With the 2011-2012 NBA season tipping off, the Boston Globe examines the outlook for all 30 teams:
Last season: 56-26, lost in conference semifinals
Coach: Doc Rivers
Starting five : Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Jermaine O’Neal
Outlook: When your starting lineup is an aggregate of 32.6 years old, there is reason for concern. But the Celtics have enough pure talent and savvy to make a deep run, while team president Danny Ainge bolstered the bench with some astute moves. This team has one more run left in it, and the ride should be enjoyable.
Last season: 42-40, lost in first round.
Coach: Mike D’Antoni
Starting five: Mike Bibby, Toney Douglas, Carmelo Anthony, Amar’e Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler
Outlook: The Knicks are big on star power but don’t have much else after the Big Three. Depending on Bibby is a major mistake and the bench just isn’t good enough to run with the big boys in the Eastern Conference. The Knicks will take another step forward, but the roster needs further remodeling.
Last season: 41-41, lost in first round.
Coach: Doug Collins
Starting five: Jrue Holiday, Evan Turner, Andre Iguodala, Elton Brand, Spencer Hawes
Outlook: The 76ers are going to be trouble for most teams because they are learning to play defense and have several weapons that can score. Turner must experience a breakout season for Philadelphia to reach the next level after a rather uninspiring rookie season. The 76ers could make a push for a top-4 playoff seed.
Last season: 24-58, did not qualify for playoffs.
Coach: Avery Johnson
Starting five: Deron Williams, Anthony Morrow, Damion James, Shelden Williams, Brook Lopez
Outlook: Kris Humphries finally re-signed, but this team is going to struggle. Only Williams and Lopez would start on other NBA teams and they have done so much saving to attract a major free agent that the Nets have ignored addressing other needs. New Jersey will take a step back and then wait to try and catch a superstar in the summer.
Last season: 22-60, did not qualify for playoffs.
Coach: Dwane Casey
Starting five: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson, Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani
Outlook: Hopefully, Raptors management is patient with Casey because this team could be the worst in the league. They have still not replaced Chris Bosh and are relying on youngsters such as DeRozan and Davis to play beyond their years. With no real leader and no real all-star, Toronto hopes its depth and Casey’s defense will win a few games, but not many.
Last season: 62-20, lost in conference finals.
Coach: Tom Thibodeau
Starting five: Derrick Rose, Richard Hamilton, Luol Deng, Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah
Outlook: The Bulls will be expected to get back to the conference finals and perhaps even the NBA finals, but they didn’t do much to improve themselves over the summer besides sign an aging Hamilton. That means all the others will have to improve -- that even means Rose, who was exposed in the Miami series for his questionable decision making. Defensively, this team can play with anybody, and that make be the key to winning it all.
Last season: 37-45, lost in first round.
Coach: Frank Vogel
Starting five: Darren Collison, Paul George, Danny Granger, David West, Roy Hibbert
Outlook: There is hope in Indiana after their first playoff appearance since the Reggie Miller era. And the Pacers used their available cap space to add David West while shedding the contracts of Mike Dunleavy, James Posey and Jamaal Tinsley. With George flourishing as his rookie season progressed, Indiana is young and athletic, but the question is whether they have enough experience to scare any of the Big Three. The answer is still no.
Last season: 35-47, did not qualify for playoffs.
Coach: Scott Skiles
Starting five: Brandon Jennings, Carlos Delfino, Stephen Jackson, Luc Richard Mbah a Moute, Andrew Bogut
Outlook: The Bucks, as usual, need offense and adding Stephen Jackson in a three-team trade helps the toughness and defensive prowess but not the scoring. The Bucks will be a grind-it-out, typical Scott Skiles team that could be good enough for a playoff run but not much else.
Last season: 30-52, did not qualify for playoffs.
Coach: Lawrence Frank
Starting five: Rodney Stuckey, Ben Gordon, Austin Daye, Greg Monroe, Ben Wallace
Outlook: Wallace is the only holdover now from the 2004 title team as the Pistons attempt to start over with some young cornerstones and overpriced free agents (Gordon, Charlie Villanueva), It’s hard to see how the Pistons can make the playoffs because they are so young in key positions but the key is Villanueva, who has done little since signing a five-year deal in 2009.
Last season: 19-63, did not qualify for playoffs.
Coach: Byron Scott
Starting five: Kyrie Irving, Anthony Parker, Omri Casspi, Antawn Jamison, Anderson Varejao
Outlook: The good news for the Cavaliers is Irving appears to be headed for stardom as he starts from Day One away from the shadowed of amnestied Baron Davis. But the bad news is the team is still old and not very good. It will take a few more years for this team to develop, but with Irving and Tristan Thompson, there is still hope.
Last season: 58-24, lost in first round.
