1. Golden State Warriors: Defending champs have two of NBA’s best in Kevin Durant, Steph Curry, All-Stars Klay Thompson and Draymond Green defend, kept key subs Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston.
2. San Antonio Spurs: Tony Parker (torn quadriceps) likely out until January, but PGs Patty Mills, Dejounte Murray are capable. Kawhi Leonard, LaMarcus Aldridge form great duo, Rudy Gay adds depth.
3. Minnesota Timberwolves: Young stars Karl Anthony-Towns, Andrew Wiggins ready to make leap via coach Tom Thibodeau’s brilliant addition of vets Jimmy Butler, Jeff Teague, Taj Gibson, Jamal Crawford.
4. Oklahoma City Thunder: NBA MVP Russell Westbrook has help again with addition of scorers Paul George, Carmelo Anthony, but chemistry might suffer if they don’t show long-term commitment.
5. Houston Rockets: Lost depth in trade for PG Chris Paul, who pushes James Harden back to SG. Sixth Man winner Eric Gordon adds firepower, but team defense remains weakness.
6. Los Angeles Clippers: Roster overhaul requires adjustment, but Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan boosted by Euro PG Milos Teodosic, Danilo Gallinari plus trade haul from Rockets for divisive Paul.
7. Portland Trail Blazers: Damian Lillard, CJ McCollum backcourt combo averaged 50.0 points, C Jusuf Nurkic impressed after midseason trade. Need Evan Turner bounceback. Rookies Zach Collins, Caleb Swanigan promising.
8. New Orleans Pelicans: Signing of tough vet PG Rajon Rondo to support frontcourt powerhouse of Anthony Davis, DeMarcus Cousins might allow Pelicans to beat Denver for final playoff berth.