1. Los Angeles Lakers
If Bynum stays healthy this team has a great shot at making the Finals. Actually now that I think about it as long as this team has Kobe they will be in the Finals. The Lakers have even a better roster than last year’s team with the addition of Steve Blake and Matt Barnes. Don’t expect the starters to play many minutes early in the season especially with Kobe rehabilitating his knee. However they shall do fine but they will need Bynum to be healthy when it comes playoff time especially if he will be facing Greg Oden (if ever healthy).
2. Orlando Magic
The magic have all their pieces back. Now if they can stay out of foul trouble they can have a great playoff run. With the addition of Quentin Richardson this team is looking to have a great run. They haven’t made many adjustments and when this team gets hot from three point range they can be tough to beat.
3. Miami Heat
Is this the 1992 Dream Team? Not quite, but this team has too much talent not to go far. With James, Wade, and Bosh there is plenty of points to be scored. The Heat should be fine just how will coach Erik Spoelstra mold this offense to be successful. Curious question; down one point with six seconds left who takes the last shot on this team? I like the rookie Kenny Hasbrouck especially with the summer league he had but he won’t see the court that much, too bad I guess. The Heat have high expectations but can they live up to all the hype and outside pressure?
4. Boston Celtics
The Celtics have their core of players back and are going to be hungrier than ever after losing game seven in the finals. The have added the O’Neals which could be quite interesting. I though Perkins was a good fit on this team and with him gone can Jermaine O’Neal stay healthy to give them a solid center they need if they have to face the Lakers again in the Finals?
5. Chicago Bulls
This team has craved for a low post scorer to go along with Derrick Rose and now they have it in Carlos Boozer. Not only that, but they have added shooters in Kyle Korver and Ronnie Brewer. This team has added depth and I like the combo of Noah and Boozer down low with Rose running the point. The East can be tough but expect this team to make a push near the top.
6. Oklahoma City Thunder
Kevin Durant played a lot of basketball this summer but don’t expect that to slow him down. Sam Presti has surrounded him with some good players and now some shooters in Mo Peterson and Daequan Cook. Will draft pick Cole Aldrich step up and be a tough center and rebounding machine this team needs? If they can get a valuable center and rebound better this team has their sites on making a run in the West.
7. Dallas Mavericks
Dallas should be very good again. The emergence of Rodrigue Beaubois and the addition of Dominique Jones gives the Mavs more scoring off the bench. Haywood is the center but can he still be a reliable force or will he just be there to defend and rebound? The Mavericks have high hopes before Kidd and Nowitzki retire. They just have never been able to get over the hump. Nowitzki should put up great numbers but he could also use a sidekick to take off the pressure on him in the playoffs.
8. San Antonio Spurs
The Spurs will be there when it all comes down to it. The question is do they have the athleticism and scoring power to take them far into the playoffs? They have added Tiago Splitter and James Anderson which gives this team a wealth of options off the bench. Tim Duncan is aging and hasn’t looked great the past two years. Don’t expect Duncan to play many minutes for the first half of the season. The Spurs will make the playoffs but can they put up enough points in the playoffs to compete against some of the younger guns in the West?
9. Portland Trail Blazers
Is Greg Oden in the NBA? Well I feel bad for the Trail Blazers but Greg Oden has only played in 82 games in three seasons in the NBA. The reason I bring this up is, if Greg Oden is healthy the Trail Blazers are a different team. With Camby, Oden, and Przybilla down low this team can compete with anybody. They have a great defensive front court, are young, and deep which leads me to believe that this team should be seeded high when playoff time comes. There biggest problem is just staying healthy. The Trail Blazers should be strong with a great chance at making a run into the Western Conference Finals.
10. Milwaukee Bucks
Andrew Bogut is making progress with his broken arm from last year which could make this team a sleeper in the East. They have great depth with the addition of Corey Maggette and Drew Gooden. After a stellar rookie year Brandon Jennings should strive to send this team into the playoffs. They just need to build chemistry in order for them to make a deep run. Without a backup center that could cause problems for them. The Bucks will be fun to watch but the East is too deep for them to go very far.