By Tony Andracki & Mark Strotman
Each Monday throughout the regular season, Mark Strotman and Tony Andracki will rank all 30 NBA teams. Below are the first power rankings of the year in advance of the 2012-12 season. Think we're way off? Agree with our picks? Hit us up on Twitter at @BullsTalkCSN with comments or criticisms.
Mark Comments 1
Tony: The best team until somebody dethrones them.
Mark: Defending champs get even better with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis.
Tony: Kobe is going to will this team to come together quickly.
Mark: Best starting lineup in the league, but will bench produce enough?
Tony: Very Dangerous even without Harden. Will Ibaka get it together on O?
Mark: Ginobili's back injury starting to become a concern (will miss opener).
Tony: Will be really fun to watch. Faried will be a monster. Mark: Still the Western champs, but took a small step back losing Harden.
Tony: Established as an annual contender behind CP3.
Mark: Core still strong; Courtney Lee and Jason Terry will help replace Allen.
Tony: Can't ever count them out, despite the aging roster.
Mark: Young, rising team gets better with Iguodala. 7
Tony: Paul George could key Pacers taking the next step.
Mark: Bringing back Hill and Hibbert means Indiana will contend again in East. 8
Tony: Will be in the thick of things again, but no longer a powerhouse.
Mark: Revamped bench (and a healthy Billups) should support star-studded starting lineup.
Tony: Exciting offseason. Will go as far as D-Will takes them.
Mark: The loss of O.J. Mayo hurts, but Conley on the verge of stardom.
Tony: Losing Iguodala was big, but Collins will keep 'em contenders.
Mark: New location, new lineup, new jerseys. But will we see new results?
Tony: RandolphGasol frontcourt will carry this team.
Mark: Deepest frontcourt in the NBA needs production from point guard Mo Williams.
Tony: Thibs will keep their head above water 'til Rose's Return.
Mark: Losing Lou Williams and Iguodala hurts, but Bynum (when healthy) is finally a face to the franchise.
Tony: Is this the year Teague takes the next step? Could be big.
Mark: Ugly start to preseason a thing of the past, and Hinrich appears to have avoided serious injury.
Tony: Dirk's health will determine season.
Mark: With Horford healthy and Lou Williams on board, Hawks could be sneaky contender in East.
Tony: Not sold on them as a contender right now.
Mark: Amar'e will miss six weeks, and point guard (Kidd, Felton) still a question mark.
Tony: Hayward is an intriguing guy. Should be integral part of this team.
Mark: No Dirk for a month leaves questions, but core still in tact.
Tony: Season hinges on how well JenningsEllis share the ball.
Mark: Stephen Curry, Andrew Bogut's health will be a key to the season.
Tony: Nicolas Batum is this year's breakout star.
Mark: Jennings and Ellis form elite backcourt, but frontcourt past Ilyosova must improve.
Tony: Lin, Harden, Omer an interesting Big Three, to say the least.
Mark: Addition of Harden helps, but can Asik and Lin live up to their contracts?
Tony: Health of Curry, Bogut will dictate record.
Mark: Minnesota drops a few spots with Love (hand) and Rubio (ACL) out to start season.
Tony: Will be a team to watch when they get LoveRubio back.
Mark: Damian Lillard, Nicolas Batum and LaMarcus Aldridge are a dynamic core, but they have little help.
Tony: Could surprise people. Monroe is turning into a star.
Mark: The talent is there, but they need an identity...and a defense.
Tony: Like their young pieces. Will they trade Varejao?
Mark: The Steve Nash-less era won't be a fun start, but Suns hoping Marshall can one day be heir apparent.
Tony: Will Valanciunas live up to the hype?
Mark: Anthony Davis is the real deal, but the Hornets are still a couple of years away.
Tony: Year 1 A.N. (After Nash). Is Dragic the answer at PG?
Mark: Addition of Kyle Lowry was a big move, but the Raptors will need help to have chance at No. 8 spot.
Tony: Will Cousins mature into a bonafide star?
Mark: Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe are great 1-2 duo to build around.
Tony: Remember when Eric Gordon played?
Mark: Kyrie Irving has the franchise in good hands, and Dion WaitersTristan Thompson are great supporters.
Tony: Wall's injury a severe blow to a team that should lose often.
Mark: Washington will really struggle until John Wall returns from a knee injury.
Tony: "Rebuilding" year after Dwight. Afflalo a nice get, though.
Mark: Dwight Howard nightmare is finally over, but the Magic got very little in return.
Tony: Should improve on last year's record, but not by much.
Mark: Love Michael Kidd-Gilchrist's upside, but even he can't change the Bobcats' fortunes this year.