The Crossover's NBA preview for all 30 teams includes stats, predictions and much more. 

By The SI Staff
October 21, 2016

The NBA season is right around the corner, as we're less than a week from Oct. 25, when the Cavaliers will get their rings and open the year against the Knicks. Then we'll settle in to watch 1,229 more games, plus the playoffs. Before that, though, we must reflect on what is behind us and look forward to what is ahead. Here, in a comprehensive preview, The Crossover will provide last season's results, this off-seasons big moves and predictions for each team's 2016–17. 

Without further ado, here is The Crossover's preview for all 30 teams.  

Reporting done by Ben Golliver, Rob Mahoney, Andrew Sharp and Rohan Nadkarni.

Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images

Philadelphia 76ers: Record last season: 10-72

Postseason results: None

Additions: Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson, Sergio Rodriguez, Timothe Luwawu, Shawn Long, James Webb III, Cat Barber, Elton Brand, Brandon Paul, Ben Simmons

Subtractions: Ish Smith, Isaiah Canaan, Christian Wood

Biggest move: Drafting Ben Simmons (and Joel Embiid being healthy)

Projected Finish: 14th in the Eastern Conference

Entertainment ranking: Ben Simmons’ preseason foot injury sent Philly’s watchability plummeting. Tantalizing center Joel Embiid can only pick up some of the slack because he’s stuck on a minutes limit. — Ben Golliver

Preseason Power Ranking: 29. Hope for Joel Embiid is the difference between last and almost-last. — Jeremy Woo

One number: 948. Joel Embiid finally arrived. The No. 3 pick of the 2014 draft suited up for the 76ers on Oct. 4, Embiid’s first basketball game in 948 days, since he was at Kansas. Not only did the 7-foot Embiid play, but he also played well, showing that his skills didn’t erode while he was sidelined with foot injuries. But just as Embiid came back, another young star exited in Philadelphia: Top pick Ben Simmons suffered a Jones fracture in his right foot and isn’t likely to see the court for several months.

As welcome as Embiid’s return is, it does create one problem: Even with Simmons out, Philadelphia has a glut of highly touted (and highly drafted) big men. Nerlens Noel, 22, is a defensive presence off the bench, but his lack of shooting should rule him out as a power forward. Jahlil Okafor, 21, is a poor defender but an elite low-post scorer, which might make him the most likely big man to be moved. And rookie Dario Šarić, 22, has shown the potential to be a solid stretch four.

Before making a move, the Sixers can allow coach Brett Brown to try different frontcourt combinations in what will no doubt be another losing season. But if the 22-year-old Embiid stays healthy—and continues to flash the talent that made him such an exciting prospect—they can call 2016–17 a qualified success. — Rohan Nadkarni

Scouting report:  I think they want to start Jahlil Okafor at power forward and Nerlens Noel at center, but it’s not gonna work. Okafor has to have the block; he’s as good a low-post scorer as there is in the league, but his defense is a glaring flaw. Noel can’t shoot, so his [baskets] are going to come around the rim. It’s going to be a hard, hard match to make work. . . . Joel Embiid is such an unknown too. Everybody says he’s really good, but he’s had two foot injuries, and what’s to say he’s not going to have another one? I have to believe that in the first third of the season, they trade one of their three bigs. It will probably be Noel. He can defend but he’s ­really light in the ass—very thin. Maybe it’s to Boston for a wing player. Philadelphia is just so bad in the ­backcourt. . . . ­Another thing: If Dario Šarić is as good as they say he is as a stretch big, he’s gonna need minutes, too. . . . ­Obviously Ben ­Simmons is going to be a star once he recovers from his [right] foot injury. He’s got guard skills and his vision is incredible for his size [6' 10"]. He’s a great passer, not a very good shooter. He will guard the threes and will do a lot of three stuff, but I can see them playing him at point guard to hide his lack of ­scoring. . . . There are mostly stopgaps on the ­perimeter. ­Gerald ­Henderson improves their backcourt, but he’s not long-term. Jerryd ­Bayless will probably start but he’s not long-term. ­Sergio ­Rodriguez has never had much success in the NBA. T.J. ­McConnell, I don’t like at all. Nik Stauskas has done nothing since he came into the league.

Bottom line: Process this: The engaging Sixers are no longer the worst team in the league.

Gary Dineen/Getty Images

Milwaukee Bucks: Record last season: 33-49

Postseason results: None

Additions: Mirza Teletovic, Matthew Dellavedova, Michael Beasley, Jason Terry, Malcolm Brogdon, Orlando Johnson, Thon Maker, J.J. O'Brien, Jaleel Roberts

Subtractions: O.J. Mayo, Greivis Vasquez, Steve Novak, Jerryd Bayless, Johnny O'Bryant, Damien Inglis

Biggest move: Trading for Matthew Dellavedova

​Projected finish: 10th in the Eastern Conference

Entertainment ranking: 23. Look for the oft-hyped Giannis Antetokounmpo to make his first All-Star team this season. Unfortunately, his supporting cast doesn’t really accentuate his strengths, and losing Khris Middleton to injury only made it worse. — Ben Golliver

Preseason power ranking: 22. No Middleton stings, but there’s plenty of promise. This just doesn’t feel like the year everything works. — Jeremy Woo

One number: 18.9. Giannis Antetokounmpo was the talk of the NBA after the All-Star break. That’s when Jason Kidd moved him to point guard, where at 6' 11", he averaged 18.8 points, 8.6 rebounds, 7.2 assists and 1.9 blocks. (In September, he signed a four-year, $100 million contract.)

But if the Greek Freak is officially the team’s cornerstone, then 2014 No. 2 pick Jabari Parker showed he is a substantial building block. As he recovered from a left-ACL injury that cut his rookie season short, the 6' 8" forward also blossomed after the All-Star break: Parker lifted his average from 11.3 points to 18.9, giving Milwaukee a legitimate offensive threat on the wing.

Parker’s scoring spiked as his stroke became more reliable. As he continues to build his game out to the perimeter, he can become an übersmooth throwback scorer next to the Bucks’ futuristic point forward.

