ESPN has released its preseason NBA power rankings, and some might be surprised to see the Los Angeles Lakers at the No. 2 spot ahead of the No. 3 Oklahoma City Thunder, the defending Western Conference champions.
L.A.'s offseason additions of Dwight Howard and Steve Nash likely added to the confidence in the Lakers, while OKC stayed the course with their young core of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and James Harden. The defending NBA champion Miami Heat are the No. 1 team in the rankings.
While it's yet to be seen how the Lakers' new talent will play together, ESPN's Marc Stein that OKC has some uncertainty of its own:
"Am I, like so many out there, overlooking the fact that the Lakers still have lots of chemistry wrinkles to work out and health questions to answer? Guilty. Thing is, OKC convenes for camp amid plenty of its own uncertainty thanks to Harden's contract situation, Perk's health and that Finals flameout."
The Thunder open the season Nov. 1 on the road against the San Antonio Spurs.