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Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant is unhappy about the current state of the Lakers. L.A. is currently sitting in 10th place in the Western Conference. (AP Photo/Jae Hong)
The Tribune’s 2012-13 NBA Preview
NBA » Heat could have Southeast wrapped up by Christmas; Thunder still a threat after trade
First Published Oct 29 2012 02:15 pm • Last Updated Oct 29 2012 11:51 pm

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

At a glance

The Salt Lake Tribune’s division-by-division NBA picks:

Eastern Conference

Atlantic Division

1. New York

2. Boston

3. Brooklyn

4. Philadelphia

5. Toronto

Central Division

1. Indiana

2. Chicago

3. Cleveland

4. Milwaukee

5. Detroit

Southeast Division

1. Miami

2. Atlanta

3. Washington

4. Orlando

5. Charlotte


Southwest Division

1. San Antonio

2. Dallas

3. Memphis

4. Houston

5. New Orleans

Northwest Division

1. Oklahoma City

2. Denver

3. Utah

4. Minnesota

5. Portland

Pacific Division

1. L.A. Lakers

2. L.A. Clippers

3. Golden State

4. Sacramento

5. Phoenix

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Best team: New York Knicks

Best player: Carmelo Anthony, Knicks

Best acquisition: Andrew Bynum, 76ers

Sleeper: Brooklyn

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.

Central Division

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Best team: Indiana Pacers

Best player: Derrick Rose, Bulls

Best acquisition: Kirk Hinrich, Bulls

Sleeper: Cleveland

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.

Southeast Division

Best team: Miami Heat

Best player: LeBron James

Best acquisition: Ray Allen, Heat

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