Milwaukee will struggle without the shooting of Khris Middleton, who is out until at least the All-Star break with a torn left hamstring. Making the playoffs will be tricky. Antetokounmpo will undoubtedly be a bright spot, and if Parker can grow alongside him, it won’t matter that the present is complicated. The future is bright. — Andrew Sharp

Scouting report: It is very unfortunate for them that Khris Middleton got hurt [out at least five months with a torn left hamstring]. I don’t know if he’s as good as some of the advanced metrics rate him, but what is clear is that the Bucks are terrible when he’s not on the floor—nowhere near a competent NBA team. . . . Hot take for you: Giannis Antetokounmpo is going to average, like, 19 points, eight rebounds and seven assists, and make the All-Star Game. And the team’s gonna stink. . . . The Michael Carter-Williams situation is obviously a disaster. He still can’t shoot; he needs the ball. In a lot of ways he is just a very poor man’s Giannis, this tall guy who wants to dribble. And when Giannis is your franchise player, uh, that’s not very -useful. . . . Jabari Parker can’t shoot threes, and neither can Giannis, and it’s really hard to play with more than two guys who can’t. So, if they’re gonna play Giannis and Jabari, they should use Mirza Teletovic as a de facto center, since he can shoot threes, and he’s kind of strong. . . . But it’ll be hard for them to do that lineup because they have, literally, $40 million per season tied up in [centers] Greg Monroe, Miles Plumlee and John Henson. Are you really going to sit all three of those guys? . . . [First-round pick] Thon Maker plays really hard, he’s pretty mobile, but he has very little feel for the game and poor strength. He can’t make shots at game speed yet. I hope they’re not expecting him to play. . . . It’s hard to figure out how the team makes sense as currently constructed. Jason Kidd’s had a lot of influence in personnel moves, and I don’t think that’s been a good thing.

Bottom line: A return to the playoffs is likely a year away. But what a fun year it will be.

Randy Belice/Getty Images

Chicago Bulls: Record last season: 42-40

Postseason results: None

Additions: Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade, Robin Lopez, Isaiah Canaan, Denzel Valentine, Jerian Grant, Spencer Dinwiddie, Paul Zipser, J.J. Avila, Thomas Walkup, D. Smith-Rivera

Subtractions: Pau Gasol, Joakim Noah, Aaron Brooks, E'Twaun Moore, Derrick Rose, Justin Holiday, Jose Calderon, Mike Dunleavy, Cameron Bairstow

Biggest move: Signing Dwyane Wade

Projected finish: 11th in the Eastern Conference 

Entertainment ranking: There’s a Jenga-like vibe to a foundation built on Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler. Cramped spacing, bouts of lackadaisical defense and an abundance of healthy egos should send this crashing down eventually. — Ben Golliver

Power ranking: 18. Chicago shouldn’t be fooling anyone into thinking that was a great off-season, but it was…different. Excuse me while I change my ringtone to the sound of cacophonous clanking rims. — Jeremy Woo

One number: 44.5%. They have bigger names than Nikola Mirotic. Dwyane Wade is a future Hall of Famer, Jimmy Butler is a perennial All-Star, and Rajon Rondo is one of the most perplexing NBA stars of the past decade. Throwing those three into the same backcourt mix may lead to wildly divergent results from night to night.

Will the stars work together? Can anyone shoot? Will second-year coach Fred Hoiberg have a breakdown by February? All relevant questions that have been asked since July in Chicago.

But for this year and beyond, the player who holds the key to those answers is the 6' 10" Mirotic, a third-year forward.

His shooting ability creates space on the floor, which the Bulls will badly need. The only uncertainty is the consistency with which he connects. After an uneven rookie year in which he made 31.6% of his three-pointers but showed promise, he was supposed to be a breakout star last season. Mirotic proceeded to shoot just 30.4% from deep in November and December. But in March and April, Mirotic improved his accuracy to 44.5%. It was like watching two different players. If Mirotic can be closer to that second version, it will help the offense breathe—and make the Bulls much scarier this winter than they looked this summer. — Andrew Sharp

Scouting report: I feel really bad for [second-year coach] Fred Hoiberg. He’s a great guy. He left Iowa State; he was the Mayor. And now he’s gotta coach this debacle. . . . Even when he was coaching in college, I didn’t get the sense that he was seeing the game at an elite level, reacting and adjusting the way that Brad Stevens or Rick Carlisle does. I’m not sure he has that skill. But I do think he’s got a good idea of how he wants to play and how to find an identity for his teams. . . . They’re not gonna be horrible, but their three key guys—-Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo and Jimmy Butler—prefer not to shoot off the catch. They like to dribble, they like to hold the ball, stop the ball. It’s going to be hard to coax ball movement. Once they start taking some L’s, I think they’re gonna bump heads a little bit. . . . Butler sees himself as a star. He wants the ball in iso, which is O.K. if he’s the go-to creator. But I do think a good coach would get him to consider catching the ball on the move more. Butler’s very effective at what he does, he still defends most nights, but he’s not a good fit with this team. . . . Rondo and Wade are very undisciplined defensively. They gamble a lot. They take shortcuts. . . . Nikola Mirotic is one saving grace. He takes some weird shots, but he can shoot, he can pass. They need him to play a lot of minutes alongside those other guys to give them enough space to operate. . . . Bobby Portis will be a good player, but he’s pretty lost right now. Arkansas plays really unstructured basketball, so he didn’t get a lot of understanding of NBA offensive or defensive concepts.

Bottom line: They took big risks, but there’s a chance those bets pay off better than expected.
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Cleveland Cavaliers: Record last season: 57-25

Postseason results: NBA Champions, defeated Warriors in NBA finals, 4-3.

Additions: Mike Dunleavy, Chris Andersen, Markel Brown, Kay Felder, DeAndre Liggins, Toney Douglas, Cory Jefferson, John Holland, Jonathan Holmes

Subtractions: Matthew Dellavedova, Timofey Mozgov, Sasha Kaun

Biggest move: Re-signing LeBron James

Projected finish: NBA Finals runner-up

Entertainment ranking: 2. LeBron James and Kyrie Irving are scintillating in their own right. But the must-see factor is magnified by a made-for-Hollywood reality: Cleveland is the only thing standing between Golden State and the title. — Ben Golliver

Power ranking: 2. This is admittedly a slight, but think positive: thanks to Golden State, Cleveland has to be under less pressure for a title repeat than any team pretty much ever.

One number: 25.2. As long as the Cavs have LeBron James, the baseline expectation is that they reach the Finals. But it was Kyrie Irving who surprised the world against the Warriors last June. He outplayed Steph Curry for two weeks. He exploded for 41 points in Game 5 to help turn the Finals upside down. He finished off Game 7 with a pull-up three over Curry to win the title. All told, Irving scored 25.2 points per game in the playoffs. What if that was just the beginning?

James came back to Cleveland in the summer of 2014 for myriad reasons, but Irving’s presence was near the top of the list. At the time, Irving was 22 and an All-Star, but he had plenty of room to grow. At 24 he still does. Last spring was a level we’d never seen before from Irving—better shooting, perfectly picking his spots, bailing out Cleveland over and over again in the half-court.

