NBA Eastern Conference Preview
With less than two months until the tip-off of the NBA season, what better way to get ready than by previewing the league. We start with the Eastern Conference. Fortunately for anyone who watches the NBA, the East should be much better than the poor excuse of a Conference it was last year when only 6 of the 15 teams finished at or above .500. Despite being better, the conference is still in four main groupings:
Tier 4: The Untouchables– This tier is for those teams that still won’t be able to put terrible seasons behind them.
15. Philadelphia 76ers– The 76ers just cannot seem to catch a break. They will be without Joel Embiid for yet another season. On a bright note, Jahlil Okafor will more than likely provide some entertainment to a fan base that has been deprived of so much good basketball.
14. New York Knicks– Carmelo has a positive outlook for the team going into this season. However, he may be the only one. This team quite possibly has less talent than last year. That may be a quick conclusion, but only time will tell.
13. Orlando Magic– The addition of Shabazz Napier will possibly alleviate some pressure on Victor Oladipo. However, this team will not Houdini their way out of another losing season.
12. Detroit Pistons– Detroit is borderline here. They lost a big piece in Greg Monroe, However they added some players that can contribute, Danny Granger and Ersan Ilyasova can help the team to possibly slide up to the 9 or 10 spot if the team can mesh well.
Tier 3: The Fill-Ins- This tier will be fighting for that coveted 8 seed… where they may get to play five more games.
11. Boston Celtics– The Celtics will need a lot of luck to get to that 8 seed. The addition of David Lee will be good for both the team and him, assuming he plays at the level he is capable of. They are still one or two key pieces from moving up a tier.
10. Brooklyn Nets– Brooklyn is a coin flip to be in this position. Their season will depend a lot on how well they can play under new leadership with Deron Williams gone.
9. Charlotte Hornets– After an offseason that involved adding Nicolas Batum, Tyler Hansborough, Jeremy Lamb, Spencer Hawes, and Jeremy Lin, the Hornets look to slide into the playoffs. They may just have the team for it, but if not, at least they have a roster filled with some of the top former college players.
8. Indiana Pacers– Indiana was left at the 9 seed last season even with PG-13 missing almost all season. With him back and the signing of Monta Ellis, this is more along the lines of a worst case scenario for the Pacers. If they stay healthy, the could easily make the leap to the 5 or 6 seed.
7. Washington Wizards– When healthy, the Wizards have one of the best guard combos in the league. However, they are going to need the bench and their big men to be drastically improved to have a shot at making a deep playoff run. On a positive note, John Wall is already fond of rookie Kelly Oubre Jr., and if Wall is happy, that bodes well for the team.
6. Miami Heat– Another year has passed, and D-Wade’s knees are a year older. Chris Bosh found a new gear last year (before being shelved due to blood clots), and the addition of Amar’e Stoudemire brings at least another rebounder to the team. The thing to watch this season is the start of what should be a new era in Miami. The seasoned Goran Dragic with his new contract and the young duo of Hassan Whiteside and Justice Winslow could spell an upswing for the Heat.
Tier 2- The Runner-Ups: Try as they might, these teams are fighting for the King’s scraps.
5. Milwaukee Bucks– After years of being a laughing stock, the Bucks are coming into their own. With a young and talented roster getting back their star forward Jabari Parker and the addition of Greg Monroe, who is coming off of a season that he averaged a double-double, Milwaukee is ready to be taken seriously.
4. Chicago Bulls– Hard to believe that a lineup as good on paper as Chicago’s could only be a four seed. However, the Bulls have to get through the entire season with their roster healthy if they are to be the contender that they can be.
3. Toronto Raptors– The Raptors stepped into success last year and added Demarre Carroll to make their lineup even better. If the bench plays a decent role the Raptors could contend for the two-seed.
2. Atlanta Hawks– Fresh off of being the surprise team of the year last season, the Hawks did not sit back and admire their work. With the addition of Tiago Splitter and Tim Hardaway Jr. they look to build on last season, to avoid being stomped out again.
Tier 1: Top Dog
1. Cleveland Cavaliers– No surprise here. They didn’t enter the playoffs as the one-seed in the East, but had no problem running to the Finals. Had this team been healthy, they would have been Champions. Kyrie Irving will miss the first few months, but a Cavaliers team at 75% is better than most of their opponents.
Stay tuned to MyFantasySportsTalk for the Western Conference Preview.
Malachi David covers the NBA and NFL for MFST, you can follow him on Twitter @malachee89