Loren Jorgensen: NBA: With a new season, all have reasons for optimism — and concern

Published: Sunday, Nov. 1 2009 12:00 a.m. MDT

Veteran big man Rasheed Wallace has been added to the Boston Celtics' "Big Three" mix.

Charles Krupa, Associated Press

With the 2009-10 NBA season just under way, every team has reason for optimism. Then again, even the title favorites have question marks.

Here's a quick look at each team — in a preseason ranking order from No. 1 to No. 30 — along with a reason to be optimistic and a cause for concern:

1. LOS ANGELES LAKERS

Reason for optimism: The Kobe Bryant-led defending champs added another All-Star in Ron Artest.

Cause for concern: Distractions are everywhere. Lamar Odom has married a Kardashian and will co-star on a reality show. Pau Gasol is doing a guest spot on "CSI." Artest, while he was a good citizen in Houston last year, could explode at a moment's notice. L.A. certainly won't lack for tabloid story angles.

2. BOSTON CELTICS

Reason for optimism: Rajon Rondo is coming into his own and Rasheed Wallace adds another scorer for "The Big Three" of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce.

Cause for concern: Advanced age. Wallace is 35, Allen, 34, Garnett, 33, Pierce, 32, and all have tons of NBA mileage on their tires.

3. ORLANDO MAGIC

Reason for optimism: Dwight Howard is the best center in the league, and the defending Eastern Conference champs added a big-time scorer in Vince Carter.

Cause for concern: Can the Magic live up to their fans' huge expectations — especially since Boston and Cleveland are in the same conference?

4. SAN ANTONIO SPURS

Reason for optimism: Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili have been joined by another elite scorer, Richard Jefferson.

Cause for concern: Duncan was worn down by the end of last season, and Ginobili's health is always a question mark.

5. CLEVELAND CAVALIERS

Reason for optimism: The team with the best regular-season record in the NBA last season added future first-ballot Hall of Fame center Shaquille O'Neal.

Cause for concern: O'Neal didn't exactly help the Suns get over the hump, so why would anyone think he'll be the missing piece for LeBron James and Co.?

6. DENVER NUGGETS

Reason for optimism: Carmelo Anthony is in great shape and has to be considered an MVP candidate. Plus, Chauncey Billups has helped this club learn to win.

Cause for concern: While several other contenders in the West added top players in the offseason in an attempt to get better, the Nuggets stuck with the status quo.

7. PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS

Reason for optimism: Led by Brandon Roy, the Blazers are a young, deep team that finally returned to the playoffs last season. This year, they should be able to win a postseason series or two.

Cause for concern: Greg Oden has proven to be injury prone. Plus, newcomer Andre Miller is on record saying he doesn't like coming off the bench and could become a disruptive influence in the locker room.

8. DALLAS MAVERICKS

Reason for optimism: Dirk Nowitzki is still a force both inside and out and newcomer Shawn Marion adds another top athlete to the roster.

Cause for concern: Jason Kidd, while still being a top distributor, struggles to cover top point guards like Tony Parker, Chris Paul and Deron Williams.

9. UTAH JAZZ

Reason for optimism: Deron Williams is healthy right from the start of the season — unlike a year ago.

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