LeBron—who just finished his 11th season of at least 2,700 minutes—will need help as he navigates the next six months. And come June he’ll need another superhero to have a shot against the Golden State Death Star. Irving played that role for two months. Let’s see if he can do it for a whole season. — Andrew Sharp

Scouting report: Ty Lue did a nice job. He’ll be better this year than he was last year, when there were definitely growing pains. Ty’s always had a great ability to command the respect of his peers and his teammates, and now his players. LeBron James respects him. Kyrie Irving respects him. They have a lot of good players, and he got them to try on defense and to share the ball. ... Kevin Love is making it work in a difficult situation for him. They were probably going to trade him this summer, but then they won, and he played decently and had that great defensive stand on the key possession [in Game 7 of the Finals]. But Kevin was very unhappy last year; I expect he’ll be pretty unhappy this year. He’s still a very good player despite some -limitations. .. I see Kyrie continuing to be a brilliant offensive player. His defense is -really bad, and without Matthew Dellavedova [who signed with the Bucks] to push him, it might be even worse. His great ability is that he can create his own shot and score at the rim, pretty much at will. In a key situation, like in the -Finals, that’s really valuable. ... In the regular season, if LeBron’s resting or out, they’ll struggle a little. Kyrie does not make his teammates better the same way LeBron does. He doesn’t defend with enough effort. ... Who knows what’s going on with Iman Shumpert? He really struggled in the playoffs. And he just seems to have a lot of weird stuff going on, in -general. ... Nobody in the East can seriously threaten them when it matters. But I don’t see them being anywhere near the caliber of the Warriors.

Bottom line: It’s crazy to bet against the Warriors, but if the Cavs are clicking, betting against them isn’t much easier.

Brian Babineau/Getty Images

Boston Celtics: Record last season: 48-34

Postseason results: Lost to Hawks in first round, 4-2.

Additions: Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, Gerald Green, Demetrius Jackson, Ben Bentil, Marcus Georges-Hunt, Jalen Jones, Damion Lee

Subtractions: Jared Sullinger, Evan Turner

Biggest move: Signing Al Horford

Projected finish: Second in Eastern Conference

Entertainment ranking: 6. The East’s top competition for the Cavaliers has every base covered: Isaiah Thomas sparks a solid attack, Al Horford plugs in perfectly to an elite defense, and Brad Stevens rounds it out with superior game management. — Ben Golliver

Power Ranking: 6. Al Horford may or may not get them over the top, but the Celtics are in their best all-around shape in years. — Jeremy Woo

One number: 34.6. They have a young, defensively tenacious team that seems tailor-made for the modern NBA. The only problem? They struggle to make shots. Boston hit just 34.6% of its catch-and-shoot threes last season, second-worst behind the hapless Lakers. Simply put, the Celtics have a bunch of three-and-D guys who haven’t quite grasped the three part yet.

The biggest improvements need to come from Jae Crowder and Marcus Smart. The 6' 6" Crowder shot 33.6% from deep, which means he’s close to becoming a reliable stretch option. He’s otherwise skilled on offense and so good defensively that a three-point stroke would likely make him an All-Star. Smart is arguably the team’s best defender behind Avery Bradley, but he shot a ghastly 25.3% from beyond the arc last year.

Bradley can serve as a model for his teammates. He’s increased his volume of outside shots in each of his six seasons and for the most part has maintained his efficiency, putting up a solid 36.0% career mark. If Crowder can be that accurate and Smart can surpass 30%, Boston could have an offense to match its top five defense. And that would put the defending champs on notice. — Rohan Nadkarni

Scouting report: Al Horford is a really, really big upgrade for them. He’s a little older [30] and has a few more miles on his legs, but he fits the way they want to play. He’ll improve their defense and he’s also an offensive threat—not so much in the post, but in the pick-and-roll. He’s a good 18-foot shooter, a playmaking center. They didn’t have that in Jared Sullinger [who is now with Toronto]. . . . I think Amir Johnson will start, but they have the option of moving Jae Crowder to the four and playing Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley and Isaiah Thomas together as a small team that’ll be really good defensively. That’s a great option. . . . Thomas has a great ability to get into the lane and use his body. He’s only about 5' 9", but he’s got long arms with big hands, big shoulders and he can really challenge the bigs. I’m always amazed at some of the stuff he can do when he takes it to the rim. And he’s a knock-down pull-up shooter. . . . If Smart improves his shooting he can be the player that everybody thinks he can be. That’s always going to be his Achilles’ heel. He’s strong, great size for a point guard, really can defend. If he comes out [playing] well, there are a lot of options they have with that loaded backcourt—I mean in the way they play and also in assets to make a trade with their high picks. . . . Crowder has to take another step. He’s a good player and can lock down threes but I’m not convinced that he is their small forward of the future. [Rookie] Jaylen Brown, maybe, will be. . . . Brown will play. He’s not a very good shooter, but because he’s good defensively and he can run and has good size [6' 7"], he’ll get minutes.

Bottom Line: Anything short of a conference finals berth would be a disappointment.

Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Los Angeles Clippers: Record last season: 53-29

Postseason results: Lost to Trail Blazers in First Round, 4-2.

Additions: Raymond Felton, Marreese Speights, Brandon Bass, Alan Anderson, Xavier Munford, Dorell Wright, Diamond Stone, Brice Johnson

Subtractions: Jeff Green, Cole Aldrich, Jeff Ayres, Pablo Prigioni, Branden Dawson, C.J. Wilcox

Biggest move: Re-signing Jamal Crawford

Projected finish: 4. Third in the Western Conference

Entertainment ranking: 3. Don’t get too hung up on feelings of déjà vu. The “same old Clippers” still have superstar talent, superb inside-outside balance, and high-level chemistry honed over hundreds of games together. — Ben Golliver

Power ranking: 4. Maybe this is the last ride for the enigma formerly known as Lob City, and at this point, sky-high expectations are valid. — Jeremy Woo

One number: 36. There was a time not long ago when Blake Griffin dunked with such regularity that the nightly highlight shows would have run out of time showing his best aerial assaults. In 2011–12, for example, Griffin threw down nearly three times per game, and dunks accounted for more than 20% of his shot attempts.

Those days are over. The world’s most famous Kia hurdler had just 36 dunks last season in his 35 games. (Griffin missed time with multiple injuries and for a four-game suspension after punching a team employee.)

