The reigning champion Miami Heat enter the 2012-13 NBA season as the league's elite team, but who knows what the next six months will hold for LeBron James and his teammates as they attempt to defend their title. Kevin Durant and the Oklahoma City Thunder are hungrier than ever. The Los Angeles Lakers have reloaded with Dwight Howard and Steve Nash, and the Boston Celtics have stocked their roster with new faces.Here's a look at how the league's 30 teams stand before the season starts on Tuesday:
1. Miami Heat (46-20 last season): Will the NBA see the Dwyane Wade of old or an old Dwyane Wade after his offseason knee surgery?
2. Oklahoma City Thunder (47-19 last season): Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder return hungrier after losing in the Finals, but will James Harden's uncertain future with the franchise become a distraction?
3. Los Angeles Lakers (41-25 last season): Dwight Howard's strong play in his preseason debut calmed any worries about his back, but the team's bench remains a concern.
4. Boston Celtics (39-27 last season): The Celtics certainly don't lack for depth after signing Leandro Barbosa, Jason Terry, Jeff Green and Darko Milicic in the offseason.
5. Los Angeles Clippers (40-26 last season): The Clippers have a deep veteran bench, but will they all be happy with limited playing time?
6. San Antonio Spurs (50-16 last season): With Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard – and Gregg Popovich – all back, the Spurs still have the respect of their Western Conference peers.
7. Denver Nuggets (38-28 last season): Adding All-Star Andre Iguodala and having Wilson Chandler back healthy should make the Nuggets a team to watch in the West.
8. Indiana Pacers (42-24 last season): With the Pacers restructuring their front office, will this be Danny Granger's last season in Indiana?
9. New York Knicks (36-30 last season): Will Carmelo Anthony make a full-time move to power forward with Amar'e Stoudemire injured?
10. Brooklyn Nets (22-44 last season): Is the Eastern Conference's best backcourt now in Brooklyn with Deron Williams and Joe Johnson?
11. Memphis Grizzlies (41-25 last season): The Grizzlies haven't found a replacement for the scoring they lost with the departure of O.J. Mayo to Dallas.
12. Philadelphia 76ers (35-31 last season): The Lakers are probably snickering about Andrew Bynum's latest knee injuries. Bynum could make the Sixers a contender in the East, but when will he play?
13. Chicago Bulls (50-16 last season): The Bulls proved they could win for stretches without Derrick Rose, but how will they fare with their All-Star point guard's return for this season uncertain?
14. Utah Jazz (36-30 last season): The Jazz have quietly put together a talented and deep roster with the additions of Mo Williams, Randy Foye and Marvin Williams.
15. Dallas Mavericks (36-30 last season): The Mavericks will have plenty of time to make up ground in the West once Dirk Nowitzki returns from knee surgery – provided he doesn't have any complications.
16. Atlanta Hawks (40-26 last season): The Hawks will soon appreciate what Joe Johnson meant to their franchise.
17. Milwaukee Bucks (31-35 last season): The Bucks have a high-scoring backcourt in Brandon Jennings and Monta Ellis, but will they be able to stop their opponents defensively?
18. Detroit Pistons (25-41 last season): Forward Greg Monroe and rookie center Andre Drummond give the Pistons a talented, young tandem inside – and maybe make them a surprise playoff contender in the East.
19. Phoenix Suns (33-33 last season): While Steve Nash and Grant Hill are gone, the additions of Goran Dragic, Luis Scola, Michael Beasley and Wes Johnson will keep the Suns competitive.
20. Portland Trail Blazers (28-38 last season): Point guard Damian Lillard already looks like he could be the NBA's top rookie this season.
21. Sacramento Kings (22-44 last season): DeMarcus Cousins has the talent to become an All-Star center this season. Can he also lift the Kings into the playoffs?
22. Golden State Warriors (23-43 last season): The Warriors have the talent and depth to make a run at the playoffs, but the success of their season is resting on the fragile ankles of Stephen Curry and Andrew Bogut.
23. Minnesota Timberwolves (26-40 last season): The T'wolves will likely have to dig themselves out of a hole after beginning the season without Kevin Love or Ricky Rubio to start season.
24. Cleveland Cavaliers (21-45 last season): Kyrie Irving looks poised to become one of the NBA's elite players this season, but will Dion Waiters live up to being the fourth overall pick?
25. Toronto Raptors (23-43 last season): The Raptors have high expectations for rookie center Jonas Valanciunas, but will Andrea Bargnani finally step up?
26. Houston Rockets (34-32 last season): Jeremy Lin is facing a lot of pressure to live up to the hype of last season – and his big contract.
27. New Orleans Hornets (21-45 last season): Eric Gordon is expected to be available for the start of the season, but how will Hornets fans react to him after he said he'd rather play for the Suns?
28. Orlando Magic (37-29 last season): The Magic face a long rebuilding season after trading Dwight Howard. So much so that first-year coach Jacque Vaughn is now the face of the franchise.
29. Washington Wizards (20-46 last season): The Wizards have already been hit with several injuries, including point guard John Wall (knee) and oft-injured forward Nene (foot).
30. Charlotte Bobcats (7-59 last season): The Bobcats have nowhere to go but up after finishing last season with the worst losing percentage in NBA history.
NBA Power Rankings 2012: Heat lead pack - Yahoo! Sports
"I'm always amazed to hear of victims so badly mutilated that they have to be identified by their dental records. What I can't understand is, if they don't know who you are, how do they know who your dentist is?" - Paul Merton
pretty pointless rankings but to have Bos and LAC above the Spurs seems a bit odd....doesn't matter to me, as long as we're healthy going into the playoffs
I think he's going to be a star. And as time goes on, he'll be the face of the Spurs, I think.--- Coach Pop on Leonard
I guess if you are going to have power rankings, you have to start somewhere even if you have absolutely no data from this season to base the rankings on. Power rankings seem to be popular amongst fans.
With almost the same Spurs team returning this year, I'm only concerned about 2 broad subjects by the end of the 82-game regular season:
1. Regain and retain their awesome offensive performance.
2. Strive and succeed in holding opponents to under 100 per game.
That's the only power I care about.
It's going to be interesting to see how long OKC remains relevant. If Harden decides to leave and go to a bigger market I can see them falling off a bit. Its hard to maintain their level of competitiveness in such a small market, the Spurs really are an enigma in that area. I hope they do keep Harden, because I would like to see another small market team dominate the way the Spurs did, but I just think it can fall apart quickly if he bolts.
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