2012-13 finish: 66-16.
Coming: Michael Beasley, Greg Oden.
Going: Mike Miller, Juwan Howard.
The Heat propped up its three-peat hopes with two balky knees and a whiff of controversy. Oden has already encountered knee swelling in his bid to play for the first time since 2009, enshrouding his return in further doubt.
2012-13 finish: 49-32.
An offense that seemed stuck in molasses suddenly might be on the verge of warp speed with the return of former All-Star Danny Granger and an infusion of talent for the bench. Scola will annoy opponents with his floppy hair and his shooting (career field-goal percentage: .504), Watson is an upgrade at backup point guard and Copeland will stretch defenses with his three-point shooting.
2012-13 finish: 45-37.
Coming: Mike Dunleavy Jr., Tony Snell.
Bulls fans haven't been this excited about a comeback since Michael Jordan's business manager sent out a two-word fax: "I'm back." Derrick Rose looks plenty capable of carrying the hopes of a city on his surgically repaired knee, if several vintage preseason performances are any indication.
2012-13 finish: 49-33.
How many yachts can owner Mikhail Prokhorov water-ski behind? Not nearly as many now that his team will pay a record $183 million in payroll and luxury taxes, a sum that would make even fictional tycoon Gordon Gekko queasy. But if greed is good, as Gekko's catchphrase goes, then this team should be terrific if rookie coach Kidd can handle a roster of contemporaries.
5. New York
2012-13 finish: 54-28.
Tabloid headline writers may have emerged the biggest winners of the summer when World Peace, a native of Queens, decided to come home. Early efforts have included "PEACE ACCORD" and "WaRRin' Peace Brother." Concerns about Amare Stoudemire's knee and Carmelo Anthony's contract status could be seasonlong downers, though.
2012-13 finish: 24-58.
Reunited and it feels so … good? Brown and Bynum are together again, two years after the 7-footer enjoyed his most productive NBA season while playing for Brown with the Lakers. If Bynum actually plays after sitting out all of last season and Anderson Varejao can avoid another freak injury, then the Cavaliers will be this season's biggest breakthrough.
2012-13 finish: 44-38.
The Hawks are like a terminal inside Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport; everyone is either coming or going. One season after the team welcomed nine new players, it will have at least seven new faces for its opener. Smith's departure ushers in the Millsap era.
2012-13 finish: 29-53.
The Pistons could make the playoffs for the first time since 2009 if Smith flashes his all-around brilliance and youngsters Jennings, Caldwell-Pope and Andre Drummond mature. The savvy Billups will give Cheeks the equivalent of a player-coach who can be a taskmaster if needed.
2012-13 finish: 29-53.
Owner Ted Leonsis said he expects the Wizards to contend for the playoffs, which would be an epic achievement for a team that has gone 72-158 (.313) since he took charge in the summer of 2010. Trading for Gortat will help. But John Wall and Nene must remain healthy for a full season and Bradley Beal must generate some payoff from all that promise.
2012-13 finish: 34-48.
Coming: Tyler Hansbrough, D.J. Augustin, Steve Novak, Austin Daye, Dwight Buycks.
The Raptors look remarkably similar for a team that just swapped general managers. Coach Dwane Casey and all five starters are back from last season, giving new General Manager Masai Ujiri time to evaluate everyone before making changes. If Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry do their jobs, Ujiri may not want to do much of anything.
2012-13 finish: 38-44.
The Bucks are sparing everyone the pretense of trying to stay competitive, slipping into full rebuild mode. Actually, it's not clear what they're doing. They made no marquee additions to a team that was swept in the first round of the playoffs.
2012-13 finish: 21-61.
Clifford, the Bobcats' third coach in three years, has a singular talent his predecessors didn't in Jefferson, who will be the focal point of the offense. Veteran Ben Gordon gets a fresh start after warring with Duncan. Owner Michael Jordan described Zeller as "a connector like [Josh] McRoberts, only more talented." Not sure how that went over with McRoberts.
2012-13 finish: 20-62.
Coming: Victor Oladipo, Jason Maxiell, Ronnie Price.
Going: Hedo Turkoglu, Al Harrington, Beno Udrih.
Year 2 of the Dwight Howard Hangover doesn't figure to be much better than Year 1. Tobias Harris and Nikola Vucevic give the Magic a pair of emerging talents, but there's not much quality depth. It may not be long before fans start rooting for losses to improve the team's odds of drafting the franchise savior that is Andrew Wiggins.
2012-13 finish: 41-40.
Coming: Coach Brad Stevens, Kris Humphries, Gerald Wallace, Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, Vitor Faverani, Kelly Olynyk.
This season may make Celtics fans long for the days of Rick Pitino and Antoine Walker. Rajon Rondo may not be back from knee surgery before early 2014, which figures to be a long year here regardless.
2012-13 finish: 34-48.
The only thing generating more boos than this team could be Bynum when he returns with Cleveland on Nov. 8. The departure of Bynum (after zero games as a 76er) and All-Star point guard Jrue Holiday, plus Noel's injury, which will keep him sidelined this season, has left fans with little to root for.