His dunk rate has actually declined for four straight seasons as his scoring opportunities have shifted to the perimeter. In ’15–16, nearly 46% of his shots were long twos; even a mid-range maestro such as LaMarcus Aldridge has never devoted so many attempts to such shots. Although Griffin’s move to the elbow has cut into his efficiency and shooting numbers, the Clippers have compensated by increasing his role as a distributor and taking advantage of the extra space around the basket for DeAndre Jordan. The real hope, though, is that the perimeter approach will lead to less wear and tear, making for a healthier Griffin in the postseason—where he’s never advanced past the second round. — Ben Golliver

Scouting report: The biggest question with them is always, Who are they in the playoffs? Something always goes wrong—they always crack when it matters. They’re hoping that other teams will fall apart so they can have their day, but that’s a tough strategy in the West. Good luck. . . . We’ve been spoiled by Chris Paul’s greatness during the regular season, but how much of it has transferred to [success in] the playoffs? That’s where he’s at right now in his career and where they’re at as a team. He’s getting passed by some of these younger point guards. I’d rather have Steph Curry, Russell Westbrook or Damian Lillard. . . . Even during the regular season spot-up shooters like J.J. Redick work so hard to get a shot off. Now it’s the playoffs, and you have extra time to scout their pet plays, better effort across the board defensively, and it’s even harder for Redick to make a big impact. . . . If you take his health questions out of the mix, Blake Griffin is the best power forward right now, just ahead of LaMar-cus Aldridge. He can shoot, he’s a playmaker, he can handle the ball and make decisions. But Griffin has barely played since last Christmas. . . . DeAndre Jordan can be a championship center because he’s so elite defensively. He keeps making incremental improvements offensively, and they tweaked the Hack-a-Shaq rule, which could help him. . . . Luc Mbah a Moute was a nice find. He gives some defensive balance to their first unit, and he doesn’t need shots. They’re one of the teams that can start two bigs. Playing Mbah a Moute with Jordan and Griffin gives them a lot of length and size.

Bottom Line: Stop us if you’ve heard this before: They’ll have a 50-win season and watch the Finals on TV.

Joe Murphy/Getty Images

Memphis Grizzlies: Record last season: 42-40

Postseason results: Lost to Spurs in First Round, 4-0.

Additions: Chandler Parsons, Wade Baldwin, James Ennis, Troy Daniels, Deyonta Davis, Tony Wroten, D.J. Stephens, Wayne Selden Jr., Troy Williams, Chris Crawford, Vince Hunter

Subtractions: Lance Stephenson, Chris Andersen, Matt Barnes, P.J. Hairston, Jordan Farmar, Bryce Cotton, Xavier Munford

Biggest move: Re-signing Mike Conley

Projected finish: Seventh in the Western Conference

Entertainment ranking: 20. Although moving Zach Randolph to the bench is a good start, the Grizzlies don’t seem to have the personnel or the depth to pull off a long-delayed transition to small ball in one season. — Ben Golliver

Power ranking: 10. Assuming Marc Gasol’s full health, the Grizz have the experience and talent to stay afloat in the Western pack. Health, however, has not been kind to Memphis of late. — Jeremy Woo

One number: 28. How rampant were injuries in Memphis last season? The Grizzlies suited up 28 players, an NBA record—almost enough to fill two rosters. Simply put, the Grizz need good health above all this season.

The player whose well-being will be most important is Marc Gasol. The 7' 1", 255-pound center appeared in only 52 games in 2015–16 but still finished third on the team in total minutes, a sign of just how bad things were. Gasol is one of the best centers in the league when healthy, combining a feathery jumper with physical D on the block.

Under rookie coach David Fizdale, Gasol, a gifted passer, can also help facilitate a more modern offense. Fizdale, 42, is a disciple of Erik Spoelstra, who’s a staunch believer in spreading the floor. This year the Grizzlies—who ranked 27th in threes made—may finally have the roster to do just that. They acquired youngsters Troy Daniels (a career 43.0% shooter from three) and James Ennis (37.3%), but the real difference maker will be Chandler Parsons, who signed a four‑year, $94 million free-agent deal. Parsons, 27, can unlock all kinds of lineup flexibility for Fizdale—if his right-knee issues don’t act up. Needless to say, such concerns will be a recurring theme in Memphis. — Rohan Nadkarni

Scouting report: They have a new coach, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about David Fizdale as a person. Players love him, people that work with him love him. But nobody has told me that he’s a brilliant coach. . . . Their team is kind of a house of cards right now. They have some good players—obviously Marc Gasol, Mike Conley, they signed Chandler Parsons. So on paper they have a chance to be better than they were last year. But all three of those guys have significant injury histories. That could really blow up in their face. . . . If they get something 37 minutes a game, 80 games each—they’re in great shape. But they won’t. . . . They just don’t have much quality depth: Tony Allen, Vince Carter, Brandan Wright. They drafted Wade Baldwin, but he’s probably not ready to play. The biggest concern I had with him in the draft is that he can be sort of hard-headed and difficult. Not the easiest guy to coach, not super mature. That’s one big advantage the Grizz have with Fizdale there. Guys love playing for him and want to go to war for him. . . . JaMychal Green is secretly O.K., but their bench is a problem even if there are no injuries. . . . Zach Randolph is coming pretty close to the end at this point. For 20 minutes a game scoring on other teams’ bench units, he’s still effective. But against good players in extended minutes, Z-Bo just can’t do it. . . . It’s hard to know with Gasol and Conley. They could easily have another few great years, but they’re both coming off leg injuries that could either have them fall off in their level of play or miss more games.

Bottom Line: The talent is there for a run at 50 wins. But will it be on the floor often enough?

Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

Atlanta Hawks: Record last season: 48-34

Postseason results: Lost to Cavs in second round, 4-0.

Additions: Dwight Howard, Jarrett Jack, Taurean Prince, DeAndre' Bembry, Malcolm Delaney, Matt Costello, Will Bynum, Ryan Kelly, Josh Magette

Subtractions: Al Horford, Kirk Hinrich, Lamar Patterson, Jeff Teague

Biggest move: Signing Dwight Howard

Projected finish: Sixth in the Eastern Conference

Entertainment ranking: 18. The loss of mainstays Al Horford and Jeff Teague could trigger an identity crisis. Dwight Howard brings name recognition, but his explosiveness and likeability have both withered badly since his Orlando peak. — Ben Golliver

Preseason power ranking: 11. We waited a while for Dennis Schröder unleashed, but nobody expected a side of Dwight Howard. With Paul Millsap set for free agency, it’s a pivotal transition year in Atlanta. — Jeremy Woo

One number: 6.1. Coach Mike Budenholzer has a strong aversion to low-post play. Atlanta had just 6.1 post-up possessions per game last season, fifth-fewest in the NBA. And many of those happened accidentally: Paul Millsap backing down an undersized opponent, or Al Horford putting up a hook shot off a deep catch. There were seldom any programmed post operations—the sort of offense that new center Dwight Howard has come to depend on.

Coaches who’ve failed to indulge Howard’s desire for paint touches have risked his becoming less engaged. That was especially true in Houston, where his field goal attempts dwindled in each of the last three seasons—down to 8.5 per game in 2015–16—and his effectiveness declined.

