As best-case scenarios go, the Lakers' won't amount to much. If Kobe Bryant returns intact (and relatively early in the season), Pau Gasol and Kaman combine to give opponents 14 feet of hell, Nick Young plays a shred of defense and Steve Nash, 39, doesn't dissolve into dust before our eyes … the Lakers could make the playoffs!


9. Denver

2012-13 finish: 57-25.

Coming: Coach Brian Shaw, Nate Robinson, J.J. Hickson, Randy Foye, Darrell Arthur.

Going: Coach George Karl, Andre Iguodala, Kosta Koufos, Corey Brewer.

Shaw may discover that head coaching jobs aren't always as fun as they seem from the safety of the No. 2 gig. He'll have to deal with JaVale McGee's unfulfilled potential and Danilo Gallinari's knee injury, which could keep the dynamic small forward out until December. Wait, why did Shaw want this job again?

10. Portland

2012-13 finish: 33-49.

Coming: Robin Lopez, Dorell Wright, Mo Williams, C.J. McCollum, Allen Crabbe, Earl Watson, Thomas Robinson.

Going: J.J. Hickson, Eric Maynor, Luke Babbitt, Nolan Smith.

General Manager Neil Olshey is a smart guy, which means he knows his overhaul of the Trail Blazers might take more time to result in a playoff appearance. McCollum's broken foot won't help. On the plus side, Olshey added some quality depth to support the core of LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum and Damian Lillard.

11. New Orleans

2012-13 finish: 27-55.

Coming: Tyreke Evans, Jrue Holiday, Greg Stiemsma, Anthony Morrow.

Going: Robin Lopez, Greivis Vasquez.

The Pelicans hope to be all about transformation, from the new nickname to Evans finding a niche to suit his skills to Eric Gordon making it through a full season after playing in only 51 of a possible 148 games since joining the franchise. Holiday gives New Orleans its first upper-echelon point guard since Chris Paul's departure.

12. Dallas

2012-13 finish: 41-41.

Coming: Monta Ellis, Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin, Devin Harris, DeJuan Blair.