1-BOSTON CELTICS (starters-Rondo, Allen, Pierce, Garnett, Perkins): Kevin Garnett will be back which should keep the team hungry. Key bench addition Rasheed Wallace adds to the hunger and another champion. The item to watch is the age factor. Is the core getting a bit long in the tooth? Also, how will Rondo respond after an offseason where rumors swirled that he was going to be dealt.
2-PHILADELPHIA 76ERS (L. Williams, Iguodala, Young, Brand, Dalembert): I really like this team. They aren't at the Celtics level, but this is a team that can challenge for a top-four seed. There are also some interesting bench guys with Jrue Holliday, Stro Swift, Jason Kapono and Marreese Speights adding unpredictability as part of their skill set. If Brand can stay healthy, this team could make it to the second round. If they can find a guy to take Andre Miller's role, they could be special.
3-TORONTO RAPTORS (Calderon, DeRozan, Turkoglu, Bosh, Bargnani): Turkoglu adds savvy to a team that is young, but extremely talented. The team took a big dip last year, but I think they'll turn it around and get back into the postseason. They aren't flashy and won't get much run on national television, but this franchise knows what it is and how they can be successful.
4-NEW YORK KNICKS (Duhon, Robinson, Chandler, D. Lee, Curry): It's hard to figure these Knicks out. There is no doubt that there is talent there. There is no doubt that Mike D'Antoni can get scoring out of his teams. The problem is that there are a bunch of guys on this team that thinks they are stars. Al Harrington and Larry Hughes are now role players and New York has two perceived busts in Darko Milicic and Danilo Gallinari.
5-NEW JERSEY NETS (Harris, C. Lee, Yi, S. Williams, Lopez): This team is a work in process. Harris came into his own last season. Lee, Yi and Lopez are up-and-comers who have benefited from the many minutes they got last year. The problem is that without Vince Carter, there is no take-charge scorer that can create his own points. Also, the bench isn't that good.