Style changes are inevitable for a team transitioning from Horford, who left for Boston, to Howard, 30, who signed a three-year, $75 million deal. But it’s hard to imagine that Budenholzer, who prefers to string multiple actions into a fluid offense, will compromise and feature Howard in the post. Still, it might be worth it for the Hawks to appease the big man with some rolls to the rim and dribble handoffs. Even with his back problems, a motivated Howard can be a vital interior defender, rebounder and finisher. — Rob Mahoney

Scouting report: "I can’t imagine Mike Budenholzer changing the way he plays. I love it—swinging the ball, pushing it, getting a lot of possessions, unselfishness. But Dwight Howard wants to plant himself in the post. He’s not a threat like Al Horford was from the perimeter, but he’s going to want touches. Horford and Paul Millsap were always facing the basket. Atlanta only on occasion threw the ball into the post. I don’t know how well it’s going to work. . . . What they gave up trading Jeff Teague is ball movement. Dennis Schroder is more of a pounder; the ball’s going to be in his hands and he’s going to be looking for his own. Teague was really good at pick-and-roll, spacing the floor, drive-and-kick. Last year they underachieved, so maybe they thought they needed to make changes. . . . Kyle Korver is 35. I see him probably taking another half-step back like he did last season. He played better with Teague, too. He will be spotting up somewhere and Schroder won’t find him. With Korver’s age, Tim Hardaway Jr. should have a chance to prove himself. . . . When I watched Kent Bazemore play, I fell in love with him. He’s improved his three-point shooting, he’s athletic and he’s really good defensively. I mean real good. He can lock you down with his length and quickness. . . . Tiago Splitter is a big body who can make an open shot, but he struggles to guard the quicker fives. Horford was really good at that—getting out to the pick-and-pops, rotations—and it’s where both Splitter and Howard will struggle. . . . When they have to go to the bench, it’s a weakness."

Bottom line: Significant changes to the starting lineup will force the Hawks to evolve—​for better or worse. 

Issac Baldizon/Getty Images

Miami Heat: Record last season: 48-34

Postseason results: Lost to Raptors in the second round, 4-3.

Additions: Dion Waiters, Derrick Williams, Wayne Ellington, Willie Reed, James Johnson, Luke Babbitt, Rodney McGruder

Subtractions: Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Joe Johnson, Luol Deng, Gerald Green, Amar'e Stoudemire, Dorell Wright

Biggest move: Losing Dwyane Wade

Projected finish: 12th in Eastern Conference

Entertainment ranking: 18. The loss of mainstays Al Horford and Jeff Teague could trigger an identity crisis. Dwight Howard brings name recognition, but his explosiveness and likeability have both withered badly since his Orlando peak. — Ben Golliver

Preseason power ranking: 11. We waited a while for Dennis Schröder unleashed, but nobody expected a side of Dwight Howard. With Paul Millsap set for free agency, it’s a pivotal transition year in Atlanta. — Jeremy Woo

One number: 1. LeBron James returned home, Dwyane Wade left his adopted city, and Chris Bosh found himself effectively barred from the team he thought had become his. So ends the Big Three era in Miami—one of the glitziest intersections of talent in NBA history. Only one player from the Heat’s two title teams is likely to play for them this season: deep reserve Udonis ­Haslem.

Everything in the league changes; almost everyone moves on. Bosh’s departure, though, is particularly sad and cruel. Because of blood clots that have put the remainder of his career in serious jeopardy, Miami effectively cut ties with the 11-time All-Star big man. (He believes he can still play and says he intends to.) That this came so soon after Wade’s surprising exit for Chicago has thrust the Heat into a sudden transition. Their fate now precariously lies with Goran Dragic, Hassan Whiteside and Justise ­Winslow—none of whom is a particularly convincing franchise ­player.

Of that trio, the 27-year-old Whiteside is the most capable—and the most unpredictable. Relying on such a player is dangerous given how the roster has been stripped down—not only of its talent, but also its leadership and experience. — Rob Mahoney

Scouting report: "They got hit pretty hard with [the loss of] Chris Bosh [to blood clots] and Dwyane Wade [to the Bulls]. They do have, I think, one of the best coaches in Erik Spoelstra. He’ll keep them focused and playing really good defense. But can they score enough? I don’t think so. . . . Their two primary options are Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside. Talentwise, Dragic is as good as there is in the division. He’s got great size, he can shoot from the outside, he can take it to the rim. He’s got to have a breakout season for them to even be competitive. . . . A big part of Whiteside’s success has come from his attitude. He was looking for a contract. He got it and did all the right things. He’s pretty good with his back to the basket, and he’s just gonna keep getting better offensively. . . . I’m not real high on Justise Winslow. His only strength is taking it to the basket, and then transition. He’s not a good shooter at all. He lacks confidence, he lacks technique, he lacks a lot of things. . . . Their roster is so thin. Udonis Haslem is more of a cheerleader now. Derrick Williams—ehhh, I don’t really care. Josh McRoberts can spread the floor, make threes and he’s a smart player. But he’s a backup who’ll be pushed into Bosh’s role. . . .  Unless they can run and get a lot of possessions, they won’t score very much. Dion Waiters can score. I think he’s just too inconsistent. . . .  Josh Richardson was a great pickup. He can play the one or the two, he’s got size [6' 6"], he’s athletic. He and Tyler Johnson are two-way players. Both will be on the floor for them a lot."

Bottom line: Their first post-LeBron team won 37 games—a total the post-Wade-and-Bosh squad would welcome. 
Kent Smith/Getty Images

Charlotte Hornets: Record last year: 48-34

Postseason results: Lost to Heat in the first round, 4-3.

Additions: Ramon Sessions, Roy Hibbert, Marco Belinelli, Brian Roberts, Christian Wood, Mike Tobey, Rasheed Sulaimon, Andrew Andrews, Treveon Graham, Perry Ellis

Subtractions: Troy Daniels, Jeremy Lin, Courtney Lee, Al Jefferson, Tyler Hansbrough, Jorge Gutierrez

Biggest move: Signing Nicolas Batum

​Projected Finish: Fifth in Eastern Conference

Entertainment ranking: 22. Kemba Walker’s career year, fueled by better spacing around him, keyed a much-improved offense. Will that progress continue after Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams cashed in this summer? — Ben Golliver

Preseason power ranking: 13. Steve Clifford appears to have built something sustainable, but the Hornets will demand a lot from a veteran core to scrape at 50 wins again. Do they have another gear? — Jeremy Woo

One Number: 3. Their biggest off-season moves weren’t acquisitions but retentions. Charlotte brought Nicolas Batum back on a five-year, $120 million contract to facilitate the offense. Marvin Williams, who was a revelation last year at power forward, signed a four-year deal worth $54.5 million.

