Previewing the NBA season

How ‘bout that offseason? The most exciting offseason in NBA history has led to the most anticipated NBA season in ages. The opening night matchup of the Celtics and Heat is being reported as the most watched regular season game in the history of the NBA. Needless to say, people are excited. And with my introduction out of the way, let’s get to the rankings!

TIER ONE

1. Los Angeles Lakers

2. Miami Heat

3. Boston Celtics

These are the serious title contenders. While the main storyline of the season will be the coalition of Lebron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh in Miami, it is still yet to be seen if they can handle the two finals teams of last year. Both the Celtics and Lakers match up favorably with the Heat, and they both have major advantages in the size department. And as my grandmother always told me, size matters. Shaquille O’Neal and Nate Robinson spent the offseason playing leapfrog and the Celtics chemistry looks better than ever.

TIER TWO

4. Oklahoma City Thunder

5. Orlando Magic

6. Chicago Bulls

7. Portland Trailblazers

Kevin Durant is the odds-on favorite to win MVP. The Magic were the second best regular season team last year, and once Dwight Howard learns how to do a simple jump hook, he’ll be unstoppable. The Bulls finally added a post threat in Carlos Boozer, and the Trailblazers will be a threat once they’re healthy. But what keeps these teams away from title contention? They’re too likable. Notice how everyone in the world hates all the Tier One teams? Not a coincidence. They are hard-nosed, tough and do not yield to any team in the league. If the Tier Two teams want to contend for a title, they need to be tough.

TIER THREE

8. Dallas Mavericks

9. Milwaukee Bucks

10. Denver Nuggets

11. Atlanta Hawks

12. San Antonio Spurs

13. Houston Rockets

A bunch of nice teams. If Melo gets traded, Denver drops into Tier Four or Tier Five, but as long as he stays they’ll be a staple in the top 10. Rockets general manager Daryl Morey continues to build his team based on his high-tech secret stats, and if the NBA was run on a spreadsheet the Rockets would break the ’96 Bulls record. These are all teams that will average anywhere from 42-52 wins, and won’t make it past the second round unless they make a midseason deal — see: Pau Gasol — or an unproven player steps up and surprises everyone — see: Rodrigue Beaubois.

TIER FOUR

14. Phoenix Suns

15. New Orleans Hornets

16. Utah Jazz

17. Memphis Grizzlies

These are the teams that will be clawing for a playoff spot, and accordingly will be some of the most fun teams to follow in the league. Not to mention we can all watch as the “does Amare need Nash or does Nash need Amare?” is finally settled. The Grizzlies are one of the teams that could easily move up in this list. O.J. Mayo is one of the best players no one talks about in the league, Rudy Gay gets a bad rap for being overpaid but is still a viable No. 2 option and Zach Randolph is the best offensive black hole in the league. If you want to see what’s holding them back, search YouTube for “Zach Randolph ­— Where Will Amazing Happen This Year?”

TIER FIVE

18. Indiana Pacers

19. New York Knicks

20. Golden State Warriors

21. New Jersey Nets

This is my favorite tier. While they might fight for a playoff spot, none are expected to make much noise in the grand scheme of things. But given how awful it was for them last year, their fans should be delighted with the teams they have currently. Even though the Knicks and Nets both missed out on the temptress Lebron, they both should significantly improve this year. The Warriors might end up with the No. 1 offense and the No. 30 defense in the league. They’re that great/horrible.

TIER SIX

22. Los Angeles Clippers

23. Charlotte Bobcats

24. Detroit Pistons

25. Sacramento Kings

26. Philadelphia 76ers

The sweet, sweet smell of mediocrity. While the Clippers, Kings and 76ers have exciting young talent — Blake Griffin, Tyreke Evans and DeMarcus Cousins, Evan Turner and Jrue Holiday — the Pistons and Bobcats are just hovering in “OK.” Unless they think they can contend for the title with a Stephen Jackson/Gerald Wallace nucleus, which is unlikely, it’s time for MJ to shake things up and get some fresh young talent.

TIER SEVEN

27. Cleveland Cavaliers

28. Washington Wizards

29. Minnesota Timberwolves

30. Toronto Raptors

The heartbroken teams. You have to feel for Cleveland and Toronto, especially Toronto, which actually has a great fanbase that loves basketball but is continuously screwed over by their superstars. Cleveland lost Lebron, but the team they have left isn’t as horrible as the media has made it out to be. Mo Williams and Antawn Jamison are both capable players, and J.J. Hickson will turn heads this year. They could crack 30 wins if everything goes their way. The Timberwolves are ripe with high risk/high reward talent, and it’s hard to predict that they’ll all come through — I’m looking at you Darko.

Awards

Most Valuable Player: Kevin Durant

Most Improved Player: J.J. Hickson

6th Man of the Year: Manu Ginobili

Defensive Player of the Year: Josh Smith

Rookie of the Year: Blake Griffin

Coach of the Year: Doc Rivers

All-NBA Teams

1st Team

Chris Paul, Deron Williams, Lebron James, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard

2nd Team

Brandon Roy, Dwyane Wade, Dirk Nowitzki, Carmelo Anthony, Pau Gasol

3rd Team

Rajon Rondo, Monta Ellis, Danny Granger, Tim Duncan, Andrew Bogut