10/19/2019 0 Comments
NBA Eastern Conference Rankings
It's finally here. No more waiting. The NBA season officially starts tonight!
So here's some reading material for the commercial breaks.
1. Milwaukee Bucks (Projected record 60-22)
The reigning MVP has never stopped improving from season too season. And after losing Malcolm Brogdon, Giannis is going to have shoulder even more of the load for his team.
But that is going to be no problem for him and the Bucks. If they stick to the same strategy of spacing the floor and letting shooters shoot, they will replicate their 60 win season.
They also united Brook and Robin Lopez together for the first time in their NBA careers, so that's gotta be some good karma.
2. Philadelphia 76ers (56-26)
In Ben Simmons first two seasons, the 76ers entered the playoffs as a 3 seed. But now with a reloaded roster, they look like the best team on paper in the Eastern Conference.
The addition of Al Horford will be the veteran presence and defensive mind they needed in the front court. Joel Embiid has been one of the top ten players in the league, but the 76ers lack of depth with big men in the past has made his job all too difficult.
The trade for Josh Richardson gives them another shooter who can defend just about anyone in the league at the guard position, similar to what they have in Tobias Harris. Their size and overall defensive dominance will carry them to a lot of victories this season.
3. Brooklyn Nets (50-32)
Even without Kevin Durant this season, the Nets still have the third best roster in the East. Replacing D'Angelo Russel with Kyrie Irving now gives them the best point guard in the conference. And putting him alongside Caris LeVert gives them a dangerous set backcourt that only a couple of teams will be able to defend.
It'll be interesting to see who they decide to start on a night-to-night basis. Rodions Kurucs, Joe Harris, Jarret Allen, and newly acquired Taurean Prince will all be fighting for minutes on a team with plenty of options.
And if all else fails, they can turn to Spencer Dinwiddie to score for them in bunches off the bench. Watch for Head Coach Kenny Atkinson to get some attention for the Coach of the Year award.
4. Miami Heat (48-34)
Pat Riley really pulled this roster together in unbelievable fashion this summer. They were capped out on a roster that was constantly going to be a .500 team. But due to Jimmy Butler's desire to play there, and Portland's desire for a big man, they were able to swing a couple moves to put themselves right back into the playoff conversation.
They gave Jimmy the max contract and shipped Hassan Whiteside off to the Pacific Northwest. And the fact that they were able to get Meyers Leonard back in that trade just made it all that much sweeter.
Goran Dragic still has a lot left in the tank, even if he hasn't lived up to his price tag. And rookie Tyler Herro is the exact kind of scorer they needed to fit their ongoing puzzle. I wouldn't be surprised if they continued to make moves as the season progresses.
5. Indiana Pacers (46-36)
Last year the Indiana Pacers were the 5 seed even though they only had Victor Oladipo for about half of the season. This season will be the same, but they will have him for the second half of the season. Which could possibly make them the most dangerous team come playoff time.
They made some sneaky good moves that may not impress the casual fan, but basketball nerds love this team. The additions of T.J. Warren and T.J. McConnell give them the two best T.J.'s in the NBA. But the addition of Malcolm Brogdon is the move that really gave them a successful summer.
A one-two punch in Myles Turner and Domantas Sabonis will give the opposing team no breaks as these two go hard every minute they're on the court. Another brother duo in Aaron and Justin Holiday will help build a family relationship in the locker room. And scorers Doug McDermott and Jeremy Lamb will make life easier for Oladipo when he finally does return with a vengeance.
6. Boston Celtics (46-36)
This Celtics team lost a lot more than they gained this summer. Losing Kyrie, Horford, and Aaron Baynes took a lot of the heart and soul out of their roster. They replaced that heart and soul with Kemba Walker, who has yet to prove himself as a consistent winner in the NBA.
Their only addition to their front court was Enes Kanter, who looked amazing in his time with Portland. But after him, their depth in big men is alarming. Best case scenario is that Daniel Theis is their second best big man, which isn't a recipe for a championship.
But their best move came just one day before the season, when they gave Jaylen Brown a four year extension. Out of all the young talent they have on their roster, I believe that he is the one guy with the potential to be an All-Star caliber player for years to come.
7. Toronto Raptors (43-39)
The reigning NBA Champions haven't lost all hope after losing the best player in franchise history. This team still has talent and has one of the best coaches in the NBA in Nick Nurse.
Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol, and Serge Ibaka all exorcised some demons of past failures when they finally achieved the championship they've been longing for. Their veteran leadership is going to carry this team with their positive mindset.
And while the old guys will be leading by example, young guys in Fred VanVleet and Pascal Siakam will take on a bigger challenge on both sides of the court. This may end up being the most carefree team in the NBA because nobody will expect them to be successful without that guy who moved out West.
8. Detroit Pistons (42-40)
Blake Griffin's second full season with the Pistons should be a fun one. Last year, he made the All-Star game and was on the All-NBA team. He has refined his game and become a guy who can shoot the ball from any spot on the court and can guard any position. He seems to be doing just fine without the spotlight of LA.
There's nothing anyone loves more than a story of the resiliency of the human spirit. And Derrick Rose embodies every part of that. His ability to continue to fight every single year to play in this league is unbelievable. The people of Detroit are going to love his tenacity and work ethic, if they don't already.
A possible breakout season for Luke Kennard is going to be the difference between them being or not being a playoff team.
- Atlanta Hawks
The depth of young talent on this team should have any Hawks fan excited. Trae Young is already the leader of this squad. And adding rookies Cam Reddish and De'Andre Hunter should help them get on House of Highlights more than a few times. Look for John Collins and Kevin Huerter to have breakout seasons.
- Orlando Magic
The Magic are like that fly in your house that you can't seem to get rid of. You can hear them fly by you, and everytime you get ready to kill it, it somehow gets out of your reach. They're annoying as hell and I have no idea how they're still here, but they'll be in the mix for the playoffs all the way up until the final game of the season.
Middle of the Pack
- Washington Wizards
This team would be in the "Hopeless Teams" section if it wasn't for Bradley Beal. That guy is an unbelievable talent. And if you're a Wizards fan, you better cherish every second you have with him.
- Chicago Bulls
This roster is actually very heavy with talent at the top end. Zach Lavine, Lauri Markkanen, and Wendell Carter Jr. are a good young trio to build your franchise around. But head coach Jim Boylen is more of an authoritative figure than a great basketball mind. So expect them to be very disciplined on the court, but all the wind sprints in the world won't help get them to the playoffs.
- Cleveland Cavaliers
I have no idea what this team is doing. One year later they drafted Colin Sexton, they draft Darrius Garland. They're stuck with Tristan Thompson forever. And they won't free JR Smith. But at least they have Cedi Osman. Hopefully they trade Kevin Love to a good team so he doesn't have to rot there forever.
- New York Knicks
The Knicks haven't been relevant since Carmelo's first couple seasons with them. And they haven't been good since they made the Finals as an 8 seed. Don't expect them to be good anytime soon. But watching RJ Barret shoot the ball 25 times a game should be fun.
- Charlotte Hornets
I should've created an entire category for them called "The Worst Team of All-Time." This team has the potential to lose 60+ games. It'll be like watching a little kid hurt themselves. You won't be able to stop laughing, no matter how mean it actually may be.
The Eastern Conference may not have the depth of superstar talent like the Western Conference. But those playoff teams will make the conference worth watching.
However, I do highly recommend that when the Cavaliers play the Hornets we should all get together and watch what I am dubbing The Worst Game of Basketball Ever Played. I may even write a screenplay about it.
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