|NBA 2008-09: Team-by-team capsules|
|Written by Admin|
|Friday, 17 October 2008 12:21|
LAST SEASON: 66-16, won NBA championship.
STARTING FIVE: G Rajon Rondo (10.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 5.1 apg), G Ray Allen (17.4 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 3.1 apg), F Paul Pierce (19.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 4.5 apg), F Kevin Garnett (18.8 ppg, 9.2 rpg, 3.4 apg), C Kendrick Perkins (7.0 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 1.5 bpg).
KEY ADDITIONS: F Darius Miles (free agent, Trail Blazers); F Bill Walker (trade, Wizards).
KEY LOSSES: F James Posey (free agent, Hornets), F P.J. Brown (not re-signed).
COACH: Doc Rivers, fifth season with Celtics, 10th season overall; 339-328.
EYES ON: Tony Allen. Mostly counted on for his defense last season, he provided the Celtics with a boost on the offensive end in the preseason. With Posey gone, Allen could be the most reliable reserve Boston has.
of Posey weakens the bench, an area that may need to be addressed at some point to make a repeat possible.
LAST SEASON: 40-42, lost to Detroit 4-2 in first round of playoffs.
STARTING FIVE: G Andre Miller (17.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 6.9 apg), G Andre Iguodala (19.9 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 4.8 apg), F Thaddeus Young (8.2 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 0.8 apg), F Elton Brand (17.6 ppg, 8.0 rpg, 1.9 bpg), C Samuel Dalembert (10.5 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 2.3 bpg).
KEY ADDITIONS: F Brand (free agent, Clippers), F Donyell Marshall (free agent, Thunder), C Theo Ratliff (free agent, Pistons), G Royal Ivey (free agent, Bucks).
KEY LOSSES: F Rodney Carney (trade, Timberwolves).
COACH: Maurice Cheeks, fourth season with 76ers; eighth season overall, 275-272.
EYES ON: Brand. His jump from the Clippers to Philadelphia has the 76ers being mentioned as a potential sleeper team. Demanding Philly fans will expect plenty from Brand right away, but he only played eight games last season after tearing his Achilles' and now has to learn a new system.
OUTLOOK: Consistently play as hard as any team in the league, and that was good enough to rebound from a dismal start last season and earn a playoff spot. The addition of Brand addresses their biggest weakness, and if they can shoot from the outside, the 76ers could make a big jump up the East standings.
do Magic 4-1 in first round of playoffs.
STARTING FIVE: G Jose Calderon (11.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 8.3 apg), G Anthony Parker (12.5 ppg, 4.1 rpg, 2.2 apg), F Jamario Moon (8.5 ppg, 6.2 rpg, 1.2 apg), F Chris Bosh (22.3 ppg, 8.7 rpg, 2.6 apg), C Jermaine O'Neal (13.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 2.1 bpg).
KEY ADDITIONS: C O'Neal (trade, Pacers).
KEY LOSSES: G T.J. Ford (trade, Pacers); C Rasho Nesterovic (trade, Pacers); G Carlos Delfino (free agent, Europe) G Juan Dixon (free agent, Wizards); F Jorge Garbajosa (waived).
COACH: Sam Mitchell, fifth season, 148-180.
EYES ON: O'Neal. Once an All-Star regular and one of the league's top big men, he's missed significant time the last four seasons, playing as many as 60 games only once. Raptors don't need him to dominate like he used to, but need him to stay on the court more than he did during final seasons in Indiana.
OUTLOOK: If the Bosh-O'Neal pairing works, the Raptors have an interior tandem that few teams can match. If not, the Raptors better hope their 3-pointers are falling to carry what doesn't appear to be a strong defensive club.
NEW YORK KNICKS:
LAST SEASON: 23-59, missed playoffs.
STARTING FIVE: G Chris Duhon (5.8 ppg, 1.8 rpg, 4.0 apg), G Jamal Crawford (20.6 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 5.0 apg), F Quentin Richardson (8.1 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 1.8 apg), F Zach Randolph (17.6 ppg, 10.3 rpg, 2.0 apg), C David Lee (10.8 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 1.2 apg).
DITIONS: G Duhon (free agent, Bulls); F Danilo Gallinari (draft, No. 6).
KEY LOSSES: None.
COACH: Mike D'Antoni, first season with Knicks; seventh season overall, 267-172.