Coach: Erik Spoelstra
Starting five: Mario Chalmers, Dwyane Wade, LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Joel Anthony
Outlook: The Heat sought to add more talent to the bench to help the Big Three stay fresh and added Shane Battier, but the regular season is unimportant in South Beach. It’s all about the playoffs and with a new contract Erik Spoelstra will have to exert more control over the team in terms of preparing for a long playoff run. The Heat should be improved.
Last season: 44-38, lost in conference semifinals.
Coach: Larry Drew
Starting five: Jeff Teague, Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, Al Horford
Outlook: Hard to figure out the Hawks’ franchise. Ownership issues prevented the team from being major free-agent players so they kept the core of the team together but didn’t improve much. Teague takes over as the starting point guard and while he has had his moments, the Hawks may not flourish with his inexperience.
Last season: 52-30, lost in first round.
Coach: Stan Van Gundy
Starting five: Jameer Nelson, Jason Richardson, Hedo Turkoglu, Glen Davis, Dwight Howard
Outlook: That cloud hovering over the organization has huge shoulders and a bright smile. But no one knows when the Magic are to implode with Howard requesting a trade and expressing unhappiness in playing near Disneyworld. Orlando can’t help but slip under this type of uncertainty and the Magic will be hard-pressured to win in the first round. It may be time to blow this thing up.
Last season: 23-59, did not qualify for playoffs.
Coach: Flip Saunders
Starting five: John Wall, Nick Young, Rashard Lewis, Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee
Outlook: The Wizards are back to red, white and blue and are trying to adopt a new attitude with essentially the same players. Washington will be improved but the question is whether Flip Saunders is the right coach and can Blatche and McGee focus long enough to fulfill their potential. It will be another season of transition in the nation’s capital.
Last season: 34-48, did not qualify for playoffs.
Coach: Paul Silas
Starting five: Kemba Walker, Gerald Henderson, Corey Maggette, Boris Diaw, DeSagana Diop
Outlook: Once again the Bobcats are basically starting over. The team has yet to sign a major free agent since arriving in 2004 and Walker is immediately the face of the franchise, a lot of pressure on a 21-year-old. This team will struggle but will be fun to watch at times.
Last season: 57-25, won NBA Finals.
Coach: Rick Carlisle
Starting five: Jason Kidd, Vince Carter, Lamar Odom, Dirk Nowitzki, Brendan Haywood
Outlook: Losing Tyson Chandler was significant but Dallas rallied by adding Carter and Odom. The Mavericks are competing with the Celtics for bragging rights at the NBA senior center but they are prepared for one more title run with this current group. Dallas is the favorite in the West but the newcomers have to blend into the system fast to make a smooth transition.
Last season: 46-36, lost in conference semifinals.
Coach: Lionel Hollins
Starting five: Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo, Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, Zach Randolph
Outlook: The Grizzlies’ biggest opponent could be the expectations after upsetting the Spurs in the first round. No one is going to look past Memphis and this is a team that should improve and become a force in the Western Conference. They are a step behind Oklahoma City and will be an exciting team to watch with the high-flying Gay back from shoulder surgery.
Last season: 61-21, lost in first round.
Coach: Gregg Popovich
Starting five: Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili, Richard Jefferson, Tiago Splitter, Tim Duncan
Outlook: The Spurs were the best team in the regular season last year, only to run into the younger legs of the Grizzlies before their playoff ouster. The same thing could happen this season unless Splitter has a breakout season and the players off the bench can provide relief. The core is aging but James Anderson, Gary Neal and Kawhi Leonard are young and hungry. They need to deliver to make the Spurs a contender again.
Last season: 46-36, lost in first round.
Coach: Monty Williams
Starting five: Jarrett Jack, Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza, Emeka Okafor, Chris Kaman,
Outlook: The Hornets are still talented but may be the team hurt the most by the lockout because two-fifths of their starting five are probably still living in hotels. Gordon will use this team to emerge to All-Star status while Jack has been a backup for years and now gets his chance to start.
Last season: 43-39, did not qualify for playoffs.
Coach: Kevin McHale
Starting five: Kyle Lowry, Kevin Martin, Chase Budinger, Luis Scola, Jordan Hill
Outlook: The Rockets have a new coach who is a familiar name but are trying to move on from the Yao Ming era. The problem is they don’t have a legitimate center and will rely on Lowry’s ascension and Scola’s consistency. This team badly needs another piece, but they lost Nene to Denver, so it might not come until next summer.
Los Angeles Lakers
Last season: 57-25, lost in conference semifinals.
