Eight NBA tiers: Rating all 30 teams, from top to bottom

Can the Lakers compete for back-to-back titles? (1:49)

Dave McMenamin details the road to a potential back-to-back championship run for the Los Angeles Lakers. (1:49)

It's time for another preseason tradition: breaking 30 NBA teams into tiers. Grouping teams -- as opposed to 1-30 power rankings -- nudges you to consider the league holistically. It forces difficult choices, even if you know the boundaries between tiers are fluid (and that you will be wrong): Why is Team X in the inner circle of contenders, but almost-equal-on-paper Team Y one tier lower?

The order within tiers does not matter.