EYES ON: Duhon. Knicks made him their free agent priority and quickly handed him the starting point guard job, even with his meager statistics and the presence of Stephon Marbury, who's a better player. Now he has to prove he can handle running D'Antoni's offense.
OUTLOOK: Knicks will be a more professional organization under D'Antoni, but they probably don't have the personnel yet to play his system and win. But after last season's embarrassing performance on and off the court under Isiah Thomas, New York fans will likely settle for any improvement.
NEW JERSEY NETS:
LAST SEASON: 34-48, missed playoffs.
STARTING FIVE: G Devin Harris (14.8 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 5.8 apg), G Vince Carter (21.3 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 5.1 apg), F Jarvis Hayes (6.7 ppg, 2.2 rpg, 0.8 apg), F Yi Jianlian (8.6 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 0.8 apg), C Josh Boone (8.2 ppg, 7.3 rpg, 0.8 apg).
KEY ADDITIONS: F Yi (trade, Bucks), F Bobby Simmons (trade, Bucks), F Hayes (free agent, Pistons), G Keyon Dooling (trade, Magic), F Eduardo Najera (free agent, Nuggets), C Brook Lopez (draft, No. 10), G Chris Douglas-Roberts (draft, No. 40).
cus Williams (trade, Warriors).
COACH: Lawrence Frank, sixth season, 191-177.
EYES ON: Carter. With most of their other veterans gone, Nets will need Carter to lead a young team. His effort dropped when things went bad in Toronto, and skeptics will be watching to see if it does again now.
OUTLOOK: Nets enter a season without realistic playoff hopes for the first time in years. Recent cost-cutting moves could leave them set up well for the future, so best that could happen for now could be the continued development of young players like Harris and Yi.
LAST SEASON: 52-30, lost to Detroit 4-1 in Eastern Conference semifinals.
STARTING FIVE: G Jameer Nelson (10.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 5.6 apg), G Mickael Pietrus (7.2 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 0.7 apg), F Hedo Turkoglu (19.5 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 5.0 apg), F Rashard Lewis (18.2 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 2.4 apg), Dwight Howard (20.7 ppg, 14.2 rpg, 2.2 bpg).
KEY ADDITIONS: G Pietrus (free agent, Warriors); G Anthony Johnson (free agent, Kings).
KEY LOSSES: G Maurice Evans (free agent, Hawks); G Carlos Arroyo (free agent, Europe), G Keyon Dooling (trade, Nets), F Pat Garrity (retired).
COACH: Stan Van Gundy, second season with Magic, fifth season overall; 164-103.
ness in recent years for the Magic.
OUTLOOK: With Howard developing into the best center in the East - maybe the NBA - and plenty of excellent perimeter shooters surrounding him, Magic have all the firepower they need to repeat as champions in a weak division.
LAST SEASON: 43-39, lost to Cleveland 4-2 in first round of playoffs.
STARTING FIVE: G Antonio Daniels (8.4 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 4.8 apg), G DeShawn Stevenson (11.2 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 3.1 apg), F Caron Butler (20.3 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 4.9 apg), F Antawn Jamison (21.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 1.5 apg), C Etan Thomas (out last season).
KEY ADDITIONS: F JaVale McGee (draft, No. 18); G Juan Dixon (free agent, Raptors), G Dee Brown (free agent, Jazz).
KEY LOSSES: G Roger Mason (free agent, Spurs)
COACH: Eddie Jordan, sixth season with Wizards, eighth season overall; 229-278.
EYES ON: Thomas. After sitting out all last season following open-heart surgery, Wizards will need him to be productive right away with starting center Brendan Haywood, coming off the best season of his career, expected to miss at least four months because of wrist surgery.
can hang on until Arenas and Haywood get back.
LAST SEASON: 15-67, missed playoffs.
STARTING FIVE: G Chris Quinn (7.8 ppg, 2.0 rpg, 3.0 apg), G Dwyane Wade (24.6 ppg, 4.2 rpg, 6.9 apg), F Shawn Marion (15.4 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 2.2 apg, 2.0 spg), F Udonis Haslem (12.0 ppg, 9.0 rpg, 1.4 apg), C Mark Blount (8.4 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 0.6 apg).
KEY ADDITIONS: F Michael Beasley (draft, No. 2), G Shaun Livingston (free agent, Clippers), G Mario Chalmers (draft, No. 34), F James Jones (free agent, Trail Blazers); C Jamaal Magloire (free agent, Mavericks).
