LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

In order of predicted finish.

CENTRAL DIVISION

Cleveland Cavaliers

Coach: David Blatt, 1st season with Cavaliers.

2013-14 record: 33-49, 3rd place in Central Division.

2013-14 leaders: Pts — Kyrie Irving, 20.8; Rebs — Anderson Varejao, 9.7; Asts — Irving, 6.1.

Key losses: F Luol Deng, C Spencer Hawes, G Jarrett Jack, F Anthony Bennett

Key additions: F LeBron James, F Kevin Love, F Shawn Marion, G-F Mike Miller

Pressure is on ...: David Blatt. Coming from overseas to coach a championship-ready team? Going against the tried-and-true coaches, the spotlight will be on him to mix and match this Rubik's Cube of talent, and get them to the Finals

Rising star: G Kyrie Irving was the All-Star MVP and first pick of the 2011 draft, the mainstay before the big changes. He'll play big games for the first time in his career, and he will re-introduce himself to those who ignored Cleveland the last few years

The skinny: James' surprising return sparked the acquisition of Love and other veterans. The power play will be successful if he gets one title to a championship-starved city, but it's not an easy task.

Chicago Bulls

Coach: Tom Thibodeau, 5th season with Bulls.

2013-14 record: 48-34, 2nd place in Central Division. Eliminated in 1st round.

2013-14 leaders: Pts — D.J Augustin, 14.9; Rebs — Joakim Noah, 11.5; Asts — Noah, 5.4.

Key losses: G D.J. Augustin

Key additions: F-C Pau Gasol, F Doug McDermott, F Nikola Mirotic

Pressure is on ...: Derrick Rose. Not only does he have the pressure to perform, but staying on the floor will be objective No. 1 after the last two seasons where he's played just 10 games. If the 2011 MVP returns to form, expect a seven-game series against the Cavaliers in the Conference Finals

Rising star: G-F Jimmy Butler emerged last season as an improving offensive option, something that was necessary with Rose's absence. He already fits the mold of a Thibodeau defender (fearless, energetic and tough), and he won't back down from the elite scorers.

The skinny: Physically, Rose looks good, and adding the veteran Gasol for interior scoring makes the Bulls more formidable. Their question has always been health, and can they get enough scoring.

Detroit Pistons

Coach: Stan Van Gundy, 1st season with the Pistons.

2013-14 record: 29-53, 4th place in Central Division.

2013-14 leaders: Pts — Josh Smith, 16.4; Rebs — Andre Drummond, 13.2; Asts — Brandon Jennings, 7.6.

Key losses: G Rodney Stuckey, G Will Bynum

Key additions: G Jodie Meeks, F Caron Butler, G D.J. Augustin

Pressure is on ...: Josh Smith. His effect after signing a big free-agent contract left a lot to be desired, and he was shopped over the summer. His willingness to make it work with his teammates in the form of shot selection and consistency has to be the biggest question on team full of them.

Rising star: C Andre Drummond is expected to have a breakout year. The comparisons to Dwight Howard, fair or not, are getting louder. Where this franchise goes long-term hinges on this 21-year-old's development, and becoming a dependable offensive player is the expected next step

The skinny: Five years of missing the playoffs could be six if the roster doesn't respond to another new coach and another new plan. Talent-wise, this team should make the playoffs, but we said that last season.

Indiana Pacers

Coach: Frank Vogel.

2013-14 record: 56-26, 1st place in Central Division. Lost in Eastern Conference Finals.

2013-14 leaders: Pts — Paul George, 21.7; Rebs — Lance Stephenson, 7.2; Asts — Stephenson, 4.6.

Key losses: G Lance Stephenson, G-F Evan Turner

Key additions: G Rodney Stuckey, G C.J. Miles

Pressure is on ...: Roy Hibbert. His puzzling season carried over into the playoffs, where he didn't live up to his max contract status. Now with the team expected to take more than a few steps back because of departures and injuries, he'll be counted on to be a consistent force.

Rising star: F Paul George is expected to miss the season after suffering a gruesome leg injury while playing for USA Basketball. When healthy, he is one of the league's best.

The skinny: Many believe this team will be lucky to make the playoffs, and you have to wonder about a long-term plan for a defensive-minded, veteran-laden team that lost its best player over the summer.

Milwaukee Bucks

Coach: Jason Kidd, 1st season with Bucks.

2013-14 record: 15-67, 5th place in Central Division.

2013-14 leaders: Pts — Brandon Knight, 17.9; Rebs — Jeff Adrien, 7.8; Asts — Knight, 4.9.

Key losses: None

Key additions: F Jabari Parker, G-F Jared Dudley

Pressure is on ...: Larry Sanders. He missed 25 games after injuring his thumb in a night club fight. His game still needs to develop, as does his maturity.

Rising star: F Jabari Parker. The most talented player in the draft comes to a situation where he'll have the opportunity to grow at his own pace. He's a matchup nightmare at either forward spot and will put up big numbers. He's the real deal.

The skinny: Kidd's power play that landed him in Milwaukee where his friends are new owners certainly didn't endear him to many in the league. Now, he has time to develop a young team where expectations are low.

