1. Miami- With minimal changes and the Big 3 returning, the Heat are poised to have not only the best record in East but in the NBA. The regular season essentially becomes a 4 plus month warmup to the playoffs and even then, NBA public wants to see how this team (specifically LBJ) reacts in the finals
2. Chicago- Rip Hamilton or not, the Bulls bring back the core of their time. The biggest question: Is Carlos Boozer able to stay healthy? And if so, is he the true post scorer they though he was was?
3. New York- Whether Tyson Chandler makes the Knicks a title contender this year is highly debatable but he does upgrade a non existant defense. The questions will surround the backcourt of rookie Iman Shumpert, Toney Douglas and 92- year old Mike Bibby
4. Boston- The compressed schedule hurts Boston the most as KG, Ray, and Paul entered their combined 47th season of NBA basketball. The Celtics will try to get through with minimal injuries and manage minutes closely to get ready for the playoffs , sacrificing wins for health
5. Orlando- The D12 saga will dominate the headlines all season. If he stays all season, Magic are still capable of finishing fifth. If not,.....
6. Atlanta- The Hawks find themselves in a familar position even with the loss of Crawford. They will wow you at times, they will have you scratching your head at others. Does J-Smoove finish the year with the Hawks?
7. Milwaukee- Year Two under Scott Skiles becomes a pivotal year for Brandon Jennings who took a step back from the other young point guards in the league. If Skiles can harness Jennings mercurial talent, along with a healthy Bogut, the fiery Captain Jack, the Bucks will be a bitch (in a good way) to score on most nights
8. Indiana- I like the David West move but don't like a team where Danny Granger is the best player. Despite challenging the Bulls in last year's playoffs, I don't think the Pacer are able to make a jump forward and hold down eighth
Eastern Conference All-Stars
Starters: Derrick Rose, Lebron James, Dwayne Wade, Dwight Howard, Carmelo Anthony.
Reserves: Amare Stoudamire, Al Horford, Stephen Jackson, John Wall, Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, Danny Granger