KEY LOSSES: F Ricky Davis (free agent, Clippers), F Jason Williams (retired).
COACH: Erik Spoelstra, first season.
EYES ON: Wade. Hasn't been able to stay healthy since leading the Heat to the 2006 NBA championship, but he is now and he's never looked better than he did over the summer while helping the U.S. Olympic team win the gold medal in Beijing. If his body lets him, Wade could be an MVP candidate this season.
OUTLOOK: Heat have a chance to be the NBA's most improved team - mostly because they fell so far last season. Wade is spectacular, Haslem is steady, and if Marion and Michael Beasley put up the numbers they're capable of, Miami could make Spoelstra a winner in his rookie season. Jones and Magloire each sustained preseason injuries.
ound of playoffs.
STARTING FIVE: G Mike Bibby (13.9 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 6.0 apg), G Joe Johnson (21.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 5.8 apg), F Marvin Williams (14.8 ppg, 5.7 rpg, 1.7 apg), F Josh Smith (17.2 ppg, 8.2 rpg, 2.8 bpg, 1.5 spg), C Al Horford (10.1 ppg, 9.7 rpg, 1.5 apg).
KEY ADDITIONS: G-F Maurice Evans (free agent, Magic); G Flip Murray (free agent, Pacers).
KEY LOSSES: F Josh Childress (free agent, Europe).
COACH: Mike Woodson, fifth season, 106-222.
EYES ON: Williams. Finally started to show last season why Hawks took him with the No. 2 pick in the 2005 draft - immediately before Deron Williams and Chris Paul - but there's still the feeling that he could do much more. And the Hawks might need him to, since they lost Childress, their top backup.
OUTLOOK: After the way they challenged the eventual NBA champion Celtics in the playoffs, there's no doubt the Hawks have the talent and potential to be a playoff team. Now they need to show it over the course of an entire season.
LAST SEASON: 32-50, missed playoffs.
STARTING FIVE: G Raymond Felton (14.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 7.4 apg), G Jason Richardson (21.8 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 3.2 apg), F Gerald Wallace (19.4 ppg, 6.0 rpg, 3.5 apg, 2.1 spg), F Sean May (missed last season), F Emeka Okafor (13.8 ppg, 10.7 rpg, 1.7 bpg).
KEY ADDITIONS: G D.J. Augustin (draft, No. 9).
KEY LOSSES: None.
season with Bobcats, 24th overall, 1,010-800.
EYES ON: Brown. Following ugly stints with the 2004 Olympic team and 2005-06 Knicks, it's fair to wonder if Brown is still the right guy to deal with today's NBA players. But Michael Jordan still believes, and Brown would love to show that the 23-59 debacle in New York wasn't a true indication of his abilities.
OUTLOOK: Bobcats believe they've addressed their biggest need, going for Brown's coaching experience after taking a shot last season with a first-year coach in Sam Vincent. They've been losing money and fans in Charlotte and the only hope to stop that is a good season. There's enough talent to give the Bobcats hope of that.
LAST SEASON: 59-23, lost to Boston 4-2 in Eastern Conference finals.
STARTING FIVE: G Chauncey Billups (17.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 6.8 apg), G Richard Hamilton (17.3 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.2 apg), F Tayshaun Prince (13.2 ppg, 4.9 rpg, 3.3 apg), F Rasheed Wallace (12.7 ppg, 6.6 rpg, 1.7 bpg), C Amir Johnson (3.6 ppg, 3.8 rpg, 1.3 bpg).
KEY ADDITIONS: C Kwame Brown (free agent, Grizzlies).
KEY LOSSES: C Theo Ratliff (free agent, 76ers), F Jarvis Hayes (free agent, Nets), G Lindsey Hunter (not re-signed).
COACH: Michael Curry, first season.
he made. Curry inherits one of the NBA's best teams, but has to show that a first-year coach can motivate the Pistons to consistently keep their foot on the gas - which Saunders never could do.
OUTLOOK: As much as Dumars wanted to do something to shake up his team, he wisely realized the Pistons are too good to change just for the sake of change. With Boston now clearly on top in the East, perhaps Detroit will be hungrier in the role of hunter instead of hunted.
LAST SEASON: 45-37, lost to Boston Celtics 4-3 in Eastern Conference semifinals.
