1. Miami HEAT, 46-20 last season
2. Indiana Pacers, 42-24 last season
3. Boston Celtics, 39-27 last season
4. Chicago Bulls, 50-16 last season
5. Brooklyn Nets, 22-44 last season
6. Atlanta Hawks, 40-26 last season
7. New York Knicks, 36-30 last season
8. Toronto Raptors, 23-43 last season
Key Additions: Kyle Lowry, John Lucas III, Landry Fields
Key Subtractions: Jerryd Bayless, James Johnson, Gary Forbes
Key Draft Additions: Jonas Valanciunas, Terrence Ross
Kyle Lowry won the starting point guard spot in Houston two seasons ago and has since earned a reputation as a tough, fearless guard who can score off the dribble or from deep range while being able to defend his own position without help. Much of the optimism in Toronto revolves around what Lowry brings to the Raptors. Lowry allows Raptors head coach Dwane Casey to move Jose Calderon to the second unit and Lucas finally gives the Raptors a third-string point guard who can start if necessary.
Where Jonas Valanciunas represents the future for Toronto big men and is expected to have a strong rookie campaign, the Raptors will be counting on a healthy Andrea Bargnani to carry much of the scoring load and continue the elevated level of play witnessed prior to his injury last season.
Toronto has evolved into a good defensive unit under Casey, but they will face tough competition for eighth this season and another injury to Bargnani or a point guard controversy between Lowry and Calderon could easily derail the Raptors’ season. However, if this group gels and everything stays together, there will likely be a postseason appearance for Toronto in April.
9. Philadelphia 76ers, 35-31 last season
10. Milwaukee Bucks, 31-35 last season
11. Washington Wizards, 20-46 last season
12. Orlando Magic, 37-29 last season
13. Detroit Pistons, 25-41 last season
14. Cleveland Cavaliers, 21-45 last season
15. Charlotte Bobcats, 7-59 last season