New uniforms. New location. New stars. Just like with the Lakers, it takes time to mesh all that stuff. Plus, it remains to be seen if Deron Williams can stay healthy for a full season. The talent is there, but there are a lot of questions surrounding this team.
Los Angeles Clippers
If Chris Paul and Blake Griffin are healthy all year, this is the third best team in the West. If they’re not then this isn't even a playoff squad.
Boston made some very interesting pick-ups this summer. The loss of Ray Allen doesn’t hurt the Celtics as much as it helps the Heat. This squad could make a lot of noise in the East if Kevin Garnett can replicate last year’s run. (He probably won’t.)
San Antonio Spurs
On paper, they still don’t look young enough or athletic enough (their stars, not roleplayers) to compete with the Oklahoma’s, L.A.’s and Memphis’ of the West. Plus, they have a tendency to not have back-to-back strong years. Wouldn’t be shocking to see this squad take a step back in 2012-13.
Oddsmakers are looking at the way this team played for most of last year sans Derrick Rose, and they’re saying that they don’t think he’s as impactful as folks think he is. That’s the only way to read these odds. Either way, they’re wrong. Without Rose, this team doesn’t get out of the first round. Again.
Oklahoma City Thunder
This team didn’t do much of anything to improve itself outside of the draft. And while one might make the case that a squad that got to the Finals doesn’t really need to improve much – there is a reason they didn’t ultimately take home the hardware. OKC is basically counting on the growth of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook over this summer being greater than the Heat’s and Lakers' additions. We’ll see.
Los Angeles Lakers
Mitch Kupchak is brilliant and this team is loaded. That said, teams of this variety typically need a year to adjust and mesh together. (Boston being the obvious exception.) The Lakers obviously could win this season, but there is a reason they’re not the favorites.
The Rashard Lewis addition is meaningless, but the Ray Allen one means the world. Allen addresses this team’s single major weakness aside from the center position. The favorites, hands down.