The NBA preseason officially begins with media day, as all the teams send their stars and lesser known players to smile and take pictures. It’s always interesting to see the teams that went through the big changes, like the Cleveland Cavaliers, delivering the newest version of the LeBron James big three, with Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love.
But there are also the Los Angeles Lakers with Kobe Bryant in the center of it all, as usual. The Chicago Bulls, hoping that Derrick Rose stays healthy. And teams like the Philadelphia 76ers, who keep presenting some sort of bright future, crossing their fingers that all their hoarding of draft picks pans out.
Projected starting lineup: Jeff Teague, Kyle Korver, DeMarre Carroll, Paul Millsap, Al Horford.
Last season made the playoffs after going 38-44. If Horford is healthy the entire year, the improved bench should mean an above .500 record and maybe even more than a first round exit.
Projected starting lineup: Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Tyler Zeller.
Last season missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007. It’s going to happen again this year, although we might see some interesting trades going on.
Projected starting lineup: Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Andrei Kirilenko, Kevin Garnett, Brook Lopez.
The Nets made the conference semifinals after a 44-38 regular season. New head coach, old team with less talent. Just making the postseason will be success, but even that might not happen considering the injury risk factor.
Projected starting lineup: Kemba Walker, Lance Stephenson, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Cody Zeller, Al Jefferson.
Made the playoffs for only the second time under the Jordan regime only to be knocked out quickly by the Miami Heat. Should do better this year with Stephenson, aiming to maybe take advantage of the power vacuum left by Miami.
Projected starting lineup: Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah.
Lost in the first round of the playoffs to the Wizards last season. The assumption is that if Derrick Rose is healthy all season long, this team is worth at least making it to the conference finals with Gasol, Mirotic and McDermott joining the team.
Projected starting lineup: Kyrie Irving, Dion Waiters, LeBron James, Kevin Love, Anderson Varejao.
Missed the playoffs four years in a row, including going 33-49 last season. This year? With James and Kevin Love joining the team, anything short of a championship will be disappointing.
Projected starting lineup: Jameer Nelson, Monta Ellis, Chandler Parsons, Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler.
By bringing in Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons, the Mavericks expect to do better than 49-33, and especially finish a bit further than a first round exit in the playoffs.
Projected starting lineup: Ty Lawson, Arron Afflalo, Danilo Gallinary, Kenneth Faried, JaVale McGee
Missed the playoffs for the first time since 2003, finishing 36-46. With Gallinari back from injury and Afflalo joining the team, doing so badly won’t go forgiven.
Projected starting lineup: Brandon Jennings, Jodie Meeks, Josh Smith, Greg Monroe, Andre Drummond.
Went 29-53 last season. If Stan Van Gundy can’t clean up this mess, than maybe there is no hope for this team.
Golden State Warriors
Projected starting lineup: Stephen Curry, Klay Thopmson, Andre Iguodala, David Lee, Andrew Bogut
Finished 51-31 last season but didn’t make it out of the first round in the playoffs. A new coach and one meaningful new player might mean this team finally lives up to its perceived potential.
Projected starting lineup: Patrick Beverley, James Harden, Trevor Ariza, Terrence Jones, Dwight Howard.
A 54-28 season was wasted by getting knocked out in the first round by the Blazers. No more Lin or Parsons might not be good for the Rockets this season, but the expectations from inside the ball club are the same.
Projected starting lineup: George Hill, C.J. Miles, Solomon Hill, David West, Roy Hibbert.
The team got downgraded this summer after finishing with a 56-26 record last season, once again losing in the conference finals. With no Paul George and losing Lance Stephenson, just making the playoffs will be a huge success.
Los Angeles Clippers
Projected starting lineup: Chris Paul, J.J. Redick, Matt Barnes, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan
Finished at 57-25 last season, knocked out in the conference semifinals. The expectations are much higher for the Clippers, adding Spencer Hawes to make the bench look more formidable.
Los Angeles Lakers
Projected starting lineup: Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Wesley Johnson, Carlos Boozer, Jordan Hill
The Lakers will be better than their 27-55 record from last season, but not by much. They might get close to the playoffs if Bryant can stay healthy all year long.
