1. L.A. Lakers: As long as LeBron James and Anthony Davis are healthy for the playoffs, the Lakers will be the team to beat.

2. Phoenix: All the key pieces are back from a team that came just a few games away from winning a title and are out to prove their run wasn't a fluke.

3. Utah: Utah still has a bit to go before it can challenge for a spot in the Finals, but it should earn a high seed thanks to Rudy Gobert and Donovan Mitchell. Other teams have question marks.

4. Denver: The biggest question is whether Jamal Murray will return from his ACL injury and play well enough to lift the Nuggets' chances?

5. Clippers: Similar to Denver, will Kawhi Leonard return from his knee injury in time and return to form to give the Clippers a shot of winning a title?

6. Dallas: Jason Kidd is in as coach as the Mavericks try to figure out a way to crack the upper echelon of the Western Conference with Luka Doncic and Kristaps Porzingis. It might be too crowded.

7. Golden State: If Klay Thompson can return to form, the Warriors might contend for a title again. But that's a big if after injuries cost Thompson the past two seasons.

8. Portland: It's hard to see how Portland gets significantly better to keep Damian Lillard happy and prevents him from asking for a trade after this season.

9. Memphis: Made the play-in last season and figures to be right around that area again this year with Ja Morant entering year three.

10. Timberwolves: As long as Karl-Anthony Towns can stay relatively healthy, the Wolves should be better than the teams below them on this list.

11. Sacramento: Davion Mitchell is an intriguing rookie presence who can help bolster the Kings' defense, which can use all the help it can get.

12. New Orleans: It feels like Zion Williamson's trajectory could end up like Anthony Davis'. When Williamson is healthy enough to play, it doesn't feel like the Pelicans will have much.

13. San Antonio: Is undertaking a rebuild under Gregg Popovich after unloading DeMar DeRozan. Without DeRozan, will a young core with Keldon Johnson and Dejounte Murray flourish?

14. Houston: No. 2 pick Jalen Green will be the talk of the Rockets' season while John Wall and Eric Gordon will try to keep them winning enough games to not get too frustrated.

15. Oklahoma City: The long rebuild continues as the plan in Oklahoma City is to acquire assets and develop young talent around Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. Lots of losses are ahead.


1. Brooklyn: Even if they play without Kyrie Irving, the Nets can be unstoppable as long as both Kevin Durant and James Harden are fully healthy in the playoffs.

2. Milwaukee: If a defending champion can fly under the radar in the preseason, the Bucks accomplished that. All pieces are in place to contend again.

3. Miami: The addition of Kyle Lowry could turn out to be the most influential offseason move for any team.

4. Philadelphia: The Ben Simmons saga will drag on, but the 76ers are determined and structured to keep contending, even if they trade Simmons.

5. Boston: Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum provide a steady, potent core, even as there is a lot of change around them, including new coach Ime Udoka.

6. Atlanta: The Hawks surprised everyone a year ago and bring back almost everyone. Can they build off an improbable playoff run or were they a one-hit wonder?

7. Chicago: Have dramatically remade their roster with Lonzo Ball, DeMar DeRozan and trading for Nikola Vucevic last season. They will need these pieces to fit.

8. New York: The defense will be there during the regular season, but when the intensity increases in the playoffs, will the Knicks have enough offensive firepower?

9. Charlotte: It's hard to see the Hornets taking a major leap from a season ago unless LaMelo Ball takes another major leap forward.

10. Toronto: The Raptors enter an uncertain period without Lowry, one of the franchise's all-time top players. Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet can still help them compete.

11. Indiana: Caris Levert (back) is still out, though Rick Carlisle has some nice pieces to work with in Malcolm Brogdon and Damontas Sabonis in his second stint with the Pacers.

12. Washington: Bradley Beal is back, but Russell Westbrook is gone, replaced by a slew of veterans like Kyle Kuzma, Spencer Dinwiddie, Montrezl Harrell and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope.

13. Orlando: Traded away Vucevic and Aaron Gordon at the deadline last season, and are rebuilding after taking Minnehaha Academy's Jalen Suggs with the No. 5 pick.

14. Cleveland: Collin Sexton and Darius Garland could be the start of something for the Cavaliers, but there is a long way to go.

15. Detroit: The Pistons are all about Cade Cunningham, the No. 1 pick in the draft, and have a long way to go before they're contending again.