15. Charlotte BobcatsThe good news is that they won't be as historically bad as last season. The bad news is that they will still be one of the worst teams in the NBA. At least they won't look as bad as their owner's jeans. Maybe. 906 days have passed since the Bobcats last played in an NBA playoff game.
12. Toronto RaptorsIf and when the Raptors don't make the playoffs, their first round draft pick goes to the Houston Rockets unless the pick is in the top 3. Either the Raptors will have to be better than they've been in years or they'll have to be so bad (or fortunate) that they land a top 3 pick. Bone for tuna. 1634 days have passed since the Raptors played in an NBA playoff game.
11. Detroit PistonsGreg Monroe will be counted on to continue his improvement if the Pistons have any hope of turning things around. The Pistons have size on their frontline, but their backcourt is suspect. 1271 days have passed since the Pistons played in an NBA playoff game.
10. Orlando MagicThe Magic will not make the playoffs but they won't be totally terrible either. They have enough veteran players to be competitive. They also have enough veterans who could mentally check out as the losses begin to pile up. Of course, it's no secret that Orlando wants to make a trip to the lottery as quickly as possible to get a high draft to fill the void left by Dwight
9. Milwaukee BucksThe Bucks have a plethora of 6'10" forwards, so grabbing rebounds shouldn't be much of a problem. Rebounding will come in handy since then Bucks backcourt isn't shy when it comes to shooting. Scott Skiles will be counting on Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis to mesh their skills and cause havoc for the opposition. This team is a borderline playoff team and it wouldn't surprise me if they nabbed a playoff spot. Unless they choke like they did down the stretch last season. 900 days have passes since the Bucks last played in an NBA playoff game.
8. Atlanta HawksDanny Ferry unloaded the behemoth contract of Joe Johnson and will be looking to wheel and deal to improve this franchise. The Hawks added Lou Williams to make up for some of Joe Johnson's scoring production. They also added sharpshooters Kyle Korver and Anthony Morrow. Josh Smith and Al Horford are all-star caliber players. Jeff Teague is a solid point guard. Despite losing Johnson, the bottom of the East isn't exactly the toughest place to play and the Hawks should be able to make the playoffs.
7. Chicago BullsThe mighty have fallen both figuratively and literally. Upper management completely dismantled the best bench unit in the NBA and slapped together some mimimum salary replacements hoping for...I don't know what exactly. In spite of Gar Forman's declaration that off-season moves would be based on "basketball decisions", financial choices were made to keep as much money as possible in Jerry Reinsdorf's pockets. The good news is that the team retained one of the best coaches in the NBA in Tom Thibodeau. The defense will still be one of the best in the Association. How this team is going to generate consistent offense remains to be seen. I don't anticipate the Bulls leading the NBA in regular season wins for a third straight year. 173 days have passed since the Bulls title hopes were torn apart along with the anterior cruciate ligament in Derrick Rose's left knee. #superdoodyface
NBA Championship is if they hop inside the Delorean and set the flux capacitor to 1973. Of course, half of their current roster was about 30 years old back in '73 but that's neither here nor there. Carmelo Anthony declared over the summer that he was tired of scoring 30 or more. Yeah, right. Amar'e Stoudamire spent the summer learning post moves with Hakeem Olajuwon. It's a good thing it only took 10 years in the NBA for Amar'e to decide to develop a post game. Too bad he has to get the ball in the post to use those moves. The Knicks want a championship, but I doubt they'll even win the city championship this season now that Brooklyn's in the house. 14406 days have passed since the Knicks won an NBA Championship.
4. Philadelphia 76ersThe Sixers will be looking to build on their playoff experience from last season. If they have a healthy Andrew Bynum for this upcoming season, they can be a top four team in the East and will be a legitimate threat to Boston for the Atlantic Division crown. In related news, Bynum has been dealing with issues related to his knees and isn't expected to be availed to the team until one week before the season starts.
2. Boston CelticsBoston has reloaded in a major way. They got solid picks in the 2012 draft and signed quality free agents to bolster their backcourt. The Celtics also took a chance on Darko Milicic, which could pay big dividends for them if he's receptive to Doc Rivers. If not, look for Kevin Garnett to have a word or two for Darko. Losing Ray Allen hurts, but the guards that will pick up his minutes (Avery Bradley, Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, Leandro Barbosa) aren't bad options in their own right. Their backcourt depth is a strength, but if Kevin Garnett gets injured any and all championship hopes can be forgotten. The team was among the league's worst rebounders and their new front court editions will have to prove they can improve in that category. It wouldn't surprise me if Boston did not finish the regular season in the second position out East due to the veterans coasting, but I fully expect the Celtics to return to the conference finals for a rematch and for revenge.
1. Miami HeatThe road to the NBA Championship goes through Miami this season. They got Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. They're moving Chris Bosh to the 5 and LeBron to the 4. There is only one team currently constructed to handle the speed of the Heat and they were dispatched in five games last June. The pressure to win a ring is off LeBron James' shoulders. Pretty much the only thing that can derail their title defense is injuries. In related news, Dwyane Wade is returning from offseason knee surgery, Ray Allen's ankles are still painful for him and Mike Miller is being held together by duct tape. Their window is open.
For the third consecutive season, the Heat will represent the Eastern Conference in the NBA Finals. This time, they'll be defending their championship and their chances to repeat look good.