Projected starting lineup: Mike Conley, Courtney Lee, Tayshaun Prince, Zach Randolph, Marc Gasol
Not a lot has changed from the team that went 50-32 last season but was knocked out in the first round of the postseason by the Thunder. If Gasol is healthy for the entire year, there’s nothing to worry about, although offense remains a problem.
Projected starting lineup: Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Josh McRoberts, Chris Bosh
Finished at 54-28 last season, making a fourth consecutive NBA finals, losing to the Spurs. No LeBron James, lower expectations, and maybe the most intriguing team to watch for early in the year because they should still be very good, but different.
Projected starting lineup: Brandon Knight, Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jabari Parker, Ersan Ilyasova, Larry Sanders
After being the worst team in the league last year at 15-67, things should look a bit better with Jabari Parker, but they won’t go near the playoffs.
New Orleans Pelicans
Projected starting lineup: Jrue Holiday, Eric Gordon, Tyreke Evans, Anthony Davis, Omer Asik
With everyone healthy (as healthy as Gordon can be at least) and the addition of Omer Asik, the Pelicans expect to do better than 34-48 and make the playoffs.
New York Knicks
Projected starting lineup: Jose Calderon, Iman Shumpert, Carmelo Anthony, Amare Stoudemire, Samuel Dalembert
Only 37-45 last season, which meant Anthony missing the playoffs for the first time in his career. They changed their coach and have Phil Jackson overseeing from above, but they didn’t actually get better.
Oklahoma City Thunder
Projected starting lineup: Russel Westbrook, Reggie Jackson, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins
Were 59-23 last season and missed the NBA finals again, losing to the Spurs in six. The usual formula: Riding the Durant & Westbrook cotails, hoping Brooks doesn’t get in the way.
Projected starting lineup: Victor Oladipo, Evan Fournier, Maurice Harkness, Channing Frye, Nikola Vucevic
Finished with a 23-59 record last season and didn’t get much better in the summer except for Aaron Gordon being drafted. Simply waiting for youth to turn into talent and not just promise.
Projected starting lineup: Michael Carter-Williams, Tony Wroten, Hollis Thompson, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Nerlens Noel
Were terrible at 19-63 last season. This year? Slightly better, but this is still a project far away from completion day.
Projected starting lineup: Goran Dragic, Eric Bledsoe, P.J. Tucker, Markieff Morris, Miles Plumlee
The Suns almost made the playoffs at 48-34 last year, and if Bledsoe remains healthy for the entire season, it’s going to be hard denying them entry this season.
Portland Trail Blazers
Projected lineup: Damian Lillard, Wesley Matthews, Nicolas Batum, LaMarcus Aldridge, Robin Lopez
Finished 54-28 and got back into the playoffs last season. Made the conference semifinals and expect the same this year, but it’s not easy without actually upgrading the team and still having a bad bench.
Projected starting lineup: Darren Collison, Ben McLemore, Rudy Gay, Jason Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins
The Kings were only 28-54 last season despite not being in actual rebuild. This season? There’s offensive talent in abundance, but it’ll only become playoff or close to that if they can start playing some defense.
San Antonio Spurs
Projected starting lineup: Tony Parker, Danny Green, Kawhi Leonard, Tim Duncan, Tiago Splitter
The NBA champions enter another season with the exact same roster, more or less, together with the intriguing Kyle Anderson from UCLA. Expectations? For this magical ride to last a while longer.
Projected starting lineup: Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross, DeMar DeRozan, Amir Johnson, Jonas Valanciunas
No significant additions to the team that went 48-34 last season, losing in the first round of the playoffs. The East is changing, so the Raptors are hoping to get a bump in the shifting scenario.
Projected starting lineup: Trey Burke, Alec Burks, Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter
Were only 25-57, worst in the West. Have an exciting rookie in Dante Exum, but the playoffs will have to wait a little bit longer.
Projected starting lineup: John Wall, Bradley Beal, Paul Pierce, Nene, Marcin Gortat
The Wizards finished at 44-38, reaching the conference semifinals. This year? They see themselves as good as anyone in the East excluding the Cavaliers. They might not be wrong.