Teams predicted to make the play-offs

Western Conference

1. San Antonio Spurs (Last season: 55-27)

If LaMarcus Aldridge finds his feet quickly, the Spurs will win more than 60 games this season.

2. Golden State Warriors (67-15)

The young title-winning core can still improve but can they cope with being the hunted instead of the hunters this season?

3. Los Angeles Clippers (56-26)

Somehow they wrangled LA native Paul Pierce from Washington and Josh Smith from Detroit. Two superb additions.

4. Oklahoma City Thunder (45-37)

A healthy Kevin Durant in his contract year means a stellar season is guaranteed but the window to land an NBA title is closing fast.

5. Houston Rockets (56-26)

With new point guard Ty Lawson shouldering some of James Harden's ball-handling duties, the Rockets could pace themselves better.

6. New Orleans Pelicans (45-37)

Two words: Anthony Davis. The young centre is poised to scare the hell out of most defences.

7. Memphis Grizzlies (55-27)

Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol will ensure the Grizzlies stay true to their defensive reputation.

8. Phoenix Suns (39-43)

Coach Jeff Hornacek has made a team of unknowns become competitive in the West. Can he repeat it again?

Surprise package

Sacramento Kings (29-53)

They finally have a decent coach in George Karl. If they can finally get rid of the bad chemistry in recent years, they can make a solid run at the play-offs.

Eastern Conference

1. Cleveland Cavaliers (Last season: 53-29)

The best bet to return to the Finals from the weak East.

2. Chicago Bulls (50-32)

If they dream of winning the NBA title, then they had better hope that Derrick Rose's legs do not buckle.

3. Atlanta Hawks (60-22)

Last season's over-achievers will not be a surprise package anymore but will remain as difficult to beat.

4. Miami Heat (37-45)

The addition of talented point guard Goran Dragic cannot mask the big question: Can Dwyane Wade or Chris Bosh last a full season?

5. Toronto Raptors (49-33)

They have scorers in Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan but finding a tough inside presence is proving to be difficult.

6. Washington Wizards (46-36)

Paul Pierce's departure is a big blow but John Wall and Bradley Beal should keep the Wizards in the play-offs.

7. Boston Celtics (40-42)

They have talented building blocks but have yet to find a star player to bring all these disparate talents together.

8. Milwaukee Bucks (41-41)

Another team with a great nucleus of young talents but just waiting for a star player to arrive.

Surprise package

Detroit Pistons (32-50)

Among the slew of mediocre teams in the East, the Pistons - with their young and athletic centre Andre Drummond - look closest to having a team who can gel quickly.

Chia Han Keong

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 28, 2015, with the headline 'Teams predicted to make the play-offs'. Subscribe