Coach: Mike Brown
Starting five: Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Matt Barnes, Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum
Outlook: New coach Mike Brown has quite a responsibility on his hands trying to implement a new system with all the drama of the Chris Paul trade that wasn’t and two players who were in the 1996 draft in his starting lineup. The Lakers’ run of dominance is slowly coming to an end and Brown is banking that players such as Josh McRoberts, Darius Morris and Troy Murphy are enough to give the old guys a break. Kobe Bryant again will carry this team.
Los Angeles Clippers
Last season: 32-50, did not qualify for playoffs.
Coach: Vinny Del Negro
Starting five: Chris Paul, Chauncey Billups, Caron Butler, Blake Griffin, DeAndre Jordan
Outlook: The only thing stopping the Clippers from overtaking the Lakers is chemistry, and that will occur gradually. Paul and Griffin are All-Stars while Billups and Butler have seen better days but are still effective enough to score and defend effectively. Jordan is now the starter and has shown he can dunk and block shots, but he needs to expand his game against other top-notch centers.
Last season: 36-46, did not qualify for playoffs.
Coach: Mark Jackson
Starting five: Stephen Curry, Monta Ellis, Dorell Wright, David Lee, Kwame Brown
Outlook: With new coach Mark Jackson, the Warriors will be more respectable and may even play a little defense. The question is whether Brown can produce defensively after getting a sizeable payday. The bench is young but filled with potential. The Warriors may not make the postseason this time, but they’re laying a foundation for future runs. And it’s an astute plan.
Last season: 24-58, did not qualify for playoffs.
Coach: Paul Westphal
Starting five: Jimmer Fredette, Tyreke Evans, John Salmons, J.J, Hickson, DeMarcus Cousins
Outlook: Fredette will be the Tim Tebow of basketball, where he will have fans who either adore him or despise him. But the Kings wanted that type of attention after being insignificant for so long. The team is improving with Evans and Cousins, but somebody needs to become a star here. Maybe it’s Hickson, who never quite emerged as a consistent scorer in Cleveland.
Last season: 40-42, did not qualify for playoffs.
Coach: Alvin Gentry
Starting five: Steve Nash, Josh Childress, Grant Hill, Channing Frye, Marcin Gortat
Outlook: Hard to figure what the Suns are trying to do here. They have two of the league’s oldest players in their starting lineup with a decent center and two castoffs from other teams. The bench is intriguing with Shannon Brown, Hakim Warrick and Markieff Morris, and maybe that trio should be starting.
Last season: 55-27, lost in conference finals to Dallas.
Coach: Scott Brooks
Starting five: Russell Westbrook, Thabo Sefolosha, Kevin Durant, Serge Ibaka, Kendrick Perkins
Outlook: The pressure is on in OKC as the Thunder set the precedent by reaching the Western Conference finals, and everybody is back – including a slimmed down Perkins – to take on the Mavericks and Lakers. The question is whether the scrap between Westbrook and Durant has been settled. They say yes but their on-court chemistry will show whether they are being honest.
Last season: 48-34, lost in first round to Dallas.
Coach: Nate McMillan
Starting five: Raymond Felton, Wesley Matthews, Gerald Wallace, LaMarcus Aldridge, Marcus Camby
Outlook: You can only wonder what if Brandon Roy had not experienced career-ending knee problems, but there is still enough talent in Portland to produce a solid playoff team. Greg Oden, Nicolas Batum and Jamal Crawford give the Trail Blazers stunning depth, especially in this compacted season. Don’t feel too sorry for McMillan, the Blazers are hardly subjects of sympathy.
Last season: 39-43, did not qualify for playoffs.
Coach: Tyrone Corbin
Starting five: Devin Harris, Gordon Hayward, C.J. Miles, Paul Millsap, Al Jefferson
Outlook: Quietly, the Jazz are getting better and they may make a return to the playoffs if Hayward develops into a weapon and Derrick Favors plays like someone considered for the No. 1 overall pick two summers ago. There is youth in Utah and Corbin gets to prove he is a capable coach in his first full season. It should result in more wins.
Last season: 50-32, lost in first round to Oklahoma City
Coach: George Karl
Starting five: Andre Miller, Rudy Fernandez, Danilo Gallinari, Al Harrington, Nene
Outlook: If anything the Nuggets are going to score a lot of points and run the floor, but how many losses can one team take? With J.R. Smith, Wilson Chandler and Kenyon Martin all signed in China, the Nuggets are a collection of parts and talent with little time to build chemistry. Don’t be surprised if they make a run for that eighth playoff spot.
Last season: 17-65, did not qualify for playoffs
Coach: Rick Adelman
Starting five: Luke Ridnour, Wesley Johnson, Michael Beasley, Kevin Love, Darko Milicic
Outlook: The Timberwolves are a strangely put-together club with a slew of small forwards and point guards and not much else. But they are talented and Rick Adelman will make learning fun with an up-tempo offense that will result in more scoring. But can Minnesota stop anybody? And are they just too young?