Two months later than usual, and after an expedited preseason, the NBA is set to tip off Tuesday night.
Here’s how the league’s hierarchy looks entering the season opener:
A Class of Their Own
1. Los Angeles Lakers
LeBron James, Anthony Davis and a strong offseason? Run it back.
The Threats to a Repeat
2. Milwaukee Bucks
Giannis Antetokounmpo is locked in, but will his supporting cast be enough, even with the addition of point guard Jrue Holiday?
3. Los Angeles Clippers
The talent is there, but the chemistry needs some work.
4. Brooklyn Nets
The Kevin Durant-Kyrie Irving partnership is finally in action.
5. Miami Heat
Trying to prove their NBA Finals appearance was no fluke.
6. Boston Celtics
They’ve been close, but need their young stars to take another step.
7. Denver Nuggets
Back for more after reaching the Western Conference finals.
8. Toronto Raptors
“We The North” takes a detour to Tampa.
9. Philadelphia 76ers
Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons are great. Embiid and James Harden would be game-changing.
10. Dallas Mavericks
The Luka Doncic Show could be even better in Season 3.
11. Golden State Warriors
Can Steph Curry and Draymond Green do it without Klay Thompson?
12. Portland Trail Blazers
Strong offseason could give Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum a shot.
13. Utah Jazz
In case there was any question, this is now Donovan Mitchell’s team.
14. Phoenix Suns
Chris Paul joining Devin Booker and Co. could be fun.
15. Houston Rockets
Russell Westbrook is gone (for John Wall), but Harden could be next.
16. Indiana Pacers
They have a solid nucleus as long as Victor Oladipo stays around.
The Next Generation
17. New Orleans Pelicans
What can they do with a healthy Zion Williamson from the start?
18. Atlanta Hawks
Perhaps the most improved team after an active offseason.
19. Washington Wizards
How will the Westbrook-Bradley Beal backcourt work out?
20. Memphis Grizzlies
Ja Morant is running the show with a year under his belt.
21. San Antonio Spurs
Can Gregg Popovich work his magic on a largely unheralded group?
22. Orlando Magic
Time will tell what kind of a difference-maker rookie guard Cole Anthony can be.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves
No. 1 pick Anthony Edwards needs a nickname to match KAT and DLo.
24. Sacramento Kings
Still rebuilding but a strong backcourt is a good place to start.
25. Charlotte Hornets
The arrival of LaMelo Ball and an Gordon Hayward (though already injured) should be fun.
26. Chicago Bulls
Time to let Billy Donovan go to work with a young roster.
The Lottery Lot
27. Detroit Pistons
Too many big men, not enough rebounds to go around.
28. New York Knicks
Tom Thibodeau wants a star, but the wait continues.
29. Oklahoma City Thunder
Future draft picks mean present struggles.
30. Cleveland Cavaliers
Their rebuild through lottery picks should continue.
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