The forecast panel was composed of 215 people who contribute to ESPN's NBA coverage in a number of roles.
The top five in the East is Miami (60-22), Chicago (55-27), Indiana (54-28), Brooklyn (53-29) and New York (48-34).
The Nets won 49 games last season before being ousted in the first round by the Bulls. Brooklyn upgraded in the offseason by acquiring Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry and signing Andrei Kirilenko. First-year coach Jason Kidd, age and chemistry will be their biggest question marks heading into training camp.
The Heat are the two-time defending champions. They didn’t do much in the offseason, other than adding Greg Oden. Miami’s chances of a three-peat likely hinges on the health of Dwyane Wade, though when you have LeBron James, anything is possible.
The Bulls’ biggest “addition” is Derrick Rose, the MVP point guard who missed all of last season due to injury. Nate Robinson left for Denver, but his loss should be mitigated, assuming Rose is close to being the superstar he was before getting hurt.
Mike Dunleavy was the only real impact player the Bulls brought in via free agency, replacing Marco Belinelli, who departed for San Antonio. Chicago, of course, was decimated by injury at the end of the season.
The Nets and Knicks are already talking smack. J.R. Smith thinks the Knicks are still the marquee team in New York, but Pierce believes it’s time for the Nets to starting running the city.
What do you think of ESPN’s forecast? Will the Nets be the fourth-best team in the East during the regular season? Let us know in the comments section below.