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.
Cause for concern: Carlos Boozer's impending free agency or potential trade will be hanging over the team while Paul Millsap not-so-patiently waits for his chance to be the starting power forward.
10. ATLANTA HAWKS
Reason for optimism: They have one of the East's top front lines with the trio of Marvin Williams, Josh Smith and Al Horford to go along with high-scoring guard Joe Johnson.
Cause for concern: As young and talented as the Hawks are, they are not good enough yet to beat the Cavs, Magic or Celtics in a playoff series.
11. TORONTO RAPTORS
Reason for optimism: Paid big bucks to keep center Andrea Bargnani and add forward Hedo Turkoglu, who will compliment superstar Chris Bosh.
Cause for concern: This is likely Bosh's final season in a Raptors jersey — as he will become a free agent next summer.
12. HOUSTON ROCKETS
Reason for optimism: The Rockets seem to be able to win with or without their stars being on the court.
Cause for concern: That theory will be tested immediately, as their two All-Stars are injured. Yao Ming is out for the season and Tracy McGrady will miss the first month or so after having knee surgery.
13. PHOENIX SUNS
Reason for optimism: Amare Stoudemire won't have Shaq getting in the way or slowing things down for him this season.
Cause for concern: Steve Nash seems to have lost a step and the Suns' window for winning an NBA title has been slammed shut.
14. NEW ORLEANS HORNETS
Reason for optimism: Chris Paul and David West are outstanding offensive players who both averaged 21-plus points per game last season.
Cause for concern: The Hornets have a lack of scoring punch beyond Paul and West.
15. MIAMI HEAT
Reason for optimism: Dwyane Wade is a top MVP and scoring champion candidate who makes those around him look better.
Cause for concern: Michael Beasley has the talent to be a strong compliment to Wade — if he can stay on the right course. Beasley spent time in a substance abuse rehabilitation facility during the offseason.
16. WASHINGTON WIZARDS
Reason for optimism: Gilbert Arenas is looking like superhero "Agent Zero" once again.
Cause for concern: Arenas' health issues the past two years have been as ugly as ex-Jazzman DeShawn Stevenson's new face tattoos.
17. CHICAGO BULLS
Reason for optimism: With Derrick Rose leading the way, the Bulls played a memorable 7-game playoff series against the Celtics last spring.
Cause for concern: Ben Gordon bolted for Detroit as a free agent, giving the Bulls one fewer big-time scoring threat.
18. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS
Reason for optimism: Elton Brand can be one of the best forwards in the league if he can stay healthy.
Cause for concern: Brand has been unable to stay healthy. He's played in just 37 games combined in the past two seasons.
19. DETROIT PISTONS
Reason for optimism: Detroit could still contend for a playoff spot despite being in a rebuilding mode after nearly a decade among the NBA's elite.
Cause for concern: Added Ben Gordon — but he plays the same position as the Pistons' best player, Richard Hamilton. Can they coexist?
20. LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS
Reason for optimism: The Clips won the draft lottery and were able to nab the only rookie considered a sure thing — Oklahoma's Blake Griffin.
Cause for concern: The Clippers' curse continues, as Griffin was injured during the team's final preseason game and will miss the first six weeks of the regular season.
21. INDIANA PACERS
Reason for optimism: Team president Larry Bird wants his team to be a winner — and Bird is usually able to get what he wants.
Cause for concern: Beyond small forward Danny Granger, the Pacers are lacking in star-caliber players.
22. OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER
Reason for optimism: Folks expect a breakout season for Kevin Durant. A scoring title this year is not out of the question.
CAUSE FOR CONCERN: This team is too young and inexperienced to compete in their own division against the Nuggets, Blazers and Jazz.
23. MEMPHIS GRIZZLIES
Reason for optimism: Allen Iverson wants to teach his young teammates what it takes to be successful in the NBA.
Cause for concern: Is Iverson the best example for the likes of Mike Conley, O.J. Mayo and Rudy Gay to follow?
24. CHARLOTTE BOBCATS
Reason for optimism: They have a Hall of Fame coach in Larry Brown, who has never missed the playoffs for two straight years with the same team.
Cause for concern: Brown has never coached the Bobcats before.
25. GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS
Reason for optimism: Rookie Stephen Curry was a scoring machine in college and should be fun to watch as a pro, too.
Cause for concern: Don Nelson's team doesn't play a lick of defense.
26. NEW JERSEY NETS
Reason for optimism: In Devin Harris, Courtney Lee and Brook Lopez, the Nets have a young core of players to build around.
Cause for concern: It will take a few more seasons — and likely a top free agent or two — before the Nets are back in the hunt.
27. NEW YORK KNICKS
Reason for optimism: Win or lose — and more often than not, it's lose — Knicks coach Mike D'Antoni helps keep his team watchable because he prefers a run-and-gun style of play.
Cause for concern: The Knicks have been cutting costs in order to hit the free agency market hard next summer. If they don't land James, Stoudemire or Bosh, the Knicks could go a decade between playoff appearances. It's already been eight years since they reached the postseason.
28. MINNESOTA TIMBERWOLVES
Reason for optimism: Al Jefferson is already one of the best centers in the league and rookie point guard Jonny Flynn is off to a good start.
Cause for concern: Draft pick Ricky Rubio decided to stay in Spain rather than become a Timberwolf. Spending winters in Minnesota is a hard sell for rookies and free agents alike.4 comments on this story
29. MILWAUKEE BUCKS
Reason for optimism: Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut make for a solid outside/inside combination.
Cause for concern: Both Redd and Bogut are coming off injury-plagued years and there is not much talent around them.
30. SACRAMENTO KINGS
Reason for optimism: Rookie guard Tyreke Evans and new coach Paul Westphal give Kings fans hope that it won't be the same team that won just 17 games last season.
Cause for concern: The Kings just aren't very good. Seventeen wins seems about right once again.