#1 - Spurs - they're the champs and they've kept their team together, #1 until proven otherwise.
#2 - Phoenix - robert horry put them i this spot, not me. but they're THAT good, and if marion stays, can't put another team other than the spurs above them. best PG in the league and amare should be a year better.
#3 - Dallas - kicked ass in the regular season last year, only really had a problem with 1 team, not the other 29. don't expect another 1st round knock out this year.
#4 - Utah - i wonder if they would have got past dallas in last years playoffs... buuut i can't really hold that against them. awesome pg, pf, c combination, great coaching... they should only get better as deron improves.
#5 - Houston - great, great team. added some much needed depth and a PF with some game. a more offensive philosophy will help this group... they just need their big 2 to stay healthy
#6 - Boston - great new big 3. their depth may be young, but they're not as thin as many people would have you believe. if only they could do something about that coach. they haven't played a game yet though so i can't rank them any higher than this, even though i think they have more talent than a couple teams above them.
#7 - Cleveland - EC champs. LeBron is LeBron... they are going to be in trouble if pavlovic and varejao don't come back... but it doesn't make sense to go to europe for 1 year just to come back and play for the QO. my advice to those 2: take the QO, work your ass off this year, hit free agency next summer and make the cavs pay for not locking you up.
#8 - Detroit - consistent. they've done nothing to improve their chances of winning the championship, but they haven't lost any significant pieces to warrant a drop in the EC standings. these guys are REALLY hoping some of that youth they have comes to play this year... their front court needs it, especially if webber doesn't return.
#9 - Chicago - young team thats only getting better. added depth but will still struggle when they play against teams with big guards and they didn't do anything to address their lack of front court scoring. detroit and chicago are very close imo... im just giving the team with more experience the edge.
#10 - New Jersey - their big 3 are all healthy coming into this season. they added some depth up front and most importantly, got nenad back. nenad will be huge for NJ this season, bringing them the post scoring they need.
#11 - Denver - i don't like this team very much, but you can't deny the talent they have. iverson gives you 100% every game, melo shows up until the playoffs start, and camby takes care of things under the basket until he eventually breaks. if nene and martin (doesn't deserve to be called k-mart anymore... that goes to the guy in sacramento) are healthy coming into training camp and can remain healthy throughout the season, utah's grip on the north west division may not be as solid as most think.
#12 - Toronto - young team with nothing but upside. added depth to their roster in the offseason and only lost peterson. expect bargnani to have a solid season as he takes on more minutes and a larger role in the offense. this team had a slow start last season due to adding 9 new players, so i don't expect to see that this year as everyone should be fairly familiar with one another. this team will go as far as their young trio will take them.
#13 - Golden State - nellie ball is back. hopefully they can get baron's contract situation out of the way early, but if not, expect baron to shoot more than ever. im looking forward to more improvement from biedrins, and i'm not overly concerned about the loss of richardson... they have enough scoring power without him. top 2 most entertaining team in the league by far.
#14 - Washington - i don't know if they will ever make proper use of one of their draft picks, but if they can continue to steal players like jamison and butler via trades, they may not have to.
#15 - New Orleans - this team is finally healthy... i probably would have put them above GS if i had more than 2 chances to watch this entire team play together last year. only issue i can see is probably backcourt depth. i'm really excited to watch these guys play. anyone else feel that people have forgotten about chris paul?
#16 - Miami - Riley is desperate. i can think of very few free agents or players on the block that miami's name wasn't associated with this offseason. riley knows what everyone else knows, this is probably the last season they'll have a CHANCE at winning the east with shaq on their roster. word from offseason workouts is that penny has looked great... yea? we'll see.
#17 - Orlando - they're only this high, if you consider this high, because of dwight and shard. they have very little depth up front so expect howard to be exhausted by the time the playoffs come around. their GM is a bonehead but he made a good move by bring in stanley van gundy.
#18 - Milwuakee - What? milwuakee this high? yup! they should be healthy this season and have LOADS of depth. it'll take some time for the new coach to get his system in, and figuring out just how many minutes Yi gets will be an interesting sub plot. bogut and villanueva have a lot to prove this season. getting rid of stotts was probably a better move than boston getting garnett... he was THAT bad.
#19 - Memphis - healthy star? check. new coach? check. obtained a center so gasol doesn't have to play the bulk of his minutes at the 5 spot? check. memphis will be much improved this season. im expecting a big season from rudy gay, who showed flashes last year but clearly couldn't 'get it done' on a regular basis.
#20 - Los Angeles - Sorry laker fans, but whe your biggest free agent aquisition is derek fisher, you're not scaring anyone. unlike 03/04 when they went through a ton of controversy, they simply don't have the talent this year to put it behind them. if the lakers have a slow start, expect the kobe trade rumors to get louder and more frequent. if kobe does end up getting traded, thats great news for bynum.
#21 - New York - we'll see if marbury can actually come through with his prediction of averaging 13 points, 10 assists and 5 dimes, or whatever that crazy prediction was... im still laughing about it. randolph and curry give these guys a very big front court. i call this combination, the black hole. once a ball goes in there, don't expect it to come back out. big year for Zeke to prove that this squad he assembled can compete.
#22 - Clippers - clipp fans are going to hate me for putting them this low, but really... what are you expecting this season? brand is injured at the moment, and they didn't make a significant addition to the team. cassell will be a step slower this year, they still don't have a real 2 guard, and livingston doesn't look like he'll ever reach his potential because he's constantly on the IR. i'd like for this team to prove me wrong though.
#23 - Charlotte - everyone in charlotte is predicting playoffs... not so fast. charlotte is still VERY young. richardson has never been a go-to guy on a winnng team and they still have serious depth issues, especially up front.
#24 - Sacramento - this team has the talent, but their coach is a bonehead and their top 2 players are ALWAYS involved in trade rumors. when mikki moore is your big free agent signing, you're in trouble. hopefully artest can keep his head on straight this season and prove he's worth this upcoming max contract extension... and DON'T look at me like that people... you know its coming.
#25 - Atlanta - eventually this team has to start winning on a consistent basis, they have talent 1-5, and JJ is a legit go-to guy. hopefully horford can step in immediately and fill their need at the 4. and for everyone saying "what about josh smith?" shaddap, he's a 3 and belongs at the 3. speaking of josh smith, im hoping to land him in my fantasy draft this year.
#26 - Indiana - had to end sometime. time to blow this team up and build around... their upcoming top 5 draft pick. even granger isn't that impressive, he has the potential to be the 3rd option on a good team. do people in indiana even care about this team though? the Colts are playing...
#27, #28, #29, #30 - take your pick... i can't decide which one is worse. between philly, minnesota, portland and seattle, it's going to be an ugly season. but each team has players that should one day lead them out of the gutter. the team with the most impressive group of youngsters is portland. oden, roy and aldridge will be a great trio, one day. seattle has durant and green. 'sota has jefferson and foye, and some other youngsters who i think will develop into nothing, aaaaaaaaand philly has igoudala. luckily for these teams, next years draft is supposed to be decent, so every dark cloud DOES have a silver lining.
feel free to flame away or post a power ranking of your own... this sadly ate up nearly 30 minutes of my time.