Since it is the offseason (and nothing is happening) and pretty much all the moves have been made (Love was finally dealt) make your early predictions for seeding. You can do only the eastern conference if you want, but I am going to do both.
Remember: 3 of the top 4 have to be division winners.
1. Cleveland (central champs): Signing LeBron instantly vaulted them into the top 3, and the Love deal puts them solidly at number 1. However, they are not a lock for the finals. This team has a lot of question marks defensively and I'm not sure if Irving and Varejao will stay healthy.
2. Chicago: I was originally hesitant to put a hemorrhaging (last year) offensive team this high, but Rose has looked very good in his team USA appearances. If he stays healthy I have them at 2. If the injury bug bites him again (and I truly hope it doesn't) I would slide them down to 5 or 6.
Lineup: Rose-Butler-Dunleavy-Gibson-Noah (This is my assumption of their lineup)
3. Charlotte (southeast champs): I'm definitely a homer, but I truly see us being the 3rd best team in a somewhat weak eastern conference. If you have us beating out Washington and Miami then we are top 4 by default, and I think we are better than Toronto.
4.Toronto (atlantic champ): The atlantic conference champion has to go here, and unless you see New York or Brooklyn usurping Toronto, this is their spot. They haven't really improved their roster since last year, but they retained their young core from an impressive run. If DeRozan can become more efficient, they have a chance at being very, very good.
5. Washington: Their bench is much better than last year, but they traded a contract year Ariza for a very old Paul Pierce who will be forced to guard the wing. This is an underrated problem that no one takes into consideration, as Ariza is an excellent perimeter defender and always took the best wing from the opposing team. However, they are still a good team and will be tough for us to beat this season.
6. Miami: The loss of LeBron is very rough. They added Deng and McRoberts, but Chris Bosh is going to have to carry the offense, and after not being a true post player the last several seasons, this will be a very interesting season to watch. They are still solidly in the playoffs.
7. New York: The Knicks quietly had a very, very good offseason. Jackson has done a great job thus far, and with Indiana being crippled I have them being in the playoffs, as I see them as better than Brooklyn and Atlanta. I do think the 3 way fight between the teams I have 7-9 will be fun to watch this season.
8. Atlanta: The Hawks always make the playoffs, and I think they squeeze in this season, edging the Nets at the end of the season. Not much to say about them, they get Horford back, but the only improvement they really made was adding Thabo, who played horrifically last season during the playoffs.
9. Brooklyn: Welcome back to the Brook Lopez show. Unless you think an aging Joe Johnson and a meh Deron Williams leads them to the playoffs, Lopez is going to have to show why he is one of the top 2 offensive centers in the league. I think they just miss the playoffs.
Lineup: Williams-Jack-Johnson-Garnett (for 10 games)-Lopez
10. Indiana: Without Lance they were still a playoff team. Without George and Lance they lost 75% of an already bad offense, and their best 2 defenders. Who is the first option for this team? West isn't able to carry a team, Hibbert is meh offensively. They fight but miss the playoffs by a decent margin.
Lineup: G. Hill-Stuckey-S. Hill-West-Hibbert
11.Detroit: Improved with Van Gundy, but with the current roster they're on a treadmill unless they can dump Smith somehow.
12. Boston: They had a good offseason, but the roster they have now is good for nothing more than ruining a teams playoff seeding, same as last year.
13. Milwaukee: They added Jabari, but they also added Jason Kidd, who is a sub-par coach imo. They will be better, but I don't see them being great with their current roster.
14. Orlando: The most likely candidate for worst offseason moves. They turned their 2 best player (Afflalo, Nelson) into Fournier, Frye, and Ben Gordon. Good luck with that.
15. Philadelphia: The Sixers turned a horrific season into 2 first round picks that won't play this season. Philly is in for the long haul.
1.Oklahoma City (northwest champs): I feel like the Thunder will come out motivated this season and really look to have a good year. It seems like Brooks changed his style somewhat last season after benching Thabo during the Spurs series.
2. San Antonio (southwest champs): They are the champs. They have exactly the same team as last year, though I don't think they will be quite as hungry. Still, can't put them any lower than here.
3. LA Clippers (pacific champs): They didn't reall improve their roster, outside of adding Hawes. But they were a very good team last year, and I see them staying as the 3 seed.
4. Dallas: They improved an aging roster by adding Chandler and Parsons. Tyson Chandler is the key to this team imo. If he returns to the form he had in his first stint in Dallas, they are the 4 seed. If he plays like he did last year in New York, they are an 8 seed, maybe out in the tough west.
5. Golden State: Pretty much the same team with a new coach, If Curry is injured, or Kerr's system doesn't mesh, they could easily miss the playoffs.
6.Memphis: I'm very high on Memphis. Another team that is pretty much the same as last year, but hopefully for them they have Gasol healthy for the entire season.
7.Portland: The only thing they added this offseason was Kaman. It takes more than that to stay in the top 5 of the western conference. They should still be a good offensive team, just don't ask them to get any defensive stops.
8. Houston: The Rockets managed to get worse this offseason, despite having the cap space to sign a max player. Unless James Harden learns how to play defense I don't think Houston will go very far this season. Their starting 5 is still pretty good, but trading Asik and Lin obliterated their bench.
9. Denver: I think Denver makes a good run at the postseason this year. They were a pretty good team last year, they could just never stay healthy. If they manage to stay healthy they could sneak their way into this.
10. Pheonix: I'm still not convinced last season wasn't a fluke. They got somewhat better, but the Bledsoe situation still isn't resolved, and I don't trust the Suns very much. They should still win upwards of 40 games, but that's only good for 10th in the west.
Lineup: Bledsoe-Dragic-Green-Markieff Morris-Plumlee
11. New Orleans: Getting Asik definitely makes them better, but Gordon and Holliday need to play a full season, which I'm not sure if either have ever done.
12. Minnesota: Well Love is gone, but they got a nice return for him. If they turn Bennet into Thad Young I will slide them above the Pelicans. For the Wolves to be any better this season they need Wiggins and LaVine to develop very quickly.
13. Sacramento: Poor, poor Kings. I was watching one of their old games from the 2003 season when they were good about a week ago. Maybe eventually they will be able to get that energy back. But spending 2 straight top 10 picks on the same position isn't going to get it done on the west.
14. LA Lakers: Unless Kobe gets a time machine, the Lakers aren't going to be much better imo.
15. Utah: I have no idea what to say about the Jazz. Besides that they will be bad this season.