STARTING FIVE: G Mo Williams (17.2 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 6.3 apg), G Sasha Pavlovic (7.4 ppg, 2.5 rpg, 1.6 apg), F LeBron James (30.0 ppg, 7.9 rpg, 7.2 apg), F Ben Wallace (4.8 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 1.6 bpg), C Zydrunas Ilgauskas (14.1 ppg, 9.3 rpg, 1.6 bpg).
KEY ADDITIONS: G Williams (trade, Bucks); F J.J. Hickson (draft, No. 19).
KEY LOSSES: F Joe Smith (trade, Thunder), G Damon Jones (free agent, Bucks).
COACH: Mike Brown, fourth season; 145-101.
EYES ON: Williams. Cleveland has been seeking reliable help for James for years, and in Williams the Cavs made have found the best guard their superstar has ever had as a teammate in the NBA.
Williams is as good as the Cavs expect, another matchup with Boston could come this season in the East finals.
LAST SEASON: 33-49, missed playoffs.
STARTING FIVE: G Derrick Rose (rookie), G Kirk Hinrich (11.5 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 6.0 apg), F Luol Deng (17.0 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 2.5 apg), F Tyrus Thomas (6.8 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.2 apg), C Drew Gooden (12.0 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 1.2 apg).
KEY ADDITIONS: G Rose (draft, No. 1)
KEY LOSSES: G Chris Duhon (free agent, Knicks)
COACH: Vinny Del Negro, first season.
EYES ON: Ben Gordon. After failing to work out an extension with the Bulls, Gordon accepted a one-year qualifying offer for $6.4 million and will become an unrestricted free agent next summer. The Bulls' leading scorer the last three seasons has until then to show the Bulls - or another team - that he's worth a long-term deal at that point.
OUTLOOK: The NBA's biggest disappointment last season, when the Bulls were considered a favorite to win the Eastern Conference and instead never challenged for a playoff spot. They appear to still have the offensive problems that plagued them, even after lucking out in the draft lottery and earning the right to pick Rose.
LAST SEASON: 26-56, missed playoffs.
F Charlie Villanueva (11.7 ppg, 6.1 rpg; 1.0 apg), C Andrew Bogut (14.4 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 2.6 apg).
KEY ADDITIONS: F Jefferson (trade, Nets), G Ridnour (trade, Thunder), F Joe Alexander (draft, No. 8), G Tyronn Lue (free agent, Mavericks), F Francisco Elson (free agent, Thunder).
KEY LOSSES: G Mo Williams (trade, Cavaliers), F Yi Jianlian (trade, Nets), F Desmond Mason (trade, Thunder), F Bobby Simmons (trade, Nets).
COACH: Scott Skiles, first season with Bucks, 10th season overall; 281-251.
EYES ON: Ridnour. Once so highly regarded that he was chosen to the original U.S. national team in 2006, Ridnour's scoring average was nearly cut in half last season in a reserve role for Seattle. Bucks have enough scorers that he mostly just needs to be a distributor.
OUTLOOK: Bucks will have no problem scoring, but won't become a playoff contender again until they become a good defensive team. With Skiles as the coach, they should start making progress toward that this season.
LAST SEASON: 36-46, missed playoffs.
STARTING FIVE: G T.J. Ford (12.1 ppg, 6.1 apg, 1.1 spg), G Danny Granger (19.6 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 2.1 apg), Mike Dunleavy (19.1 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 3.5 apg), F Troy Murphy (12.2 ppg, 7.2 rpg, 2.2 apg), C Rasho Nesterovic (7.8 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 1.2 apg).
Rush (trade, Trail Blazers), C Roy Hibbert (trade, Raptors).
KEY LOSSES: F Jermaine O'Neal (trade, Raptors); F Shawne Williams (trade, Mavericks); G Flip Murray (free agent, Hawks).
COACH: Jim O'Brien, second season with Pacers, seventh overall; 218-204.
EYES ON: Ford. Two of his four NBA seasons have been cut short by injuries, and he was limited to a career-low 51 games and lost his starting spot last season in Toronto. Questions about his durability will linger because of size and injury history, but he's a great pickup for the Pacers if he stays healthy.
OUTLOOK: Even with injuries and more off-the-court troubles last season, Pacers still nearly rallied to make the playoffs in the East. If Ford stays healthy and their trades work out, Indiana could get back into the postseason hunt.
LAST SEASON: 55-27, lost to Utah 4-2 in first round of playoffs.
