Power Rankings: Lakers open camp still on top

Updated: September 26, 2010, 5:17 PM ET
By Marc Stein | ESPN.com
Friday, Sept. 24

The Lakers and Celtics got deeper after going seven games in the NBA Finals. Eight teams have hired new coaches. And three of the biggest free agents in league history have teamed up in one beach city in the signature chapter of the wildest offseason we've ever witnessed.


The Nets, Knicks, Rockets and Wolves are holding their media days on this very good Friday, with practices starting Saturday, which means that the most anticipated season in memory has finally arrived. That also means it's time for your committee (of one) to return with the annual training camp edition of ESPN.com's NBA Power Rankings, some 99 days since L.A.'s title-clinching win over Boston and 165 days since the last fresh batch.

The new season starts with the defending champions accorded the usual respect here by opening at No. 1, but the Lakers are followed closely by Miami, whose historic summer signing spree that flanked Dwyane Wade with LeBron James and Chris Bosh vaulted the Heat over the Celtics into the No. 2 slot, despite the fact we haven't yet seen them as a threesome.

For the purposes of review, allow me to pass along my usual reminder that the season's first rankings help measure each team's standing and outlook heading into camps. It is not -- repeat, not -- a firm predicted order of finish. How last season ended and how good a team is projected to be in 2010-11 are big parts of the equation at this early stage, but how each team fared in its summertime dealings is a major factor/frequent tiebreaker as well, along with the usual dash of totally subjective whim from the committee.

The next batch will appear Oct. 25, on the eve of opening night, after all 30 teams have had a month to show us something. You then can click here every Monday throughout the regular season for our human, thoroughly non-automated leaguewide pulse-take. You can also rank the teams yourself or click here to comment on the first set.

Editor's note: "Last Week" and "Record" categories are from the final Power Rankings of the 2009-10 regular season.

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