But the price of holding on to the pair was high. The  Hornets ­couldn’t afford to retain guards Jeremy Lin and Courtney Lee, and—in a decision that was as much stylistic as ­financial—they let low-post scorer Al Jefferson sign with the Pacers. Each of those three key lost rotation players will largely be replaced by budget pickups (point guard Ramon Sessions and center Roy Hibbert) or internal reorganization (shooting guard Jeremy Lamb and center Spencer Hawes).

Charlotte will benefit from the return of Michael Kidd-­Gilchrist, who played just seven games last season due to a shoulder injury. But Batum and Kemba Walker are already coming off career years; it’s unreasonable to expect them to do more with less talent around them. Following a season in which they improved by 15 wins, a touch of regression is likely. Charlotte simply doesn’t have the same resources, no matter how Steve Clifford might try to make ends meet. — Rob Mahoney

Scouting report: "I’m leaning toward the Hornets to win the division, but they actually took a half-step backward. [Departed free-agent guards] Jeremy Lin and Courtney Lee had great years, and [departed free-agent center] Al Jefferson was a guy you could rely on to score. . . . Can Kemba Walker get much better? I don’t think he even needs to. If he consistently has the kind of year he had last year, they’ll be good. . . . Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is excellent defensively but really limited offensively. Steve Clifford has always emphasized defense and built his team around it. . . . A big part of it was that they changed the way they played. When ­Jefferson was playing with his butt on the post, they were throwing it in and cutting off. That’s not Kemba’s game. Kemba needs a high pick. Then they installed Cody Zeller. Walker had his best games when Zeller was on the floor and they were running pick-and-roll while spacing the floor. . . . Marvin Williams did what he was supposed to do: plant himself in the corner and make threes. He earned himself a nice contract. As long as he can find space, he’s gonna make shots. . . . Why are they bringing Marco Belinelli in? They must not be high on Jeremy Lamb. You see flashes with Lamb, then he disappears. It seems like he doesn’t have a strong motor, even though he has good skills. . . . As he gets stronger, Frank Kaminsky’s asset will be his shooting—being able to stretch the floor as a four. He’s not a center—he has small shoulders, he’s thin, he doesn’t have the strength. Once he starts making shots, he’ll be pretty good for them."

Bottom line: Big losses mean they won't stand out from the crowded pack in the middle of the East.  

Melissa Majchrzak/Getty Images

Utah Jazz: Record last season: 40-42

Postseason results: None

Additions: George Hill, Joe Johnson, Boris Diaw, Joel Bolomboy, Henry Sims

Subtractions: Trey Burke, Trevor Booker

Biggest move: Trading for George Hill

Projected finish: Sixth in the Western Conference

Entertainment ranking: 11. Their stylistic nonconformity—big, imposing and intentionally slow—is welcome in a league filled with Wannabe Warriors. A strong summer spent adding experience and depth sets up a long-awaited playoff push.. — Ben Golliver

Preseason Power Ranking: 8. “Sleeper” is a familiar and easily applicable sports trope. Oftentimes, we all have the same sleeper, which renders that sleeper no longer a sleeper. That’s where we’re at with the 2016-17 Utah Jazz, who have parlayed good health, young talent and savvy veteran pickups into a glittery outlook and potential to be pleasantly fun.

We should all be here for this. The Jazz figured out how they like to win last season, mixing staunch defense with timely shooting and balanced scoring. In the process, Gordon Hayward, Rodney Hood, Derrick Favors and Rudy Gobert quietly blossomed into an enviable core. Every move the front office made seemed to push the right buttons. I cape for Boris Diaw like Boris capes for a frothy espresso. — Jeremy Woo

One number: 84,484. The Jazz added three accomplished veterans in Boris Diaw, George Hill and Joe Johnson. Together, they’ve played 84,484 minutes in their careers. Nobody on Utah’s roster ended last season with as many as 14,000.

The new vets will provide a boost to the Jazz’s callow—though enviably talented—young core of Gordon Hayward, Derrick Favors, Rudy Gobert and Dante Exum. Hill gives them stability at point guard, allowing the 21-year-old Exum, who missed last season with a torn left ACL, to ease back into the rotation. A capable shooter with a long wingspan, Hill can be a role player on offense while seamlessly integrating himself into a swarming defense.

Johnson and Diaw give Utah flexibility in the frontcourt—not to mention loads of playoff experience. (The team has not been to the postseason since 2012.) Johnson can shoot from the outside and carry the offense for brief stretches. The crafty Diaw will help to match up with small-ball lineups on nights when Gobert is ineffective.

The Jazz enter the season with less hype than other young squads, but if Quin Snyder can find the right combinations with his deep roster, they’ll be a tough out every night. — Rohan Nadkarni

Scouting report: They don’t have a star, but they do have one of the deepest rosters in the league. I could easily see them hitting a dominant stretch and cracking 50 wins. . . . Everyone thinks of them as a big team with Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors, but they have a bunch of stretch options now with Trey Lyles, Boris Diaw and even Joe Johnson. Their wings are all interchangeable too. . . . They struggled a lot in the clutch last season with Gordon Hayward and Rodney Hood trying to do too much one-on-one. Now you plug in Johnson as a late option and Diaw as a playmaker and George Hill as a complementary shooter, and they’re much harder to guard . . . The Hayward and Hood pairing could be one of the best wing combos for a decade. I think Hood actually has a higher ceiling, and he’s among the young two guards who might push into the West All-Star conversation. He has size, ball skills, he can score and he makes good decisions. He’ll need to adjust to moving off the ball more this year. . . . Lyles is a candidate as a breakout player. He gets forgotten because they added all the vets, but he can shoot, he can guard all types of fours. . . . Utah is one of the few teams that can still really count on its traditional [big-man] pairing, because Gobert and Favors really pound you on the glass and they defend so well. They can control the pace, post you up, finish around the hoop and take away all your offense inside 10 feet. Gobert is almost a defense by himself. He’s the difference between them being O.K. and very good.

Bottom Line: Now even deeper, the Jazz will be one team no one in the West wants to see in the first round.

Jeff Haynes/Getty Images

Sacramento Kings: Record last season: 33-49

Postseason results: None

Additions: Arron Afflalo, Ty Lawson, Matt Barnes, Garrett Temple, Anthony Tolliver, Malachi Richardson, Geogios Papagiannis, Jordan Farmar, Skal Labissiere, Isaiah Cousins, Lamar Patterson

Subtractions: Marco Belinelli, Rajon Rondo, Caron Butler, Seth Curry, Quincy Acy, Duje Dukan, James Anderson, Eric Moreland

Biggest move: Hiring head coach Dave Joerger

Projected finish: 14th in the Western Conference

Entertainment ranking: 15. Drama-loving rubberneckers rejoiced when owner Vivek Ranadive admitted that ex-coach George Karl tried to trade DeMarcus Cousins for months. Without a quality floor general, there’s no telling when the chaos will end. — Ben Golliver

Power ranking: 25. The Kings proved this off-season that they are the best team in the NBA when it comes to being the Kings. Free Boogie. — Jeremy Woo

One number: 266. DeMarcus Cousins is tightening his grasp on two titles: the NBA’s most talented center and its most tortured. Since the two-time All-Star arrived in 2010–11, the Kings have missed the playoffs every season. The franchise’s .345 winning percentage during Cousins’s career ranks 28th, topping only the Timberwolves’ and Sixers’. During the last six seasons Cousins has appeared in 266 losses, the most by a player with a single team. (Four others have appeared in more defeats, but they’ve enjoyed at least one change in scenery.)

