Judging from the 50 game season in 1999, teams with a minimum of player churn, continuity in their system and stellar defense will excel. Teams that go through a lot of turnover will struggle. The teams that fit that description best are the Chicago Bulls, the Boston Celtics, the Miami Heat, the Portland Trail Blazers, the Memphis Grizzlies, the Oklahoma City Thunder, and the San Antonio Spurs.
The NBA Champion Dallas Mavericks are likely to join this crowd if theyre-sign their own free agents easily.
In other words most the NBA’s elite eight from last season figure to return to the top. That’s how it was in 1999 too.
The teams that may struggle for a minute include the Los Angeles Lakers as new coach Mike Brown develops working relationships with Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace (which was actually kind of fun to type), and Pau Gasol. I’m not saying the Lakers will fall out of the playoff picture but quick starts by their rivals could leave them vying for a lower seed then the Staples faithful are accustomed to.
Overall the bigger the roster construction issue, the more a team is likely to slip a bit, though some teams like the ’99 Knicks may get it together late in the season and make surprising playoff run. The Houston Rockets or Minnesota Timberwolves might be the best candidate for that spot.