SOUTHEAST DIVISION

Washington Wizards

Coach: Randy Wittman, 4th season with Wizards.

2013-14 record: 44-38, 2nd place in Southeast Division. Eliminated in 2nd round.

2013-14 leaders: Pts — John Wall, 19.3; Rebs — Marcin Gortat, 9.5; Asts — Wall, 8.8.

Key losses: F Trevor Ariza

Key additions: F Paul Pierce, G Andre Miller, C DeJuan Blair

Pressure is on ...: Otto Porter. The lottery pick didn't play much last year, but the forward is expected to make a contribution this season.

Rising star: G Bradley Beal will miss the first few weeks with a fractured wrist. When he's on the floor, he and Wall form one of the league's best backcourts.

The skinny: Every time you expect Washington's basketball team to take the next step, it greatly disappoints. A dark horse to break up the Chicago-Cleveland party, but a lot will have to go right — and veteran F Paul Pierce will have to turn back the clock at age 37.

Charlotte Hornets

Coach: Steve Clifford, 2nd season with Hornets

2013-14 record: 43-39, 3rd place in Southeast Division. Eliminated in 1st round.

2013-14 leaders: Pts — Al Jefferson, 21.8; Rebs —Jefferson, 10.8; Asts — Kemba Walker, 6.1.

Key losses: C Brendan Haywood, F Josh McRoberts

Key additions: G Lance Stephenson, F Noah Vonleh, F Marvin Williams

Pressure is on ...: Lance Stephenson. He left the stability of the Pacers for bigger money and, in his mind, a bigger role. He has an opportunity to elevate the previously dormant franchise — or drag it back with his antics.

Rising star: G Kemba Walker shut up the skeptics who thought he couldn't play at the pro level after a stellar collegiate career.

The skinny: The artists formerly known as the Bobcats returned to their roots (Hornets), and owner Michael Jordan has seemingly, finally, gotten it right. Just making it to the playoffs was a huge step last spring as Clifford engineered a surprisingly good defense. What will they do for an encore?

Miami Heat

Coach: Erik Spoelstra, 7th season with Heat.

2013-14 record: 54-28, 1st in Southeast Division. Lost in NBA Finals.

2013-14 leaders: Pts — LeBron James, 27.1; Rebs — James, 6.9; Asts — James, 6.4.

Key losses: F LeBron James, G Ray Allen

Key additions: F Luol Deng, F-C Josh McRoberts

Pressure is on ...: G Dwyane Wade. He has been bothered by injuries the last few seasons. He appears to have lost weight over the summer, but can he be available enough to summon the star production his previous stat lines suggest?

Rising star: F Chris Bosh. Although he's an established star, he made the biggest sacrifice over the past four years by becoming a third option. He'll return to top dog this year, albeit at age 30, and he'll be the biggest factor if the Heat don't fall off the NBA map.

The skinny: Four years of Finals appearances will certainly end without James around. Spoelstra is still a top coach, and he has enough talent to get to the postseason. After that, it is anybody's guess.

Atlanta Hawks

Coach: Mike Budenholzer, 2nd season with Hawks.

2013-14 record: 38-44, 4th place in Southeast Division. Eliminated in 1st round.

2013-14 leaders: Pts — Paul Millsap, 17.9; Rebs — Millsap, 8.5; Asts — Jeff Teague, 6.7.

Key losses: None

Key additions: F Adreian Payne, G Thabo Sefolosha

Pressure is on ...: The entire franchise. Racially insensitive remarks by team owner Bruce Levenson upset the few die-hards in the Atlanta area. The search for a new owner is on.

Rising star: G Jeff Teague. Nobody expected Teague to become this dependable but he's a mainstay, and nearly engineered the 1-8 upset of the Pacers in Round 1. He won't wow you with his game but he's earned more than a few fans around the league for his steadiness.

The skinny: If Al Horford can return to his form after a torn pectoral muscle caused him to miss three-quarters of the season, the Hawks can make this an interesting race for the division crown.

Orlando Magic

Coach: Jacque Vaughn, 3rd season with Magic.

2013-14 record: 23-59, 5th place in Southeast Division.

2013-14 leaders: Pts — Arron Afflalo, 18.2; Rebs — Nikola Vucevic, 11.0; Asts — Jameer Nelson, 7.0.

Key losses: G Arron Afflalo, G Jameer Nelson

Key additions: G Ben Gordon, G Elfrid Payton, F Aaron Gordon, F Channing Frye

Pressure is on ...: Nikola Vucevic. The big man just got paid before the season, and you can pencil him in for a dependable season. But pressure comes with the money, and presumably, the production will come within the context of a few more wins.

Rising star: G Victor Oladipo. Who cares if he's too small to be a shooting guard? Tell that to his heart, his motor and toughness. He brings it every night and will take another step in terms of his perimeter game.

The skinny: The team has struggled since the departure of Dwight Howard. But after two years of building around young, tough players, the Magic have one more before the pressure starts to rise. Nice core, but still a year away.

ATLANTIC DIVISION

Toronto Raptors

Coach: Dwane Casey, 4th season with Raptors.