Cousins, meanwhile, has been stuck in Sacramento through an ugly ownership change and multiple front-office regimes. This season he will play for Dave Joerger, the sixth coach of his career, and with a cast of teammates that isn’t much better than last season’s 33-win outfit. Despite having Cousins to build around, the Kings have a hole at point guard, limited three-point shooting and an excess of homogeneous combo forwards. Given that GM Vlade Divac has used three first-round picks on centers in the last two drafts, perhaps the plan isn’t to build around their 26-year-old franchise big man, but to start preparing for what comes next. Is Cousins finally inching closer to an escape? — Ben Golliver

Scouting report: Dave Joerger might be their biggest free-agent addition. That’s good and bad. He’s a nice coach with a solid track record, but they really needed a big talent infusion. . . . I expect Joerger to play with two bigs like he did in Memphis, just because they have DeMarcus Cousins and so many other power forwards and centers. It will be hard for Joerger to play pace-and-space because their wings and guards are so poor. . . . Joerger will use Cousins like he used Marc Gasol in Memphis: Put him on the elbow and let him create. But you want to put him in the post too. He can get you points from everywhere. . . . Willie Cauley-Stein is not a perfect all-around player, but he brings length and tons of activity. Still, playing Cousins and Cauley-Stein together isn’t great because that puts two guys without true three-point range on the court. . . . If they want to win, they would be better off giving Rudy Gay minutes as a stretch four, but then they’re just burying the young guys. [Rookie] Skal Labissiere is probably the best four for them; you could see him developing into a good shooter down the road. . . . They won’t miss Rajon Rondo at all. Darren Collison might not be able to put up Rondo’s numbers, but he’ll have a much better impact on their team as a whole. Rondo had the ball in his hands way too much. . . . They have enough average or below-average defenders in their rotation that it’s hard to take them seriously. It’s hard to even pick out their best lineup of five defensive players. They’ll have to play a little bit slower or they could give up 118 points on any night.

Bottom line: The roster will be big. The win total will not.

Jennifer Pottheiser/Getty Images

New York Knicks: Record last season: 32-50

Postseason results: None

Additions: Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, Joakim Noah, Brandon Jennings, Justin Holiday, Mindaugas Kuzminskas, Marshall Plumlee, Maurice Ndour, J.P. Tokoto, Ron Baker, Chasson Randle

Subtractions: Langston Galloway, Arron Afflalo, Derrick Williams, Kevin Seraphin, Cleanthony Early, Tony Wroten, Robin Lopez, Jose Calderon, Jerian Grant

Biggest move: Trading for Derrick Rose

Projected finish: Ninth in the Eastern Conference

Entertainment rankings: 14. While there’s no rhyme or reason to the shaky roster Phil Jackson has assembled, Kristaps Porzingis is so fascinating and novel that he singlehandedly makes up for most of the missteps. — Ben Golliver

Preseason power rankings: 19. It’s hard to envision New York being worse, but there’s too many injury concerns and untested bench cogs to envision exactly what a better Knicks team will look like. Stay cautious here. — Jeremy Woo

One number: -4.27. By most measures, Derrick Rose was one of the worst players at his position last season. Rose’s –4.27 real plus-minus ranked 74th of 77 qualifying point guards (meaning that his play cost the Bulls 4.27 points per 100 possessions last year). He was especially bad at the defensive end, which is troubling for the Knicks, whose anchor—an aging, oft-injured Joakim Noah—will need all the help he can get.

Offensively, Rose was a detriment too, but he had an uptick in efficiency in the second half as he recovered from vision problems. If that emboldens him to gun more, New York—which will also put Carmelo Anthony in a fair number of isos—could be looking at a lot of empty possessions this season. All of which raises the question: Will Kristaps Porzingis get the ball enough?

The 7' 3" forward from Latvia was a revelation last season, stretching the floor, dunking, blocking shots and offering a real ray of hope at Madison Square Garden. But the Knicks are holding on to playoff pipe dreams instead of committing to a rebuild. How do Rose and Noah (and an aging Melo) help Porzingis? They don’t. At least Rose’s contract lasts only one more season; Noah is locked in for four years and $72 million. — Rohan Nadkarni

Scouting report: "If they stay healthy, they could win 48 or 50 games. That’s a big if. Carmelo Anthony has had knee issues. Joakim Noah has had injuries in the last couple of years. And with Derrick Rose, there’s always the possibility he’ll go down too. . . . Everyone talks about Noah and Rose, but Courtney Lee was a big pickup. He’s a lockdown defender and a better three-point shooter than people think. . . . [New coach] Jeff Hornacek was a good choice. New York isn’t an easy place to go. You’re strapped with what Phil Jackson wants to do. But Hornacek is his own person. He’ll play some triangle, but he’ll also do other things—spreading the floor, pick-and-roll, trying to create more possessions. It’s hard to win when you have only 80 or 90 possessions. The triangle is just too methodical . . . Kristaps Porzingis will eventually be one of the best players in the league. He can stretch the defense on pick-and-pops, which is hard to guard when you have a guy that’s 7' 3" and can shoot like he can shoot. . . . Rose is still as quick as John Wall, he can make everyone around him better and he’s not a bad perimeter shooter, but he needs to change the way he plays. He tries to challenge bigs, and as a result he gets knocked down and hurt. He needs to play a little smarter . . . Melo can flat-out score. He’ll take bad shots sometimes, but he can defend when he wants to, and he can rebound. He’s got help now. His priority should be winning—not scoring titles. . . . You might be able to squeeze out a decent eight-man rotation, but if guys get injured and others have to step up, then they really start to drop off."​

Bottom line: This could have been the best team in the NBA—in 2010-11. 

Juan Ocampo/Getty Images

Los Angeles Lakers:  Record last season: 17-65

Postseason results: None

Additions: Luol Deng, Timofey Mozgov, Brandon Ingram, Jose Calderon, Thomas Robinson, Yi Jianlian, Ivica Zubac

Subtractions: Kobe Bryant, Brandon Bass, Roy Hibbert, Ryan Kelly

Biggest move: Drafting Brandon Ingram (Losing Kobe?)