STARTING FIVE: G Rafer Alston (13.1 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 5.3 apg), G Tracy McGrady (21.6 ppg, 5.1 rpg, 5.9 apg), F Ron Artest (20.5 ppg, 5.8 rpg, 3.5 apg, 2.3 spg), Luis Scola (10.3 ppg, 6.4 rpg, 1.3 apg), C Yao Ming (22.0 ppg, 10.8 rpg, 2.0 bpg).
KEY ADDITIONS: F Artest (trade, Kings); G Brent Barry (free agent, Spurs).
KEY LOSSES: G Bobby Jackson (trade, Kings).
COACH: Rick Adelman, second season with Rockets, 18th overall; 807-508.
EYES ON: Yao. Limited by injuries to 57, 48 and 55 games the last three seasons. Rushed through rehab to return and play well for China in the Olympics, but the Rockets likely will try to control their franchise center's minutes as much as they can.
OUTLOOK: The Artest trade gives McGrady the best chance he's ever had to advance in the playoffs. However, that assumes the Rockets stay healthy, and that's been a problem for this team. McGrady already warned that he's still got nagging injuries, and Shane Battier began the preseason on the bench.
NEW ORLEANS HORNETS:
LAST SEASON: 56-26, lost to San Antonio 4-3 in Western Conference semifinals.
STARTING FIVE: G Chris Paul (21.1 ppg, 4.0 rpg, 11.6 apg, 2.7 spg), G Morris Peterson (8.0 ppg, 2.7 rpg, 0.9 apg), F Peja Stojakovic (16.4 ppg, 4.3 rpg, 1.3 apg), F David West (20.6 ppg, 8.9 rpg, 2.3 apg), C Tyson Chandler (11.8 ppg, 11.8 rpg, 1.1 bpg).
KEY ADDITIONS: F James Posey (free agent, Celtics), G Devin Brown (free agent, Cavaliers).
KEY LOSSES: G Jannero Pargo (free agent, Europe), G/F Bonzi Wells (not re-signed).
COACH: Byron Scott, fifth season with Hornets, ninth overall; 300-316.
EYES ON: Stojakovic. Avoided injuries to play in 77 games last season, his best total since 2003-04. Hornets need their top perimeter shooter on the floor to stretch defenses and give Paul room to penetrate or find Chandler and West down low.
OUTLOOK: Key players stayed healthy last season, Hornets finally developed a home-court advantage in New Orleans, and the result was the best success in team history. Then added a proven winner in Posey, and they have hopes of helping him win his third ring in four years.
SAN ANTONIO SPURS:
LAST SEASON: 56-26, lost to Los Angeles Lakers 4-1 in Western Conference finals.
STARTING FIVE: G Tony Parker (18.8 ppg, 3.2 rpg, 6.0 apg), G Michael Finley (10.1 ppg, 3.1 rpg, 1.4 apg), F Bruce Bowen (6.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.1 apg), F Tim Duncan (19.3 ppg, 11.3 rpg, 2.8 apg), C Fabricio Oberto (4.8 ppg, 5.2 rpg, 1.2 apg).
KEY ADDITIONS: G Roger Mason (free agent, Wizards), G Salim Stoudamire (free agent, Hawks).
KEY LOSSES: G Brent Barry (free agent, Rockets), F Robert Horry (not re-signed).
COACH: Gregg Popovich, 13th season; 632-302.
EYES ON: Bowen. Critics keep expecting the Spurs to start showing their age, and Bowen would be a likely candidate if that happens, since he's 37, missed only one game over the last six seasons, and is called upon to defend the opponent's top offensive player.
ry, also wouldn't come as a shock if they slipped to the lower half of their loaded division.
LAST SEASON: 51-31, lost to New Orleans 4-1 in first round.
STARTING FIVE: G Jason Kidd (10.8 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 10.1 apg), G Antoine Wright (6.3 ppg, 2.6 rpg, 1.4 apg), F Josh Howard (19.9 ppg, 7.0 rpg, 2.2 apg), F Dirk Nowitzki (23.6 ppg, 8.6 rpg, 3.5 apg), C Erick Dampier (6.1 ppg, 7.5 rpg, 1.5 bpg).
KEY ADDITIONS: C DeSagana Diop (free agent, Nets), F Shawne Williams (trade, Pacers).
KEY LOSSES: G Eddie Jones (trade, Pacers).
