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Miami are atop of 2012-2013 NBA Season Power Rankings

As the free agency pool becomes shallow, it is time to rank the top five teams in the NBA going into next season.

The top five teams, in order, are the 1. Miami Heat, 2. Los Angeles Lakers, 3. Oklahoma City Thunder, 4. San Antonio Spurs, 5. New York Knicks.

The Heat, coming off an NBA championship, made a big splash in free agency when they signed the NBA’s all-time leader in three-point field goals made, Ray Allen, along with adding another three-point specialist in Rashard Lewis. With these two key additions, and Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and hopefully Mike Miller all coming back 100 percent healthy, the Heat are undoubtedly the best team in the NBA going into next season.

No. 2 in the rankings are the Lakers, who always find a way to not only stay relevant, but to be a contender for an NBA championship every year. Despite losing to the Thunder in this year’s playoffs, the Lakers have a slight edge over the defending Western conference champions. After obtaining arguably the best passing point guard in the league in Steve Nash during the off-season, they also pulled off another blockbuster deal that landed the three-time defensive player of the year, Dwight Howard in a Lakers uniform. With the combination of Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Howard and Nash, along with a much improved bench, the Lakers have put themselves in a position to add another championship banner to its arena next season.

Coming in at No. 3 is the Thunder, which recently signed their defensive catalyst, Serge Ibaka, to a contract extension. That extension though has made it possible for the sixth man of the year in James Harden to become a restricted free agent if he is not given an extension by the end of October. They are an explosive team that Harden played a huge role for. If they can bring him back there won’t be any worries in Oklahoma City next season. The Thunder also received a great draft pick in Perry Jones III, who could be the steal of the 2012 NBA draft. If the core of the team stays intact, this team will definitely be in the NBA Finals a few more times in the next few years.

The fourth best team in the NBA going into next season is the San Antonio Spurs. Yes, their superstars are aged veterans, but they can still play high intensity basketball with the best of them. Also, they have one of the best NBA coaches in Gregg Popovich, who knows how to manage his stars and keep them fresh, while at the same time improving the skills of his younger players and getting the best out of them. Until Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobli, Tony Parker and Popovich all retire; the Spurs can never be left out of the talks about being title contenders.

The last team to round out the top five are the New York Knicks. After an adversity-filled season, plagued with injuries and mid-season coaching changes, the Knicks are still a team to be reckoned with. Despite getting older, the additions of Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas have made their roster better. These veterans can help improve their horrific defense, as well as mentor younger players like Raymond Felton and Iman Shumpert. Another old/new Knick, Felton, makes New York a top team in the NBA, simply because of his chemistry with Amare Stoudemire. Felton was playing the best basketball of his career before being traded in a blockbuster deal that got Carmelo Anthony to New York, and it unfortunately hindered Stoudemire’s production in the process. If that chemistry between Felton and Stoudemire can be rekindled, along with Anthony getting his share of shots, then the Knicks will not be headed to the first-round exit in the 2012-2013 NBA Playoffs.

These teams have the stars needed to contend for a championship, but it will all come down to the chemistry and focus needed to get them to the top.

The rest of the teams that fill out the top 10: 6. Philadelphia 76ers, 7. Boston Celtics, 8. Los Angeles Clippers, 9. Brooklyn Nets, 10. Chicago Bulls.