10. Denver Nuggets: After a great regular season last year, the Nuggets enter this season with no George Karl, no Andre Iguodala, and no Masai Ujiri. They still have a talented roster, but I expect them to take a big step back in 2014. With a bunch of new faces in Denver, it is hard to know what to expect.
9. Minnesota Timberwolves: You just don’t know how good this team can be until we see Kevin Love, Ricky Rubio and Nikola Pekovic play together for an extended period of time. But add the likes of Kevin Martin and Corey Brewer, plus a decent draft that produced the likes of Gorgui Dieng and Shabazz Muhammad, and Rick Adelman’s team should make a serious run at the playoffs.
8. Dallas Mavericks: While the Mavs didn’t do anything major in free agency again, this team still won 41 games last year with Dirk Nowitzki missing 29 games. With the additions of Jose Calderon, Monta Ellis and many other new faces, this roster should be even stronger than last year’s team.
7. Portland Trail Blazers: The Blazers had a very good starting five a season ago, but one of the worst benches in NBA history. With the additions of rookies Allen Crabbe and C.J. McCollum to go along with new additions: Earl Watson, G Mo Williams, F/G Dorell Wright, Thomas Robinson, C Robin Lopez, and Terrel Harris, the Blazers should have both the depth and the talent to contend for a playoff spot. Assuming the hold onto LaMarcus Aldridge, this team should improve on last season’s 33 wins in a big way.
6. Memphis Grizzlies: New head coach Dave Joerger is under some immediate pressure to keep the Grizzlies heading in the right direction. They didn’t add much in the offseason other than Kosta Koufos, Mike Miller and Nick Calathes but they already have a great core in place and I am very excited about rookie Jamaal Franklin, who could turn out to be the steal of the draft before long.