COACH: Rick Carlisle, first season with Mavericks, seventh season overall; 281-211.
EYES ON: Howard. Has found himself in enough off-the-court situations that fans could turn on him if his level of play slips. Luckily for Howard, that shouldn't be a problem, since some people consider him, and not Nowitzki, the Mavericks' most talented player.
OUTLOOK: The Kidd trade didn't work for the Mavs, ending in another brief playoff appearance. But with a whole season for the point guard to learn how to get the most out of the players around him, Dallas hopes to return toward the top of the West standings.
LAST SEASON: 22-60, missed playoffs.
c Gasol (rookie).
KEY ADDITIONS: G Mayo (trade, Timberwolves), G Marko Jaric (trade, Timberwolves), F Antoine Walker (trade, Timberwolves), F Quinton Ross (free agent, Clippers), F-C Gasol (trade, Lakers).
KEY LOSSES: G Mike Miller (trade, Timberwolves), G Juan Carlos Navarro (free agent, Europe).
COACH: Marc Iavaroni, second season, 22-60.
EYES ON: Gasol. Though not as talented as older brother Pau, whom the Grizzlies traded to the Lakers to obtain Marc's rights, Marc Gasol has gotten himself into good shape and played well alongside his sibling for Spain in the Olympics.
OUTLOOK: Plenty to be excited about in Memphis, including the star potential for Mayo and Gay. But that's all for later on. For now, the Grizzlies are a young team playing in the toughest division in the league, and that means lots of losses.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS:
LAST SEASON: 57-25, lost to Boston 4-2 in NBA finals.
STARTING FIVE: G Derek Fisher (11.7 ppg, 2.1 rpg, 2.9 apg), G Kobe Bryant (28.3 ppg, 6.3 rpg, 5.4 apg), F Lamar Odom (14.2 ppg, 10.6 rpg, 3.6 apg), F Pau Gasol (18.9 ppg, 8.4 rpg, 3.2 apg), C Andrew Bynum (13.1 ppg, 10.2 rpg, 2.1 bpg).
KEY ADDITIONS: None.
KEY LOSSES: F Ronny Turiaf (free agent, Warriors).
COACH: Phil Jackson, fourth season of second stint with Lakers, 18th season overall; 976-418.
t had him on the brink of becoming one of the league's dominant centers before his season-ending knee injury, and the Lakers need him to pick up where he left off. Los Angeles showed how badly it missed his interior toughness in its loss to the Celtics in the NBA finals.
OUTLOOK: They've got the best guard in the game in Bryant, so the key to the Lakers' hopes of getting back to the finals is their frontcourt. Bynum has to show he's all the way back, he and Gasol have to demonstrate they can play together, and Odom has to adjust to playing away from the basket. All that happens, and this team is again the best in the West.
LAST SEASON: 55-27, lost to San Antonio 4-1 in first round of playoffs.
STARTING FIVE: G Steve Nash (16.9 ppg, 3.5 rpg, 11.1 apg), G Raja Bell (11.9 ppg, 3.7 rpg, 2.2 apg), F Grant Hill (13.1 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 2.9 apg), F Amare Stoudemire (25.2 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 2.1 bpg), C Shaquille O'Neal (13.6 ppg, 9.1 rpg, 1.4 bpg).
KEY ADDITIONS: F Matt Barnes (free agent, Warriors); C Robin Lopez (draft, No. 15).
KEY LOSSES: F Brian Skinner (free agent, Clippers).
COACH: Terry Porter, first season with Suns, third season overall; 71-93.
OUTLOOK: They won't be as entertaining as they were under D'Antoni, and with a lineup filled with players whose best days seem behind them, they won't be as good, either.
GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS:
LAST SEASON: 48-34, missed playoffs.
STARTING FIVE: G C.J. Watson (3.7 ppg, 1.0 rpg, 1.1 apg)/Monta Ellis (20.2 ppg, 5.0 rpg, 3.9 apg), G Corey Maggette (22.1 ppg, 5.6 rpg, 2.7 apg), F Stephen Jackson (20.1 ppg, 4.4 rpg, 4.1 apg), Al Harrington (13.6 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 1.6 apg), C Andris Biedrins (10.5 ppg, 9.8 rpg, 1.2 bpg).
KEY ADDITIONS: G Maggette (free agent, Clippers), F Ronny Turiaf (free agent, Lakers), F Anthony Randolph (draft, No. 14), G Marcus Williams (trade, Nets.)
