The upcoming NBA season is full of interesting story lines. Will the Brooklyn Nets take the spotlight from the Knicks in New York? Can Steve Nash and Dwight Howard help Kobe get his 6th ring? Was Linsanity a fad cut short over a couple of dollars? Can Andrew Bynum become a franchise player? Will Lammy Kardashian have a bounce back season or become the subject of barbershop banter? Can the Miami Heat repeat as champions? We'll find an answer to all these questions starting Tuesday. For now here is a list of the top 8 teams in each division.
8. Toronto Raptors. They may have too many shooting guards, but if Terrence Ross can find his game and Andrea Bargnani can stay healthy they will make the playoffs.
7. Atlanta Hawks. With the departure of Joe Johnson it's time for Josh Smith and AL Horford to step up.
6. Indiana Pacers. They have two legitimate all stars in Roy Hibbert and Danny Granger and the Eastern conference doesn't have a lot of good teams.
5. Philadelphia 76ers. They may have some chemistry problems to start the season, but if Bynum can keep his head on straight they should win 50 games.
4. Boston Celtics. There's no replacing Ray Allen, but Jason Terry is an adequate alternative. We'll see what Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo bring to the table.
3. New York Knicks. Carmelo is getting tired of all the abuse and he's ready to take the next step. Kevin Durant's scoring title might be in jeopardy.
2. Brooklyn Nets. Joe Johnson doesn't have to be "the man" anymore so he can relax and play his game. The Nets have the 2nd best starting 5 in the Eastern conference.
1. Miami Heat. The Heat added the best shooter in the league and they have Lebron James. Need I say more?
8. Denver Nuggets. The Nuggets added Andre Iguodala, but so what? They play in the Western conference and the 8th seed is all they can hope for.
7. Utah Jazz. They don't have enough talent to beat the elite teams consistently, but they have enough to beat everyone else.
6. Dallas Mavericks. This pick is contingent upon OJ Mayo having a breakout season.
5. Memphis Grizzlies. I'm assuming they have put last year's playoff meltdown behind them.
4. Los Angeles Clippers. Lob City is still in full effect and Chauncey Billups is coming back.
3. San Antonio Spurs. The nucleus is getting old, but the pieces around them are young and fresh.
2. Los Angeles Lakers. Nash and Howard must stay healthy for this pick to make any sense.
1. OKC Thunder. After getting to the finals last year and coming up short the Thunder are extremely motivated to get back to the championship. They will be focused and lethal.
Championship match up: Los Angeles Lakers vs. the Miami Heat