1. Cleveland Cavaliers
The newest ‘Big 3’ has the talk of titles for the first time ever for the Cavs.
2. Chicago Bulls
Derrick Rose’s return is at the top, but how will the acquisition of Pau Gasol work out?
3. Indiana Pacers
Not that Paul George’s absence will help, but there won’t be as many eyes on them this year.
4. Detroit Pistons
Stan Van Gundy is putting his stamp on this team, but it won’t take full effect until next year.
5. Milwaukee Bucks
Jason Kidd got his wish, but will he enjoy the frequent losing?
Head Coach: David Blatt (Maccabi Tel Aviv – Israel)
Key Position: Power Forward – LeBron is saying this is Kyrie’s team and that’s all good and well. Where does this leave Kevin Love? He still has the option to walk after this season and if Cleveland doesn’t win a title this season who will get the blame? Cavaliers fans won’t jump on LeBron for fear of him leaving again so that means Love will get the attention right or wrong.
Key Rookies: None
Key Acquisitions: F LeBron James (Miami Heat), G Mike Miller (Miami Heat), F Shawn Marion (Dallas Mavericks), F Kevin Love (Minnesota Timberwolves)
Starting Lineup: G Kyrie Irving, G Dion Waiters, F LeBron James, F Kevin Love, C Anderson Varejao
Head Coach: Tom Thibodeau
Key Position: Point Guard – His return has been long awaited and Bulls fans couldn’t be happier. The way this team is currently constructed is to win now. Getting Doug McDermott also plays into the future, but for now they must go all in. Aaron Brooks and Kirk Hinrich will get a lot of playing time behind Rose so as to keep him fresh for a title run.
Key Rookies: F Doug McDermott, F Nikola Mirotic
Key Acquisitions: G Aaron Brooks (Denver Nuggets), F Pau Gasol (Los Angeles Lakers)
Starting Lineup: G Derrick Rose, G Jimmy Butler, F Mike Dunleavy, F Pau Gasol, C Joakim Noah
Head Coach: Frank Vogel
Key Position: Center – Only Roy Hibbert can help himself. This could pretty much be it for him and a few others on this team including Frank Vogel. Even without Paul George, the Pacers are still a solid team. This will be a big test to see if Hibbert can be a go-to-guy in this league or is he just a defensive cog.
Key Rookies: None
Key Acquisitions: G C.J. Miles (Cleveland Cavaliers), G Rodney Stuckey (Detroit Pisons)
Starting Lineup: G George Hill, G C.J. Miles, F Chris Copeland, F David West, C Roy Hibbert
Head Coach: Stan Van Gundy (Orlando Magic – 2012)
Key Position: Small Forward – The most likely scenario has Greg Monroe walking after the season and Josh Smith being the power forward. Another could be the Pistons trading away Josh Smith during the season and committing to Monroe. However it plays out it won’t stay this way in Stan Van Gundy’s system. He wants to surround the court with shooters and that includes the power forward position. This will be a crucial year for Smith in Detroit.
Key Rookies: G Spencer Dinwiddie
Key Acquisitions: G D.J. Augustin (Chicago Bulls), F Caron Butler (Oklahoma City Thunder), G Jodie Meeks (Los Angeles Lakers)
Starting Lineup: G Brandon Jennings, G Jodie Meeks, F Josh Smith, F Greg Monroe, C Andre Drummond
Head Coach: Jason Kidd (Brooklyn Nets)
Key Position: Center – After being rewarded with a big extension before last season Larry Sanders squandered the year with off the court issues and an injury to his thumb. Milwaukee is stuck with paying him regardless, but they need to get something out of him while he’s here. If he’s close to his 2012-13 season the Bucks will be happy.
Key Rookies: F Jabari Parker
Key Acquisitions: G Jerryd Bayless (Boston Celtics), G Kendall Marshall (Los Angeles Lakers), F Jared Dudley (Los Angeles Clippers)
Starting Lineup: G Brandon Knight, G Giannis Antetokounmpo, F Khris Middleton, F Jabari Parker, C Larry Sanders