KEY LOSSES: G Baron Davis (free agent, Clippers); F Mickael Pietrus (free agent, Magic); F Matt Barnes (free agent, Suns).
COACH: Don Nelson, third season of second stint with Warriors, 30th season overall; 1,280-954.
EYES ON: Maggette. An explosive scorer who was often overlooked playing with the Clippers, the swingman could put up huge offensive numbers playing for Nelson.
OUTLOOK: Essentially lost two point guards over the summer, with Davis leaving for the Clippers and Ellis sidelining himself for perhaps a couple of months with his injury in a moped accident. Until he gets back - and proves he hasn't lost much of his speed - up to Maggette and Jackson to keep the Warriors' offense rolling.
LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS:
LAST SEASON: 23-59, missed playoffs.
STARTING FIVE: G Baron Davis (21.8 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 7.6 apg), G Cuttino Mobley (12.8 ppg, 3.6 rpg, 2.6 apg), F Al Thornton (12.7 ppg, 4.5 rpg, 1.2 apg), F Marcus Camby (9.1 ppg, 13.1 rpg, 3.6 bpg), C Chris Kaman (15.7 ppg, 12.7 rpg, 2.8 bpg).
KEY ADDITIONS: G Davis (free agent, Warriors), F Camby (trade, Nuggets), G/F Ricky Davis (free agent, Heat), G Eric Gordon (draft, No. 7),
KEY LOSSES: F Elton Brand (free agent, 76ers), G/F Corey Maggette (free agent, Warriors), G Jason Williams (retired).
COACH: Mike Dunleavy, sixth season with Clippers, 16th season overall; 573-625.
EYES ON: Kaman. Followed a disappointing 2006-07 campaign in which he clearly took a step backward by rebounding for the best season of his career last season. Now needs to show he is over the hump and can play at that level consistently.
OUTLOOK: No question the Clippers were busy over the summer, but difficult to tell if they got back more than they lost in Brand and Maggette. Baron Davis improves the offense and Camby bolsters the defense, but both have injury histories, a familiar problem for the Clippers lately.
LAST SEASON: 38-44, missed playoffs.
ppg, 6.0 rpg, 1.0 apg), C Brad Miller (13.4 ppg, 9.5 rpg, 3.7 apg).
KEY ADDITIONS: G Bobby Jackson (trade, Rockets), F Jason Thompson (draft, No. 12), G Bobby Brown (free agent, Europe).
KEY LOSSES: F Ron Artest (trade, Rockets).
COACH: Reggie Theus, second season, 38-44.
EYES ON: Martin. Another season like the shooting guard had last season would warrant All-Star consideration, but lack of attention on the Kings, combined with the likelihood that they'll struggle, will probably cost him any real shot in the West.
OUTLOOK: A team that played hard under Theus might have been a factor in the West playoff race last season if it was healthy. But after trading Artest so soon after dealing Mike Bibby, Kings are left with a pretty weak lineup beyond Martin.
LAST SEASON: 54-28, lost to Los Angeles Lakers 4-2 in second round of playoffs.
STARTING FIVE: G Deron Williams (18.8 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 10.5 apg), G Ronnie Brewer (12.0 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 1.8 apg), F C.J. Miles (5.0 ppg, 1.3 rpg, 0.9 apg), F Carlos Boozer (21.1 ppg, 10.4 rpg, 2.9 apg), C Mehmet Okur (14.5 ppg, 7.7 rpg, 2.0 apg).
KEY ADDITIONS: G Brevin Knight (trade, Clippers).
KEY LOSSES: G Jason Hart (trade, Clippers).
COACH: Jerry Sloan, 21st season with Jazz, 24th season overall; 1,089-717.
by having the stronger 2006-07 season. Paul now has the upper hand again in their friendly rivalry after his runner-up MVP finish last season, so now it's Williams turn to answer again.
OUTLOOK: With two Olympians in Williams and Boozer, a deep bench and one of the league's best home-court advantages, Jazz seem set up for a deep playoff run. Must show they can win on the road after inexcusable 17-24 mark last season.
LAST SEASON: 50-32, lost to Los Angeles Lakers 4-0 in first round of playoffs.
