The Los Angeles Lakers finished their 2009-10 season the same way they started it — on top of the basketball world, retaining their status as the NBA’s team to beat until someone steps up and snatches it away.
It hasn’t been snatched yet. But there are numerous threats standing in Lakers’ way as they begin their quest for another title — the legendarily remade Heat, the quietly reloaded Celtics, and a deep, dangerous group of Western Conference elites that will test the defending champions all year long.
The bottom of the NBA is just as interesting. Will the Cavaliers ever be the same again without LeBron James? Will the Raptors recover without Chris Bosh? Will the Nets find a way to recover from the atrocity of last season? All good questions.
From top to bottom, the NBA is loaded with intriguing storylines. Here’s a look at how the Association stacks up, from 30 all the way down to one.