Before NBA teams actually begin training camps for the 2012-2013 season, each one has to step up in front of the cameras, microphones and fans on media day. Only after the necessary posing and formalities can they actually begin with their preseason preparations.
Projected starting five – Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow, Kyle Korver, Josh Smith, Al Horford. The team finished 40-26 last season, losing in the first round of the postseason to the Boston Celtics. Anything more than that, or even making the playoffs, will be a bit of a surprise this season.
Projected starting five – Rajon Rondo, Courtney Lee, Paul Pierce, Brandon Bass, Kevin Garnett. The Celtics finished 39-27 last season, reaching the Conference finals and losing to the Miami Heat in 7 games. There’s a big difference in expectations from within and without the franchise, but the Celtics expect to make another title run this year.
Projected starting five – Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Brook Lopez. The Nets, still New Jersey last year, finished with a 22-44 record, missing out on the playoffs. The expectations, and probably the performance level, will be much higher this season.
Projected starting five – Ramon Sessions, Ben Gordon, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Bismack Biyombo, Brendan Haywood. The Bobcats were the worst in the NBA last season with a 7-59 record. Expectations aren’t much higher for 2012-2013.
Projected starting five (until Rose returns) – Kirk Hinrich, Richard Hamilton, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah. The Bulls won 50 games last season, but the Rose injury sent them home early in the postseason. Expectations aren’t too high as long as their franchise player is off the court.
Projected starting five – Kyrie Irving, C.J. Miles, Alonzo Gee, Tristan Thompson, Anderson Varejao. Finished 21-45 last season after a decent start. Should be closer to a playoff spot this year, but still not enough.
Projected starting five – Darren Collison, O.J. Mayo, Shawn Marion, Dirk Nowitzki, Chris Kaman. The Mavs finished 36-30 last season, knocked out in the first round of the postseason. Veteran teams usually expect a lot out of themselves, and a deep roster should help keep this a winning team, with nothing more than a conference semifinal in their cards.
Projected starting five – Ty Lawson, Andre Iguodala, Danilo Gallinari, Kenneth Faried, JaVale McGee. The Nuggets finished 38-28 last season, losing in the first round of the playoffs, something that has happened to them every year over the last decade except for in 2009.
Projected starters – Brandon Knight, Rodney Stuckey, Tayshaun Prince, Jonas Jerebko, Gerg Monroe. Finished 25-41, and should do a bit better this year. Playoffs? Borderline, but probably not good enough yet.
Golden State Warriors
Projected starters – Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson, Harrison Barnes, David Lee, Andrew Bogut. Finished 23-43 last season, and should do a bit better with an actual center for an entire season, although probably not enough to make the postseason.
Projected starters – Jeremy Lin, Kevin Martin, Chandler Parsons, Patrick Patterson, Omer Asik. Finished 34-32 last season, but probably got a bit weaker this year. Won’t make the playoffs.
Projected starters – George Hill, Paul George, Danny Granger, David West, Roy Hibbert. Finished with a 42-24 record last season, losing in the conference semifinals. Expect to move a step further and make the Eastern finals.
Los Angeles Clippers
Projected starters – Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan. Finished 40-26 last season, but were a bit overwhelmed by the San Antonio Spurs in the conference semifinals. Will need a season as good or maybe better to convince Chris Paul to re-sign after the season.
Los Angeles Lakers
Projected starters – Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Paul Gasol, Dwight Howard. Finished 41-25 last season, and lost to the Oklahoma City Thunder in the conference semifinals. Nothing but a championship will be satisfying, but we think they won’t get past the Thunder in the West.
Projected starters – Mike Conley, Tony Allen, Rudy Gay, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol. Finished 41-25 last season, losing in the first round of the postseason to the Clippers. Have high expectations again, but without finding new ways to put points on the board, are in for another disappointing early exit.
Projected starters – Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, Shane Battier, LeBron James, Chris Bosh. Finished 46-20, won the NBA title. Expect to do the same this year, obviously, with an upgraded squad. Hard to see them not making it out of the East.
Projected starters – Brandon Jennings, Monta Ellis, Mike Dunleavy, Drew Gooden, Samuel Dalembert. Finished 31-35 last season. Should be a borderline playoff team this season, maybe get in, if their backcourt remains healthy.
Projected starters – Ricky Rubio, Brandon Roy, Andrei Kirilenko, Kevin Love, Nikola Pekovic. Finished 26-40 last season, falling apart after Rubio went down. Same story this year- the quicker Rubio gets back to the court, the better their chances of making the postseason.
New Orleans Hornets
Projected starters – Greivis Vasquez, Eric Gordon, Al-Farouq Aminu, Ryan Anderson, Anthony Davis. Finished 21-45 last season. Will be much better this year, but probably not enough for a playoff spot.
New York Knicks
Projected starters – Raymond Felton, J.R. Smith, Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler. Finished 36-30 last season, losing once again in the first round of the playoffs. Expecting to finish their season a bit later, but I’m not sure it’ll happen.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Projected starters – Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins. Finished 47-19 last season, losing in the NBA finals. Want to be there again, victorious this time. They’ll probably be in the finals again this year.
Projected starters – Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, Hedo Turkoglu, Glen Davis, Gustavo Ayon. Finished 37-29 last season, losing in the first round of the postseason. Won’t make it this time, not even close.
Projected starters – Jrue Holiday, Jason Richardson, Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes, Andrew Bynum. Finished 35-31 last season, making the conference semifinals. Lost a lost of important parts, added a couple of interesting ones. Defense won’t be the same, but it should get them to the playoffs.
Projected starters – Goran Dragic, Wesley Johnson, Michael Beasley, Luis Scola, Marcin Gortat. Finished 33-33 last season, missing the playoffs. The new no-Nash era begins, but they won’t make the postseason on the first year without him.
Portland Trail Blazers
Projected starters – Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, Meyers Leonard. Missed the playoffs with a 28-38 season. Unless Lillard plays way above expectations and Nicolas Batum turns into Scottie Pippen, Blazers ain’t getting to the postseason.
Projected starters – Isiah Thomas, Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans, Jason Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins. Finished 22-44 last season. Won’t make the playoffs, but could get close if Tyreke Evans gets back to his rookie season ability.
San Antonio Spurs
Projected starters – Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw. Finished 50-16, lost in the conference finals to the Thunder. Expect to go that far again, but probably will fall sooner to either the Lakers or Oklahoma.
Projected starters – Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross, DeMar DeRozan, Andrea Bargnani, Jonas Valanciunas. Finished 23-43 last season. Should be better this season, but a thin front line means no playoff once again.
Projected starters – Mo Williams, Gordon Hayward, Marvin Williams, Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson. Finished 36-30 last season, making the postseason. Should be around that mark once again, although what worked for them last year was playing the big lineup with Derrick Favors getting plenty of time.
Projected starters – John Wall, Bradley Beal, Trevor Ariza, Nene, Emeka Okafor. Finished only 20-46 last season. Will be better in 2012-2013, but I’m not convinced about a playoff spot.