The Salt Lake Tribune’s division-by-division NBA picks:
1. New York
1. San Antonio
5. New Orleans
1. Oklahoma City
1. L.A. Lakers
2. L.A. Clippers
3. Golden State
Best team: New York Knicks
Best player: Carmelo Anthony, Knicks
Best acquisition: Andrew Bynum, 76ers
Don’t worry about: Toronto
In a nutshell: If Carmelo Anthony stays healthy, Amar´e Stoudemire rebounds from his latest knee injury, and both decide to play defense, the Knicks overtake the Celtics. … Rajon Rondo and coach Doc Rivers will keep Boston in contention, but Father Time and the loss of Ray Allen will hurt. … Brooklyn is improved, but the statistically-superb backcourt of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson has reached one conference final in their 18 combined seasons. … Philadelphia lost Andre Iguodala and Lou Williams, but center Andrew Bynum is a terrific building block, if his balky knee isn’t a factor.
Best team: Indiana Pacers
Best player: Derrick Rose, Bulls
Best acquisition: Kirk Hinrich, Bulls
Don’t worry about: Detroit
In a nutshell: The Pacers lack a superstar, which showed in last year’s conference final against Miami. But they have a rock-solid core, led by Danny Granger, George Hill, Roy Hibbert and emerging Paul George. They help make Indiana the division’s best team — at least until Chicago’s Derrick Rose returns from his knee injury. … The Bulls looked like a legitimate challenger to Miami until Rose went down in the playoffs. Only time will tell if Chicago and Rose return to their previous level of play. … A low-level playoff berth seems like the ceiling for Cleveland, Milwaukee and Detroit.
Best team: Miami Heat
Best player: LeBron James
Best acquisition: Ray Allen, HeatNext Page >
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