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1. Denver Nuggets

Defending champions will try to repeat with Nikola Jokic and Jamal Murray after losing a key bench player in Bruce Brown.

2. Los Angeles Lakers

Might not be the No. 2 seed during the regular season, but as long as they are healthy in April, they are the second-best team in the West.

3. Phoenix Suns

How will you choose between guarding Bradley Beal, Devin Booker and Kevin Durant, assuming all are still playing in the playoffs?


4. Sacramento Kings

Prognosticators expect the Kings to take a step back, but they might just be getting started with the core of De'Aaron Fox and Domantas Sabonis.

5. Los Angeles Clippers

Their placement comes with an asterisk that Paul George and Kawhi Leonard play enough games to allow the Clippers to reach the No. 5 seed.

6. Minnesota Timberwolves

Anthony Edwards figures only to get better while they should have a better feel for how Rudy Gobert and Karl-Anthony Towns can coexist on court.

7. Golden State Warriors

Draymond Green is injured to start the season and they have one of the oldest cores in the league. Can they hold up?

8. Oklahoma City Thunder

Some think they are bound to make a big leap, but they are still young and Chet Holmgren will be playing his first season of NBA basketball.

9. Memphis Grizzlies

No Ja Morant for the first 25 games (league suspension), and Tyus Jones (traded to the Wizards) is no longer there to help them win games in his absence.

10. Dallas Mavericks

Missed the playoffs last season, and the combination of Luka Doncic and Kyrie Irving makes little sense from a chemistry standpoint.

11. New Orleans Pelicans

They can be so good when Zion Williamson plays, but time has shown that's not always a guarantee.

12. Houston Rockets

There are a lot of interesting pieces there, led by the offseason acquisition of Fred VanVleet, but how quickly can it all come together?

13. San Antonio Spurs

Victor Wembanyama has looked every bit as advertised in the preseason, and perhaps this ranking is too low if he can affect games the way he has so far.

14. Utah Jazz

Last year's "they're tanking but not really" team will try to thread that needle again. But they should be tanking.

15. Portland Trail Blazers

The team that's really tanking, now that Damian Lillard is in Milwaukee. Their future includes a lot of ping-pong ball watching.


1. Milwaukee Bucks

Questions remain about their defense without Jrue Holiday, but Lillard and Giannis Antetokounmpo could be unstoppable offensively.

2. Boston Celtics

Nabbing Holiday in the series of trades ignited by Lillard's desire to exit Portland kept them as contenders for a title.

3. Miami Heat

They might be a lower seed when the season ends, but once the postseason begins, nobody is going to want to see them.

4. Philadelphia 76ers

Currently a mess as they figure out James Harden's exit, which has included him calling General Manager Daryl Morey a liar.

5. New York Knicks

Tom Thibodeau will have them winning games in the regular season, but they lack enough upper-level talent to be a serious contender.

6. Cleveland Cavaliers

Same as the Knicks, who schooled them in the playoffs last year. What happens with Donovan Mitchell after this season?

7. Brooklyn Nets

Mikal Bridges leads a team that still has some talent, despite all the recent roster turnover.

8. Indiana Pacers

With Tyrese Haliburton as their franchise player, expect the Pacers to start to emerge from their yearslong rebuild.

9. Atlanta Hawks

A franchise at a pivot point with guards Trae Young and Dejounte Murray. They Hawks are hoping coach Quin Snyder has the answers to mold both.

10. Chicago Bulls

Another team that could be on the verge of changes if things don't come together this season.

11. Orlando Magic

A young team whose best days are ahead of them with Rookie of the Year Paolo Banchero entering his sophomore campaign.

12. Toronto Raptors

It's hard to see what direction the Raptors are trying to go. What will be the fate of Pascal Siakam, who will be a free agent after this season?

13. Charlotte Hornets

They were a play-in team not long ago, but they haven't found the right roster around LaMelo Ball, who played only 36 games last season.

14. Washington Wizards

Finally hit the rebuild button in dealing Bradley Beal. Jordan Poole will likely lead the league in shot attempts.

15. Detroit Pistons

They have the talent to be a fun team in a couple of years.