|The Heat enter this season looking to build off last year's Finals loss. (Getty Images)|
Updated Dec. 20
The Association is back after a five-month lockout, and it's radically different.
The Mavericks lost three key members of the team that kept Miami from hoisting the Larry O'Brien Trophy. The Heat added Shane Battier. The Clippers are a threat as chaos reigns in Los Angeles. Cats and dogs, living together, mass hysteria.
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It's a new NBA.
With the Mavs letting so much talent go, the defending champs are slipping a bit. The Heat step in to fill the gap by having signed veteran defensive stopper Battier and by already having spent some time together at full strength.
The Bulls also begin 2011-12 near the top, but their disappointing playoffs -- including a tough first-round against Indiana and a difficult second vs. Atlanta before getting shelled by the Heat -- keep them from the top spot as we kick off this season's power rankings.
The Grizzlies and Clippers are so high on our list already, we're pretty sure it's been foretold in prophecy in advance of the end times. This, more than anything, should tell you how different things are.
To get you acquainted with the new landscape, we present our preseason edition of the CBSSports.com NBA Power Rankings.