6 Award Winners
John W. McDonough/SI
MVP: LeBron James, F, Cavaliers
He's without a doubt the front-runner after single-handedly leading an underwhelming Cleveland team to the Finals last season. Runner-up: Paul Pierce, F, Celtics
Rookie of the Year: Luis Scola, F, Rockets
This versatile 27-year-old Argentine will beat out two more traditional newcomers, Kevin Durant and Al Thornton, to become the oldest winner ever. Runner-up: Kevin Durant, F, SuperSonics
Coach of the Year: Doc Rivers, Celtics
He will deserve credit for melding his three stars with young role players. Runner-up: Rick Adelman, Rockets
Defensive Player of the Year: Bruce Bowen, F, Spurs
Some may not like his physical style, but his blanket coverage merits recognition. Runner-up: Rasheed Wallace, F-C, Pistons
Most Improved Player: Andrea Bargnani, F, Raptors
Comparisons with Dirk Nowitzki will abound in this 7-footer's second year. Runner-up: Darko Milicic, F-C, Grizzlies
Executive of the Year: Danny Ainge, Celtics
A no-brainer once Ainge's trades take Boston from the bottom of the East to the top. Runner-up: Chris Wallace, Grizzlies
2 All-NBA Teams
C Yao Ming, Rockets
F Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks
F LeBron James, Cavaliers
G Paul Pierce, Celtics
G Steve Nash, Suns
C Tim Duncan, Spurs
F Kevin Garnett, Celtics
F Carmelo Anthony, Nuggets
G Dwyane Wade, Heat
G Tony Parker, Spurs
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Rajon Rondo, G, Celtics
Can he become Boston's version of Tony Parker?
Tyrus Thomas, F, Bulls
A breakout season as a post scorer would elevate Chicago to title contender.
Jason Maxiell, F, Pistons
His athleticism should help invigorate an aging front line.
Dorell Wright, G-F, Heat
Pat Riley desperately needs Wright's young legs.
Andray Blatche, F, Wizards This third-year preps-to-pros must fill in for the stricken Etan Thomas.
Nate Robinson, G, Knicks
Believe it or not, he can be the true point guard that New York needs.
Darko Milicic, F-C, Grizzlies
As a complement to Pau Gasol, he may finally fulfill his potential.
Al Jefferson, F, Timberwolves
He faces enormous expectations as Kevin Garnett's replacement.
LaMarcus Aldridge, F, Trail Blazers
A multiskilled forward, he has to carry Portland without Greg Oden.
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Jermaine O'Neal, F, Pacers
To unload his $64.1 million contract, rebuilding Indy will have to take less than equal value.
Jason Kidd, G, and Richard Jefferson, F, Nets
New Jersey considered trading both these stars last season.
Shawn Marion, F, Suns
He wants out of Phoenix, but the team has found no takers.
Mike Bibby, G, and Ron Artest, F, Kings
Sacramento will again try to deal the former and would consider moving the latter.
Andrei Kirilenko, G, Jazz
Unfortunately for him, Utah can't make a trade with a Russian team.
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The Knicks' resurgence An us-versus-the-world attitude drives Isiah Thomas's crew into the playoffs.
Kobe Bryant's trade demands The Lakers will try to pacify him by dealing for a complementary star.
The Nuggets' soap opera The league's most contentious locker room is also among the most talented.
Yao Ming's blossoming In Rick Adelman's fluid offense, Yao will use his vision and creativity to become the giant playmaker everyone knew he could be.
The anticipated divorce of the Sonics and Seattle But don't rule out an 11th-hour deal preventing a move to Oklahoma City.
4 Most Appealing Free Agents Not Named Gilbert Arenas*
Antawn Jamison, F, Wizards
This active scorer and rebounder is also a good teammate.
Jason Williams, G, Heat
To raise his value, he will have to guide Miami on a long playoff run.
Ron Artest*, F, Kings
He must stay out of trouble while restoring his reputation for defense.
Corey Maggette*, F, Clippers
Can he play unselfishly and demonstrate any leadership skills?
(*can opt out this summer)
5 Coaches on the Hot Seat Not Named Flip Saunders
Eddie Jordan, Wizards
Last year's All-Star Game coach from the East must upgrade his team's D to contend.
Mike Brown, Cavaliers
He's improved Cleveland's defense but will have a hard time matching last year's playoff run.
Mike Dunleavy, Clippers
The owner's increase in spending hasn't paid off, and Dunleavy will take the blame.
George Karl, Nuggets
Despite a high payroll, Denver has won just two playoff games in Karl's two seasons.
Lawrence Frank, Nets
Entering his fourth season, he might need a deep playoff run to save his job.