Team outlooks in predicted order of finish
1. Cleveland Cavaliers
2015-16: 57-25. Coming: Mike Dunleavy, Chris Andersen, Kay Felder. Going: Matthew Dellavedova, Timofey Mozgov.
The path to back-to-back titles has a large potential roadblock in Oakland, but that won’t keep LeBron James and Co. from controlling the East. They didn’t make any major changes to the roster, re-signing shooting guard J.R. Smith to a four-year contract.
2. Boston Celtics
2015-16: 48-34. Coming: Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, Gerald Green. Going: Evan Turner, Jared Sullinger.
With the addition of prized free agent Horford, coach Brad Stevens finally has a talented inside-out center to plug into his offense, which led the East in scoring last season. But the Celtics are probably a scoring wing away from being a truly dangerous title contender.
3. Toronto Raptors
2015-16: 56-26. Coming: Jared Sullinger, Jakob Poeltl, Pascal Siakam. Going: Bismack Biyombo, James Johnson, Luis Scola, Anthony Bennett.
The Raptors sought a floor-spacing forward in free agency and landed Sullinger, an up-and-down shooter in four seasons with the Celtics. If he doesn’t work out, they can pair center Jonas Valanciunas with Patrick Patterson or DeMarre Carroll.
4. Indiana Pacers
2015-16: 45-37. Coming: Coach Nate McMillan, Jeff Teague, Al Jefferson, Thaddeus Young, Kevin Seraphin, Aaron Brooks. Going: George Hill, Jordan Hill, Solomon Hill, Ian Mahinmi, Ty Lawson.
The Pacers shook things up in the offseason, but any Paul George-led team has a lot of potential. They likely will bring Jefferson, part of the dying breed of low-post scorers, off the bench, while the athletic Young is a solid fit next to 20-year-old center Myles Turner.
5. Chicago Bulls
2015-16: 42-40. Coming: Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, Robin Lopez, Michael Carter-Williams, Denzel Valentine, Jerian Grant. Going: Derrick Rose, Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, Mike Dunleavy, Aaron Brooks, Tony Snell.
A potential lineup of Rondo, Wade, Jimmy Butler, Taj Gibson and Lopez lacks a decent 3-point shooter. Coach Fred Hoiberg can change that by giving Nikola Mirotic “starter minutes” off the bench. In Wade, Rondo and Lopez, the Bulls are relying heavily on veterans with something to prove.
6. Atlanta Hawks
2015-16: 48-34. Coming: Dwight Howard, Taurean Prince, Jarrett Jack, DeAndre’ Bembry. Going: Al Horford, Jeff Teague.
Howard’s homecoming means the Hawks have to drastically alter coach Mike Budenholzer’s five-out motion offense. Howard’s skill set tethers him to the paint, which will clog Paul Millsap’s driving lanes and make shooters Kyle Korver and Kent Bazemore vital.
7. Detroit Pistons
2015-16: 44-38. Coming: Henry Ellenson, Ish Smith, Boban Marjanovic, Michael Gbinije, Jon Leuer. Going: Joel Anthony, Anthony Tolliver, Spencer Dinwiddie, Steve Blake (Maryland).
The Pistons will be without point guard Reggie Jackson (knee tendinitis) for two months. Smith will likely replace him. Stan Van Gundy has a core of young talent, including center Andre Drummond and shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, both 23.
8. New York Knicks
2015-16: 32-50. Coming: Coach Jeff Hornacek, Derrick Rose, Joakim Noah, Brandon Jennings, Courtney Lee. Going: Robin Lopez, Arron Afflalo, Jose Calderon, Langston Galloway, Kevin Seraphin, Derrick Williams.
Phil Jackson’s offseason shopping spree is a bet on the benefits of a scenery change and better health. Rose, Noah and Jennings must lose their “injury-riddled” reputations. With Carmelo Anthony and the improving Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks should turn around.
9. Washington Wizards
2015-16: 41-41. Coming: Coach Scott Brooks, Ian Mahinmi, Trey Burke, Andrew Nicholson, Jason Smith. Going: Jared Dudley, Ramon Sessions, Nene.
The Wizards put in bids for Kevin Durant and Al Horford but struck out. Their biggest acquisition was career backup center Mahinmi, who could miss six weeks after knee surgery. With a roster full of average big men, John Wall and Co. will miss the playoffs.
10. Charlotte Hornets
2015-16: 48-34. Coming: Marco Belinelli, Roy Hibbert, Ramon Sessions. Going: Al Jefferson, Courtney Lee, Jeremy Lin.
The Hornets will struggle without Jefferson’s inside scoring. His departure will force them to space the floor and let Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist attack the rim. An active defense will help while they sort out their offensive identity.
11. Orlando Magic
2015-16: 35-47. Coming: Coach Frank Vogel, Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo, Jeff Green, D.J. Augustin. Going: Victor Oladipo, Andrew Nicholson, Brandon Jennings, Jason Smith.
The Magic have one of the NBA’s most puzzling rosters, with so many big men and only so many minutes to go around. Ibaka, Biyombo and Green joined a frontcourt that already had the talented Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon. Evan Fournier is the only reliable shooter.
12. Milwaukee Bucks
2015-16: 33-49. Coming: Mirza Teletovic, Michael Beasley, Matthew Dellavedova, Tony Snell, Thon Maker, Jason Terry. Going: Jerryd Bayless, Michael Carter-Williams, Greivis Vasquez (Maryland), Tyler Ennis.
The Giannis Antetokounmpo point-forward experiment will start without swingman Khris Middleton, whose torn hamstring might keep him sidelined through the All-Star break. He will be missed as the Bucks try to create room for center Greg Monroe and others inside.
13. Miami Heat
2015-16: 48-34. Coming: Dion Waiters, James Johnson, Derrick Williams, Wayne Ellington. Going: Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, Joe Johnson, Gerald Green, Amare Stoudemire.
Wade’s departure late in free agency forced Pat Riley to spend his money on mid-level replacements, then Chris Bosh failed his physical. The Heat have a good pick-and-roll combo in Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside and a promising wing in Justise Winslow.
14. Philadelphia 76ers
2015-16: 10-72. Coming: Ben Simmons, Dario Saric, Gerald Henderson, Jerryd Bayless. Going: Isaiah Canaan, Kendall Marshall.
Big man Joel Embiid will make his NBA debut two years after he was drafted, but No. 1 pick Simmons will be sidelined for about three months with a fractured right foot.
15. Brooklyn Nets
2015-16: 21-61. Coming: Jeremy Lin, Randy Foye, Greivis Vasquez, Caris LeVert, Luis Scola, Trevor Booker, Anthony Bennett. Going: Thaddeus Young, Jarrett Jack, Wayne Ellington.
The Nets missed out on a top-five pick because of a 2013 trade for Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Jason Terry from the Celtics. None of those veterans is still around, and the Nets are trying to rebuild without draft picks.