STARTING FIVE: G Anthony Carter (7.8 ppg, 2.9 rpg, 5.5 apg), G Allen Iverson (26.4 ppg, 3.0 rpg, 7.2 apg, 2.0 spg), F Carmelo Anthony (25.7 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 3.4 apg), F Kenyon Martin (12.4 ppg, 6.5 rpg, 1.2 bpg), C Nene (5.3 ppg, 5.4 rpg, 0.9 bpg).
KEY ADDITIONS: F Chris Andersen (free agent, Hornets).
KEY LOSSES: C Marcus Camby (trade, Clippers), F Eduardo Najera (free agent, Nets).
COACH: George Karl, fifth season with Nuggets, 21st season overall; 879-614.
EYES ON: Anthony. Known as a scorer who does little else, Anthony is now the Nuggets' leading returning rebounder. With Camby and Najera gone, and Martin and Nene injury-prone, Nuggets need 'Melo to continue showing commitment to rebounding.
Will need plenty of scoring from Anthony and Iverson - whose names will pop up in trade rumors if the Nuggets struggle - to keep pace in the West.
PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS:
LAST SEASON: 41-41, missed playoffs.
STARTING FIVE: G Steve Blake (8.5 ppg, 2.4 rpg, 5.1 apg), G Brandon Roy (19.1 ppg, 4.7 rpg, 5.8 apg), F Travis Outlaw (13.3 ppg, 4.6 rpg, 1.3 apg), F LaMarcus Aldridge (17.8 ppg, 7.6 rpg, 1.2 bpg), C Greg Oden (rookie).
KEY ADDITIONS: C Oden (injured all last season), G Rudy Fernandez (trade, Suns), G Jerryd Bayless (trade, Pacers), F Ike Diogu (trade, Pacers), G-F Nicolas Batum (trade, Rockets).
KEY LOSSES: G Jarrett Jack (trade, Pacers), F James Jones (free agent, Heat).
COACH: Nate McMillan, fourth season with Blazers, ninth season overall; 306-335.
EYES ON: Oden. Blazers get to add a potential franchise big man who has a year of being around the NBA under his belt. And since he's playing alongside an emerging star in Aldridge, Oden won't even be asked to do much beyond shot blocking and rebounding, which are his specialties.
OUTLOOK: Should continue to improve, but the league's longest playoff drought - they haven't made it since 2003-03 - could last another season in the deep West. Still, Blazers will be back in the postseason soon, and with the best young core in the league, it won't be long before they're advancing far in it.
LAST SEASON: 22-60, missed playoffs.
STARTING FIVE: G Randy Foye (13.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 4.2 apg), G Rashad McCants (14.9 ppg, 2.8 rpg, 2.2 apg), F Mike Miller (16.4 ppg, 6.7 rpg, 3.4 apg), F Kevin Love (rookie), C Al Jefferson (21.1 ppg, 11.1 rpg, 1.5 bpg).
KEY ADDITIONS: F Love (trade, Grizzlies), F Miller (trade, Grizzlies), F Rodney Carney (trade, 76ers).
KEY LOSSES: G Marko Jaric (trade, Grizzlies), F Antoine Walker (trade, Grizzlies).
COACH: Randy Wittman, third season with Timberwolves, fifth overall; 92-196.
EYES ON: Miller. Plenty of teams would have loved to have him when it was believed the Grizzlies would make him available last season before the trade deadline. His outside shooting, ability to start or come off the bench, and veteran leadership are a big boost to an otherwise young Minnesota team.
OUTLOOK: With good inside-outside balance and an emerging star in Jefferson, the Timberwolves would have hopes of competing for a playoff spot if they played in the East. Instead, they'll have to settle for trying to be competitive against the West powers and continue building for the future.
OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER:
LAST SEASON: 20-62, missed playoffs.
g, 9.4 rpg, 1.5 apg).
KEY ADDITIONS: G Russell Westbrook (draft, No. 4), F Desmond Mason (trade, Bucks), F Joe Smith (trade, Cavaliers)
KEY LOSSES: G Luke Ridnour (trade, Bucks).
COACH: P.J. Carlesimo, second season with Thunder, eighth season overall; 203-284.
EYES ON: The Oklahoma City fans. They supported the Hornets in a big way when they played most of two seasons there following Hurricane Katrina, and now the Thunder will be looking for that same response in their first season after moving from Seattle.
OUTLOOK: Endured a miserable experience last season, losing and dealing with the constant uncertainity about their future in Seattle. The losing will continue, but at least it should come in a friendlier environment.