GOLDEN STATE has sparked two simultaneous arms races, one stylistic and one structural. On the court, the Warriors' preferred approach—pace, space and ball movement—has swept through the league. Off the court, their collection of stars has set off a wave of roster movement among top contenders. Rival stars and executives reached the same conclusion this summer: There's no way to beat the champs at their own game without approximating their talent.
Scoring reached its highest point in 24 years last season, and it could go up even more with so many aspiring Superteams on the horizon. Here's how the booming NBA shapes up in terms of entertainment value, from FOMO-inspiring to Yawn-inducing. Criteria include projected success, style of play, firepower, age, health, coaching and personality.
The Dubs Dynasty seeks its third title in four years with help from an upgraded bench. As if Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Draymond Green really needed reinforcements.
Mike D'Antoni and JAMES HARDEN made a better pairing than anyone expected, and now Chris Paul arrives as a second elite playmaker. More three-point records will fall.
PAUL GEORGE and Carmelo Anthony will prevent Russell Westbrook from drifting back into one-man-band gimmickry. OKC's new trio will be engrossing whether it booms or busts.
Brad Stevens made his name by squeezing every ounce out of mediocre talent. Now he gets to enjoy maximizing Kyrie Irving and GORDON HAYWARD.
LeBron is stuck carrying an aging rotation until Isaiah Thomas is healthy. Small ball should keep things humming, but the reworked Cavs will require patience.
Giannis Antetokounmpo accelerates like LeBron, dunks like Durant and continuously improves like Kawhi. He's ready to lead Milwaukee to the second round.
The hype wave that engulfed Karl-Anthony Towns last fall was four months premature. A year older (at 21) and wiser, the big man is ready this time.
No Chris Paul means no title contention, but the highlight-reel plays will live on. Blake Griffin should relish being the Man, and Milos Teodosic's passing will have everyone gushing.
Nikola Jokic's breakout season transformed Denver into a pass-happy offensive juggernaut overnight. The ball doesn't just move—it teleports.
10 TRAIL BLAZERS
Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum bring the sizzle, but the front line was lacking in steak until Jusuf Nurkic arrived last February. The brash 7-footer buoys Portland's playoff hopes.
The highest-variance team on this list due to Joel Embiid's injury history. When their grand franchise center is healthy, frisky Philadelphia is as captivating as any team outside the Bay Area.
Come to appreciate Kawhi Leonard's isolation scoring savvy. Stay to savor the league's most precise and energetic defense.
John Wall, Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. are all coming off career years and now have their sights set on the East finals. Can the Wiz count on pristine health for their starters again?
Born of desperation, the unconventional Twin Towers pairing of Anthony Davis and DeMarcus Cousins will try to make hay in a league of Lilliputians.
If the dozens of reporters who painstakingly captured his every move at Media Day are any indication, Lonzo Ball will be a full-fledged phenomenon from Day One.
Moxie trumps star power on South Beach these days. Goran Dragic plays until he bleeds, Dion Waiters shoots until his arm falls off, and Erik Spoelstra coaxes top effort from his defense.
There's a fine line between familiar and stale. Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan & Co. are approaching the wrong side of that line, even as they crank out winning seasons.
The NBA's least watchable good team. Rudy Gobert spearheads a pulverizing defense, but Gordon Hayward's defection means that an already clunky attack will regularly stall out.
Phil, Carmelo and D-Rose were all jettisoned, leaving Kristaps Porzingis as the new King of New York. Unfortunately, the Latvian sensation's bleak court is full of paupers, not princes.
Nothing can stop Mike Conley and Marc Gasol from getting buckets. But it's just not the same without Zach Randolph and Tony Allen to share in the Grit 'N' Grind.
Lacking a stabilizing top 20 star, Charlotte has yo-yoed in and out of the playoffs. Gambling on Dwight Howard screams, "What have we got to lose?"
A futile tank job and an empty offseason leaves Phoenix right back where it was a year ago: selling Devin Booker as the future and hoping that his unpolished teammates prove useful.
Watch out, Vlade Divac: Cousins isn't around to blame anymore. Sacramento's shaky front office has built an ill-fitting, underwhelming roster of has-beens and not-yets.
Former lottery pick D'ANGELO RUSSELL is a rare source of hope for Brooklyn fans, who should finally be able to smile occasionally.
The devastating, pretty offenses built around peak Dirk Nowitzki are gone forever. Deliberate Dallas was the only team to average fewer than 100 points last season.
New downtown arena, same lackluster vibe. While Stan Van Gundy reshaped his starting lineup, he really needed to detonate the Reggie Jackson--Andre Drummond duo.
During its perpetual rebuild, Orlando has stumbled upon all sorts of different ways to lose. None has been satisfying in the slightest.
GM Travis Schlenk took the plunge on reconstruction, and suddenly the Spurs of the East became the Nets of the South: hard-working, anonymous and terrible.
Paul George forced his way out of Indy after years of unsuccessful retooling efforts. Fans are left to pray that Myles Turner grows up quickly.
The Three Alphas era was a miserable failure, so Chicago moved on from Jimmy Butler, Dwyane Wade and Rajon Rondo. The Zero Alphas should be irrelevant until at least 2020.
GAMES TO WATCH
This season's appointment viewing
Rockets @ Warriors Oct. 17, 10:30 p.m.*
Opening night will be a long-distance affair. In four matchups last year the teams combined for one three-point attempt every 40 seconds.
Thunder @ Pacers Dec. 13, 8 p.m.
Paul George's return to Indy might not be warm and fuzzy. Pay attention, Carmelo: You'll get your own awkward homecoming three days later when OKC invades MSG.
Lakers @ Cavs Dec. 14, 8 p.m.
LeBron gets his first glimpse at Lonzo's Lakers.
Wizards @ Celtics Dec. 25, 5:30 p.m.
On Christmas, you can have your goodwill toward men. We'll take the NBA's testiest rivalry.
Warriors @ Cavs Jan. 15, 8 p.m.
Get your fill: After this showdown, these two won't meet again until early June.
T-Wolves @ 76ers March 24, 6 p.m.
Millenials running rampant: Embiid. Towns. Simmons. Wiggins. Fultz. Feel good about the NBA's future.
Nets @ Bulls April 7, 8 p.m.
These bottom-feeders will meet again in Brooklyn two days later. Lottery intrigue is certain to abound!
*All times Eastern