Projected finish: 15th in the Western Conference

Entertainment ranking: 19. Kobe Bryant dubbed himself “Vino” because he aged like fine wine. His talented but inexperienced successors, D’Angelo Russell and Brandon Ingram, are both under 21. Call them Sprite and Schweppes? — Ben Golliver

Power ranking: 28. Luke Walton, young talent and a bizarre crop of vets should make for a much more watchable season, but that’s the only comfortable assumption here. — Jeremy Woo

One number: 5.8. Lakers fans were understandably befuddled when GM Mitch Kupchak opened the free-agency period by signing Timofey Mozgov to a four-year, $64 million contract. Mozgov?!? Sure, the 7' 1" center had just won a championship with the Cavaliers, but he was barely a factor during the title run. After losing his starting job during an injury-plagued season, Mozgov averaged just 5.8 minutes in the postseason and didn’t even get on the court eight times.

Kupchak and first-time coach Luke Walton are hoping that Mozgov, 30, still has some quality basketball left in the tank. After finishing with the league’s worst defense, the Lakers wasted no time moving on from ponderous Roy Hibbert, whose clunky offensive game also made him a poor fit. While Mozgov isn’t necessarily the most agile center either, he’s a capable finisher in pick-and-rolls, and he has a knack for creating opportunities with off-ball cuts. He has even spent some time in the preseason honing a three-point stroke.

This new marriage is bound to face some tough moments, given the Lakers’ youth and lack of defensive talent, but Mozgov is excited to be back in his team’s plans. “[Walton] said I’m going to play a lot,” he told the L.A. Daily News. “I really like it.” — Ben Golliver

Scouting report: The best-case scenario is that D’Angelo Russell becomes a high-level starter, Brandon Ingram is in the Rookie of the Year mix, and they get a clear sense for how Julius Randle fits into their plans. And they still might not win 25 games. . . . They should change more than any other team, with Kobe Bryant retiring and [coach] Luke Walton taking over for Byron Scott. They’ll play fast, take more threes, run less isolation and have a lot more oppor-tunity for their young prospects, which is how they should have played last year. . . . Russell is their most important player. The style shift will work if he makes it work, and it will fail if he’s not quite ready. Give him a mulligan for last year because Bryant dominated everything. If Russell “gets it,” he’ll be a superstar. He’s ready for a breakout. . . . Ingram has off-the-charts talent, but it will take him a few years to be an impact guy. His lack of strength will hurt him, and he needs to tighten up his handle. I see him as a skilled all-around offensive player but not quite elite. . . . Randle has the biggest question marks. Is he a starter? A guy off the bench? A trade chip? Maybe Walton sees Randle as a Draymond Green type. He can handle the ball a little bit, but can he make the reads? I don’t think Randle has shown a clear skill set. He’s pretty easy to guard. He goes left over and over, and he goes to his spin move over and over. . . . Larry Nance Jr. could wind up being more important than Randle. He’s a more natural fit as a small five, he plays with great energy, and he’s an above-the-rim threat. Everything he does translates to winning.

Bottom Line: Coach Luke Walton won 73 games with the Dubs last year. It might take him three years to win that many here.

Fernando Medina/Getty Images

Orlando Magic: Record last season: 35-47

Postseason results: None

Additions: Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo, Jeff Green, D.J. Augustin, Jodie Meeks, C.J. Wilcox, Stephen Zimmerman, Branden Dawson, Damjan Rudez, Nick Johnson, Cliff Alexander, Arinze Onuaku, Kevin Murphy

Subtractions: Victor Oladipo, Dewayne Dedmon, Brandon Jennings, Andrew Nicholson, Jason Smith, Devyn Marble, Shabazz Napier, Ersan Ilyasova, Domantas Sabonis

Biggest move: Trading away Victor Oladipo

Projected finish: 13th in the Eastern Conference

Entertainment ranking: 29. New coach Frank Vogel summed it up bluntly to “We might have to win games 68-65.” Skip their mucky slugfests unless you love interior defense. — Ben Golliver

Power ranking: 20. Do you like defense? Because Frank Vogel, Serge Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo, Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton do. — Jeremy Woo

One number: 72 [million]. A center, Nikola Vucevic, led Orlando in usage and scoring last season. So naturally the Magic made a $72 million investment in another center, Bismack Biyombo, who seems incapable of playing alongside him. Vucevic, 25, brings a varied scoring arsenal; Biyombo, 24, is an impressive rebounder and shot blocker whose scoring is negligible. But neither is comfortable defending on the perimeter, and the place Biyombo needs to be on offense—near the rim—is also where Vucevic is most effective.

New coach Frank Vogel will have to toggle between those two, which may not be the biggest frontcourt quandary presented by a muddled roster. The arrivals of Serge Ibaka from Oklahoma City and Jeff Green in free agency will leave little room for Aaron Gordon at power forward, forcing the athletic but offensively limited 21-year-old to play out of position at the three.

Just about any lineup Vogel could field would come up short in its spacing, defense or capacity to create. He at least has this option: Go for extended stretches with Biyombo and Ibaka, who can be twin pillars of a stout defense that might help the Magic finally claim some sort of lasting identity. — Rob Mahoney

Scouting report: I didn’t like the deal for Serge Ibaka. Trading [guard] Victor Oladipo [to the Thunder] for Ibaka is kind of a wash, but they also gave up the 12th pick, and they’re really only renting Ibaka. If he doesn’t have a great year, they’ll either overpay to keep him or just let him walk. . . . Some of the changes they made are a little frontcourt heavy even though they lack backcourt strength. How do you find minutes for all these guys: Ibaka, Bismack Biyombo, Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic, Jeff Green? . . . Gordon will probably have to play the three because of the logjam. He’s a great athlete and he’s gonna get a lot of buckets in transition. He’s strong and has great size to guard threes. But he lacks the shooting skill to space the floor. I like him more as a four. . . . When they need offense they’ll go with Vucevic; when they need defense and rebounding they’ll go with Biyombo. They paid Biyombo a lot of money, but he really has no offense at all. He came off that great playoff series where he was getting 20 rebounds a game and playing great defense. If he can repeat that kind of performance, he’ll maybe even win the starting position. Frank Vogel is more of a defensive coach. . . . You get scoring from Vucevic, though, and I don’t know how much of that they’ll get from other positions. . . . Elfrid Payton has been a real disappointment. I don’t think he has ever really improved. He’s obviously an up-tempo, penetrating guard, but he can’t shoot at all. . . . Mario Hezonja is really limited. Certainly he can give you spot-up shooting, but he’s slow defensively.

Bottom Line: Looks like the perpetually rebuilding franchise is in for another year of appraisal and deal-making.