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NBA Power Rankings: Superstar era in full swing, and don't forget Heat

by | NBA Writer

The NBA's ad campaign for this season, "BIG," is annoyingly accurate because we're looking at one of the biggest seasons in history. This superstar era is in full swing and the big boys have only gotten better.

The 2013-14 season kicks off Tuesday and here's just some of what we're going to see:

A free agency period that mirrors if not exceeds the massive world-changing 2010 class in the summer.

A draft class sparking as much hype as any since 2003.

All-time great careers (Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Steve Nash, Manu Ginobili) nearing the end.

And then there is the possibility of a three-peat for the Miami Heat. All of this within a single season -- and we still haven't mentioned emerging stars like Anthony Davis and Kyrie Irving ... or Chris Paul's best title chance.

But at the top, as it consistently has been: Miami. This may be the end of the Triad's run. If so, they're likely going out with fireworks. Behind all the intrigue of LeBron James' Decision 2.0 is a team that started off awkward but has learned how to function, excel and dominate. Yet it's a tough road ahead.

Only five NBA teams have achieved a three-peat -- two of them were different versions of Jordan's Bulls with a baseball break in between. Since the ABA merger? Two franchises have achieved it. The last team to make four consecutive Finals? Bird's Celtics in 1987.

What about the Heat's Finals opponent in last spring's classic? In the past 20 years, only eight teams have returned to the conference finals after losing the Finals; only four have reached the Finals. Only two have won.

So yeah, the stakes are high, the competition even higher. Let's begin.

Note: These rankings are not indicative of the order by season's end. It's based on who has the most momentum, talent and reason for confidence heading into the season.


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