their talented, yet aging core of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett is still kicking, plus some guy named Rajon Rondo will allow this team to contend.
Los Angeles Clippers
I really, really wanted to include this team in the top five, but in the end I left them out. Blake Griffin and Chris Paul will make for some highlight plays and will definitely carry the Clippers to the playoffs for the first time since the 2005-2006 season.
Although weaker than they were last year, the Los Angeles Lakers are still a great team. They lost Lamar Odom, by basically just giving him away to the Mavericks for draft picks.
An aging Kobe may not be at his best, but he has something to prove. His team got swept last year in the playoffs by the eventual champion Dallas Mavericks.
Kobe, Pau Gasol and the very experienced Derek Fisher in the playoffs is not something most teams want to face.
Look for this team to make a lot of runs in the playoffs in upcoming years. They are a talented young team with a very bright future.
This team is scary—stars Kevin Durant and Russel Westbrook have yet to hit their peaks but are already among the most talented in the game.
The defensive presence of both Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins will be a great one. Supporting cast member James Harden is as good as any other and will provide much value.
It may be a crime to put the reigning champions as No. 3 on this list, but I don't see them as the favorites.
They gained Sixth Man of the Year Lamar Odom, although they lost big man Tyson Chandler to the Knicks.
Although still amazing, Dirk Nowitzki is another year older. But still, Dirk himself puts the Mavericks as the No. 3 contending team for the NBA Championship.
The Chicago Bulls recently acquired forward Richard Hamilton, and in my opinion, this pushes them past the Dallas Mavericks at the No. 2 spot on this list. He is a good scorer and can take some of the pressure off of last year's MVP, Derrick Rose.
Chicago has the best 1-through-5 starting lineup in the NBA. And their deep bench, filled with role players such as Taj Gibson, Kyle Korver, Ronnie Brewer, C.J. Watson and Omer Asik, will be a major strength.
There's no denying it. Despite losing last year in the finals, the Miami Heat are the best team in the NBA. They are the favorites to win the NBA Championship this season.
By all accounts, the Heat will be better this season than they were last.
With the Big Three (Two) now comfortable together on the court, expect them to go all out. LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh are and will be a great tandem for years to come.