The Contenders

Ford: Pacers try move from first to champs
Indiana won a league-high 61 games last season. Now they want to take the next step.

NBA Insider: The trio at the top
The Pistons, Spurs and Wolves have what it takes to win a championship this year. But are all title contenders created equal?




Darlings Who Must Deliver

Stein: Nuggets' hopes remain mile high
Carmelo Anthony's had a rough offseason, but Denver expects to keep climbing.

Ford: Does the slipper still fit?
How will last season's feel-good stories – the Grizzlies, Cavs, Jazz and Bucks – fare now that expectations are higher?




Identity Crisis

Bucher: Sacramento on slippery slope
The Sacramento Kings are not the same happy-go-lucky bunch we're accustomed to.

Ford: Teams in transition
The Nets, Knicks, Sixers and Hornets have moved from playoff contenders to big question marks this season.

SportsNation: Worst identity crisis?



Reinventing Themselves

Stein: Nash's task -- lift Phoenix from ashes
Steve Nash returns to Phoenix, where his legs and teammates appear faster than ever.

Ford: Breaking the mold
Five NBA teams are in the process of radically (re)defining themselves.

SportsNation: Who can win again?



In a Rut

Bucher: Either 'learn or die'
Golden State hopes to open a new book with former Stanford coach Mike Montgomery.

Ford: Same old story
The Clippers, Bulls, Blazers, Raptors and Sonics have fallen and they can't get up.

SportsNation: Who's 'in a rut'?



Under The Gun

Stein: Lakers ready to disprove doubts
Experts and fans may be writing off the Lakers without Shaq and Phil, but the players aren't.

Ford: Offseason slam dunks?
Miami, Dallas and Houston must make good on their dramatic offseason makeovers.

SportsNation: Who's 'under the gun'?



HOT SPOTS
ESPN.com visited 10 of most talked-about teams during training camp.
MONDAY, OCT. 11
Los Angeles Lakers

• Stein: Loss of pressure
• Inside Lakers camp
MONDAY, OCT. 18
Utah Jazz

• Ford: A different tune
• Inside Jazz camp
TUESDAY, OCT. 12
Charlotte Bobcats

• Ford: Who are these 'Cats?
• Inside Bobcats camp
TUESDAY, OCT. 19
Houston Rockets

• Bucher: Van Gundy's team
• Inside Rockets camp
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 13
Cleveland Cavaliers

• Stein: Playoffs or bust
• Inside Cavaliers camp
WEDNESDAY, OCT. 20
Orlando Magic

• Ford: The IceMan Buildeth
• Inside Magic camp
THURSDAY, OCT. 14
Detroit Pistons

• Ford: Firing on all cylinders
• Inside Pistons camp
THURSDAY, OCT. 21
Miami Heat

• Ford: The Big Copernicus
• Inside Heat camp
FRIDAY, OCT. 15
Dallas Mavericks

• Stein: Nellie's best defense
• Inside Mavericks camp
FRIDAY, OCT. 22
San Antonio Spurs

• Stein: Expecting the best
• Inside Spurs camp



More Features
Brown: Too early to crown Yao? 

Perhaps it is time to look beyond his 7-foot-6 frame and see, exactly, where Yao Ming fits in.
Ramsay: Insider Sixers' camp 

Dr. Jack Ramsay provides a look at the Sixers camp under his son-in-law, head coach Jim O'Brien.
Brown: Dynamic Duos 

With the O'Neal-Bryant marriage annulled, who will emerge as the NBA's next dynamic scoring duo?
Brown: NBA's best 'loser' 

By any measure, Elton Brand ranks with the elite. But why is he such a 'loser'?
Ford: Training-camp battlegrounds 

K-Mart and Nene might be fighting over nothing in Denver, but plenty of other spots are up for grabs.
Ford: Western Conference preview 

The Western Conference fell back to Earth this summer. The Spurs, Rockets and Wolves hope to pick it up.
Ford: Eastern Conference preview 

It's not the Leastern Conference anymore. The East has gotten much stronger.
NBA Power Rankings
Going into training camp, the rankings pick up where we left off, with the Pistons as the top team.
Ford: The Atonement 10 

This year, 10 key players are looking for inspiring comebacks. Who are they?
Brown: LeBron II as a '2' 

In Year Two, will LeBron James continue to blossom, this time as a true shooting guard?
Ford: 10 make-or-break players 

Insider breaks down 10 players with whom we've lost patience. This year we're not accepting any excuses.