Like the prior preview entry, playoff teams have asterisks by their names.
- Boston Celtics* – If Allen, Garnett, and Pierce can all avoid long stretches on the injured list, then this team can compete for a title. Whether they make an NBA Finals rides on whether Rajon Rondo is ready to be the point guard and whether Doc Rivers can get out of his own way as a coach.
- Toronto Raptors* – Adding an outside shooter like Jason Kapono to Chris Bosh and Andrea Bargnani (with T.J. Ford dishing to them) is a great get.
- New York Knicks – I think the Knicks miss the playoffs by the skin of their teeth. Be very, very afraid if Zach Randolph and Eddy Curry can get going down in the post.
- New Jersey Nets – Jason Kidd is still a marvel to watch, but Vince Carter isn’t what he used to be and Richard Jefferson isn’t utilized enough.
- Philadelphia 76ers – There is a nucleus to build around with the Andres (Iguodala and Miller), plus a couple of decent role players, but there’ s no consistency here.
- Detroit Pistons* – Despite losing to the Cavs in the playoffs, they’re still the dominant power in this division, and adding guys like Rodney Stuckey and Arron Afflalo to back-up Chauncey and Rip might be the steals of the draft.
- Chicago Bulls* – Yeah, they need someone to bang inside, but I wouldn’t have dealt Luol Deng, Ben Gordon, or Kirk Hinrich for that body inside.
- Cleveland Cavaliers* – LeBron and everything after. What has Danny Ferry done to help him get back to the Finals?
- Milwaukee Bucks – Another year and maybe we’ll see some payoff from Andrew Bogut and Yi Jianlian.
- Indiana Pacers – You know it doesn’t look good when marketing is trotting out your coach.
- Washington Wizards* – I know they don’t play a lick of defense, but Miami’s aging, the Magic are too green, and I can’t imagine them losing the way they did to Cleveland without Agent Zero and Caron Butler out with injuries.
- Miami Heat* – Sending away Antoine Walker for Ricky Davis was a good move, as an energy guy. Dwyane Wade will be carrying Pat Riley’s wound on his separated shoulder.
- Orlando Magic* – If Jameer Nelson can get the ball to Rashard Lewis (overpaid) and Dwight Howard (soon to become the ish as far as Eastern big men go), maybe they just might take a game in a serioes.
- Atlanta Hawks – Too many self-proclaimed jacks of all trades to get rid of down the line. Billy King cornered the market on combo guards, I guess. I do think Acie Law is the answer for them at point guard.
- Charlotte Bobcats – Raymond Felton isn’t an NBA point guard to me, and while gaining with acquiring Jason Richardson was a good step, it’ s not going to get them out of the cellar yet.
Photo: AP/Steven Senne