The Brooklyn Nets appear like such a title favourite that James Harden felt the want for a reminder they are not a title crew.

“We’re not the target. The defending champions are the targets,” Harden mentioned. “They won last year. We’re trying to catch them.”

PLAYOFF BOUND

1. Brooklyn – With former MVPs and scoring champions Durant and Harden wholesome, the Nets could not even want a Big Three.

2. Milwaukee – If Antetokounmpo dominates like he did in the NBA Finals, a 3rd MVP award in 4 years is feasible.

3. Miami – Heat by no means discovered their prime kind after reaching NBA Finals in the bubble, however obtained each extra relaxation and extra expertise throughout this longer offseason.

4. Philadelphia – Could be anyplace from 1 with Simmons to eight with out him, so put the 76ers in the center for now.

5. Atlanta – Trae Young and the bettering Hawks are a crew on the rise after reaching the East finals.

6. New York. Added good scoring punch to what was a prime defensive crew in Thibodeau’s first season.

INTO THE PLAY-IN

7. Boston – Getting Al Horford again in inexperienced ought to repay for the Celtics.

8. Chicago – Count on Zach LaVine and Lonzo Ball offering loads of highlights.

9. Indiana – Getting Rick Carlisle right into a locker room that had friction between gamers and coach final season is a significant transfer.

10. Charlotte – Were powerful for anybody final season when Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball and Gordon Hayward have been each wholesome.

FACING LONG ODDS

11. Toronto – Being house once more ought to make Raptors a playoff contender once more, even with out Lowry.

12. Washington – Lost an ideal particular person expertise in Russell Westbrook however may very well be a greater crew with newcomers reminiscent of Spencer Dinwiddie and Kyle Kuzma.

13. Cleveland – Collin Sexton and Darius Garland will shoot them to some wins, simply not fairly sufficient.

14. Detroit – No. 1 choose Cade Cunningham takes his place on a Pistons crew that has some good younger items.

15. Orlando – Magic traded away their greatest gamers final season and could be years away from contending once more.

WHAT TO KNOW

EYES ON EMBIID

Joel Embiid was placing collectively an MVP-type season in Philadelphia final season earlier than he was harm. The 76ers would possibly want him to be nice once more with out understanding what they will get from Simmons.

BETTER BROOKLYN

Durant had little assist when each Harden and Irving have been harm throughout the sequence in opposition to the Bucks. But with the additions of Patty Mills, Paul Millsap, James Johnson and the unretired LaMarcus Aldridge, the Nets look deep sufficient to beat any absences this season.

TOP SEED SLUMP

The 76ers went out in the second spherical final season, making it 5 straight years that the No. 1 seed could not win the East. Cleveland was the final crew to do it, in 2016.

COACHING CHANGES

The 4 groups with new coaches vary from playoff golf equipment to rebuilding ones. Ime Udoka takes over for Brad Stevens in Boston, Carlisle is again for a second stint in Indiana, Wes Unseld Jr. comes house to Washington and Jamahl Mosley will get his change in Orlando.