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Original Issue



They meet all of the criteria for must-see hoops, most notably the presence of star power, compelling newcomers and a well-paced offense that sparks success. With LeBron James, Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving, David Blatt's bunch will be the gold standard for intrigue.

2 / Clippers: Lob City ranked first in offense last season despite a host of injuries. With better health, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin could lead the most efficient attack since the 2009--10 Suns.

3 / Thunder: Once MVP Kevin Durant returns (broken right foot), he and Russell Westbrook will again form the league's most electrifying duo.

4 / Warriors: The Splash Brothers (Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson) and fresh ideas from a new coach augur excitement.

5 / Mavericks: The irresistible Dirk Nowitzki will serve once more as the hub of a top five offense. With Tyson Chandler and Chandler Parsons, Dallas has its best roster since winning the 2011 title.

6 / Spurs: No team was as entertaining as the champion during the playoffs, but minutes limits on the big names dampen the regular-season festivities.

7 / Bulls: Though Chicago's M.O. has been to grind down opponents, Derrick Rose's return and Pau Gasol's arrival should revitalize a zombielike offense.

8 / Trail Blazers: Terry Stotts's creative offense and Damian Lillard's heroics will get you out of your seat, but keep a blindfold handy for whenever the impotent second unit checks in.

9 / Suns: Phoenix would win the title if a 6'5" height cap were instituted.

10 / Wizards: The NBA's premier under-25 backcourt will get a late start because John Wall's running mate, Bradley Beal, is nursing a broken left wrist.

11 / Rockets: The offense produces dunks and threes with assembly-line precision.

12 / Heat: What will they do without LeBron James? Can Dwyane Wade play a full season and dominate? Is the bench as thin as it looks? The curiosity factor is off the charts.

13 / Pelicans: Anthony Davis is the NBA's hottest stock, but New Orleans is scheduled to appear on ESPN and TNT only once each. The networks are sleeping on a potential upstart.

14 / Nuggets: Denver plays fast and flies high, substituting plenty of action for surefire All-Stars.

15 / Raptors: What the roster lacks in household names, it makes up for in determination (Kyle Lowry), aerial feats (DeMar DeRozan and Terrence Ross) and appealing old-school post play (Jonas Valanciunas).

16 / Lakers: Kobe Bryant remains as watchable as it gets, even at 36 and after Achilles and knee injuries. The same can't be said for his supporting cast.

17 / Timberwolves: Andrew Wiggins & Co. could be captivating ... if Flip Saunders embraces the youth movement.

18 / Knicks: The intrigue quotient is much higher than their ceiling: Derek Fisher attempts to revive the triangle offense, and one-man show Carmelo Anthony tries to stay sane.

19 / Grizzlies: A bruising, familiar roster doesn't paint masterpieces to hang above your fireplace; it would rather demolish your living room.

20 / Hornets: The polarizing Lance Stephenson adds some pop. Still, Charlotte wins with defense and effort.


Josh Smith's shot selection is sure to bring out the best of Stan Van Gundy's endearingly exasperated expressions. Detroit can't play worse than it did last season.

22 / Bucks: It takes just one glimpse of Giannis Antetokounmpo covering more than half the court with two dribbles and extending for a transition dunk to know that the 19-year-old is capable of the extraordinary.

23 / Jazz: A gaggle of under-25 players—led by rookie NBA coach Quin Snyder—should appeal to viewers who fancy themselves as forecasters. Breakout candidates abound.

24 / Kings: Owner Vivek Ranadivé was overjoyed to win the Las Vegas Summer League, which says it all. Sacramento's outlook is dim again despite having All-Star-caliber DeMarcus Cousins.

25 / Hawks: Even a spread offense and the return of Al Horford can't help Atlanta shake its reputation as the blandest competent team in the league.

26 / Nets: Joe Johnson has a knack for fireworks in the final 10 seconds. Just fast-forward through the other 47:50.

27 / Celtics: Fans of horrific interior defense and choppy offense will be outraged by this ranking. Rookie guard Marcus Smart is the best reason to pay attention. Also: Did you know Gerald Wallace is still in the league?

28 / Magic: It's been 26 months since the Dwight Howard trade, and Orlando has yet to find an alpha dog. Another season of dreadful offense awaits.

29 / 76ers: The debut of Nerlens Noel is the only thing keeping these no-namers out of the basement.

30 / Pacers: Unless you're related to Roy Hibbert, there's no reason to tune in until Paul George returns from his broken right leg.