→ Out West, the Rockets will be a major factor if they stay healthy. The Spurs remain a viable contender but the Western finals will match the Hornets and Lakers. The Mavericks, Suns and Nuggets start to fade while the Jazz and Trail Blazers join the Hornets as young teams on the rise.
→ In the East, the Heat will make the playoffs as the No. 7 seed with a healthy Dwayne Wade and Rookie of the Year Michael Beasley. Boston and Detroit remain the top two powers. Cleveland once again is a playoff force. But the team on the rise is the 76ers, bolstered by the addition of Elton Brand.
→ Finally, the Thunder will rank among the league attendance leaders. The vast majority of games, if not every game, will be a sellout. After 41 roof-lifting Ford Center moments, the No. 1 reason Oklahoma City fans can celebrate is the NBA is back in town. And this time it’s their team.
(Cue AC/DC’s Thunderstruck).