2013-14 record: 48-34, 1st place in Atlantic Division. Eliminated in 1st round.

2013-14 leaders: Pts — DeMar DeRozan, 22.7; Rebs — Jonas Valaciunas, 8.8; Asts — Kyle Lowry, 7.4.

Key losses: F-G John Salmons, F Steve Novak

Key additions: G Louis Williams

Pressure is on ...: C Jonas Valaciunas. He could be the key if the Raptors' want to move beyond the first round of the playoffs. He's already a force in the paint, but he'll get more opportunities to refine his improving post game.

Rising star: G DeMar DeRozan stepped his game up and gained even more confidence by playing with Team USA this summer. He and Lowry make up the best backcourt this side of Golden State.

The skinny: Toronto fell in the first round, but revived basketball in Toronto. GM Masai Ujiri has never been afraid to make bold moves, so you wonder if he'll try to acquire a low-post presence to bolster his team's chances.

Brooklyn Nets

Coach: Lionel Hollins, 1st season with Nets.

2013-14 record: 44-38, 2nd place in Southeast Division. Eliminated in 2nd round.

2013-14 leaders: Pts — Joe Johnson, 15.8; Rebs — Kevin Garnett, 6.6; Asts — Deron Williams, 6.1.

Key losses: F Paul Pierce, F-C Andray Blatche, G Marcus Thornton

Key additions: None

Pressure is on ...: Deron Williams. He went from being in the conversation of best point guard to an afterthought at the position. At age 30, he's not over the hill but perhaps nagging injuries have gotten the best of him.

Rising star: C Brook Lopez — if he can stay healthy, and keep those foot injuries away. He was the key in the Nets finishing lower than expectations but when he's on the floor, he's a matchup nightmare on the block and a presence on defense.

The skinny: Bringing in the experienced Hollins won't be enough to make up for the noticeable decline of the Nets' three top players sans Lopez. He'll have them playing tough, grimy defense, which will be enough to get them to the postseason.

New York Knicks

Coach: Derek Fisher, 1st season with Knicks.

2013-14 record: 37-45, 3rd place in Atlantic Division.

2013-14 leaders: Pts — Carmelo Anthony, 27.4; Rebs — Tyson Chandler, 9.6; Asts — Raymond Felton, 5.6.

Key losses: C Tyson Chandler, PG Raymond Felton

Key additions: G Jose Calderon

Pressure is on ...: Carmelo Anthony. How will he adapt to Fisher and the implementation of the triangle offense, one that requires ball movement and sharing, qualities that aren't associated with Anthony. He took the money this summer to stay in New York, and the pressure is on.

Rising star: G Tim Hardaway Jr. was a bright spot in a dull season, and he has enough room to grow into the new offense. With the Knicks likely to shop J.R. Smith, he could be in line for an even bigger role.

The skinny: Phil Jackson returned to his professional roots in New York, albeit in the front office and not on the sidelines. What's his plan, aside from mentoring Fisher as a coach? There's no such thing as a long honeymoon in New York. Those crowds will start crowing quickly.

Boston Celtics

Coach: Brad Stevens, 2nd season with Celtics.

2013-14 record: 25-57, 4th place in Atlantic Division.

2013-14 leaders: Pts — Jeff Green, 16.9; Rebs — Jared Sullinger, 8.1; Asts — Rajon Rondo, 9.8.

Key losses: F Kris Humpries

Key additions: F Evan Turner, G Marcus Smart, G James Young

Pressure is on ...: Jeff Green. All the talent in the world but you never know which player will show up on a nightly basis. If he gets off to a great start, expect to hear his name mentioned in possible trades.

Rising star: Jared Sullinger is undersized, but he's carved out a nice niche as an excellent rebounder and inside-outside scorer.

The skinny: The Celtics are still rebuilding, and G Rajon Rondo is still on the roster. At some point, they'll move him, it just seems like a matter of when as opposed to if. They keep stockpiling assets, but until that big move is made, there will be long nights in the Northeast.

Philadelphia 76ers

Coach: Brett Brown, 2nd season with 76ers.

2013-14 record: 19-63, 5th place in Southeast Division.

2013-14 leaders: Pts — Thaddeus Young, 17.9; Rebs — Spencer Hawes, 8.5; Asts — Michael Carter-Williams, 6.1.

Key losses: C Spencer Hawes, F Thaddeus Young

Key additions: F Nerlens Noel, G Keith Bogans

Pressure is on ...: The 76ers marketing staff. Their slogan should be "Under Construction: Tanking Until Further Notice," as a way of keeping the impatient Philly fans from going haywire.

Rising star: G Michael Carter-Williams played so well at times last year, the front office contemplated trading him because he almost made the 76ers resemble a real NBA team (joking). They shopped him this past summer because he's one of the few tradable assets on the roster (not a joke). Either way, although he's young, he plays with savvy and has a high ceiling.

The skinny: What the 76ers are doing is shameful but allowable under the NBA rules. They want to be bad until they happen to get lucky in the NBA draft lottery. They trade good players, draft injured players who can't play for the coming season, yet raise ticket prices. Nice sell.

vgoodwill@detroitnews.com

twitter.com/vgoodwill

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE