Tough Competition in the Eastern Conference
Despite a consensus belief that the 2014 NBA Draft will be stacked teams seem to be willing to be competitive and not tank. Aside from Philly getting Noel and NO's 1st round pick 2014 and Boston finally parting ways with Garnett and Pierce teams haven't done much to tank and most are improving and making real commitments to compete. Even Boston didnt really tank it is proven that Pierce and Garnett are not the same players from years ago Boston understood the longer they waited to get value out of Pierce and KG the less value they would get and KG and Paul cannot carry a team like they did in the past.
Alot of teams are going to be competing for the final playoff positions. I think the top five positions are pretty much claimed with Miami, Indiana, Chicago, Brooklyn and New York (but even New York could be in trouble with such an aged roster and a Stoudemire, Bargnani $30-Mil frontcourt). 6-8 teams will be competing for the 6, 7, 8 positions in my opinion.
Toronto and Washington both looked like playoff teams toward the end of last year. Both very young teams that have continued to improve as the season played out. I expect these two teams to finish 6th or 7thwhen they get a full season together. Wall was injured to start the year for Washington, and Gay was still playing for the Grizz. Not to mention both teams picking up good role players.
Cleveland signed Bynum to compete and have tons of young developing talent. An 8th seed and playoffs s Lebron would be a dream come true for the organization. They have done alot of rebuilding now they want to build the winning mentality.
Atlanta signed Maxiell to replace Smith and compete also Atlanta wasn't always a constant 5-8 playoff seed they had alot of losing seasons and don't want to go back to the bottom of the league because it is a tough climb back up unless you got lucky in the draft for 2-3 seasons.
Charlotte adds Jefferson who was arguably the second best player on the FA market. Also drafted Cody Zeller another big that can immediatly learn from Jefferson. They needed low post scoring and veteran leadership in a very bad way. Another year of growth for Kemba, MKG, Biyambo and Taylor. Retaining Henderson is a must if they let him go for nothing it would be a huge mistake.
Picking up Josh Smith and Billups is big for the Pistons. Detroit has been very active in improving the team this year. Dumars is probably on the phone as your reading this! Yes I'm over exaggerating but it seems like Knight is being shopped despite what Dumars tells the media and even Jennings and Rondo have been discussed in media articles as potential trade targets. Drummond looks like he will have a breakout year and is the young core Detroit played last year will get some veteran leadership this year with Chauncey.
Boston did get rid of KG, Terry, and Pierce but Wallace, Humphries and Evans are no slouches. Courtney Lee, Avery Bradley, and Jordan Crawford are good role players and the frontcourt has good young talent with Sullinger, Olynyk and Melo. Bass will play well and to win and Green will likely have a breakout year. With Rondo in Boston this team can still get into the playoffs, although I do think Boston will continue to deplete the talented vets from the roster Brad Stevens does not coach to lose.
Milwaukee made the playoffs last year so to day a year later after losing Ellis and replacing him with Mayo they won't make it again wouldn't be fair. They need a PG though and Brandon Jennings may have to be the guy. They still have a growing frontcourt and explosive scoring on the backcourt if they resign Jennings and are still a threat.
What do you guys think about the final three positions in the East?
Toronto- They have strong wing scorers in Gay/Derozen/Ross. Lowery is a solid athletic Pg. Jonas V showed a lot of promise in summer league and could be a strong low post threat for them with workmen type forwards in Acy and Psycho-T supporting him.
Washington- Wall is healthy which means he will put up big numbers. Beal is a year older. Otto is a glue guy ready to fit in right away. Older Vets for Bigs. They will go as far as Wall carries them and how well Beal shoots off Wall's passes.
Detroit- I had a REALLY hard time betting against Irving here, but Drummond showed a level of maturity that he never had last year and I think he will grow quickly. Monroe Stabalizes the frontcourt which allows Drummond be erratic/exciting (depending on how you look at it). Knight is a smart and solid guard with Stuckey provide vet support. Josh Smith... actually I have no idea how Josh Smith fits into the equation but he is a top talent.
im interested in what you mean by drummonds maturity.. because he's still EXTREMELY raw on the offensive end.
He has always dominated because of his size and athleticism. He very often had lazy stretches in games where he clearly wasn't trying his hardest.
At UCONN he had a very frustrating year with all the shoot first guards and his lack of offense touches negatively effect every other part of his game.
This past season however, he seemed focused and working hard throughout the entire season, which is tough since everyone hits the rookie wall at some point.
They have a ton of talent, wouldn't surprise me if they snuck into the playoffs. Tobias Harris averaged 20 points in April last season and 17 points since he has been with the Magic. Nikola Vucevic surprised everyone with his rebounding abilities. I really like what the magic did last year by giving their young players an opportunity to prove themselves. They end up being really bad and pick up Oladipo, who seems to be able to play the 1 or 2. The Magic's offseason with guys like Arron Afflalo may not be over yet either. I don't think the Magic are tanking this year, they are going for it. Also, Jacque Vaughn is a great coach, I remember him being an extremely smart player back in his Kansas days. Being an assistant coach behind Gregg Popovich helps too.
The Magic are going for a top 5 pick this year and won't try to get anywhere near the playoffs. They want to let the young guys mature a bit more while also going for a high pick. I can't see a situation where the Magic make the postseason unless Harkless and Oladipo both become very good players this year. And I don't see that happening this soon
they signed millsap. maxiell went to the magic
I meant Millsap not Maxiell...
Atlanta didn't really get worse this year they just swapped Smith for Millsap and lost Zaza. I find it hard to believe they miss the playoffs with Lou Williams coming back, and the team getting a more balanced offence. The Hawks have also done a great job acquiring young talent like Schroeder, Cunningham, Jenkins, Scott, Muscala and Nogueira. Having a mix of talented veterans and talented young players is important. Having Teague, Williams, Korver, Millsap and Horford show the young guys how to be professional basketball players on and off the court will do alot for the work ethic on the court. To me they are similar to the Utah Jazz in the way they are developing talent just a few years behind in the process.
compared to the west, the east is significantly weaker depth wise after the top 5.
Last year the 2 seed Knicks had a worse record than the West's 5 seed.
I agree. The East improved a bit. But it is still weaker than the West by a good chunk.
Also I agree that the Pistons are going to come on strong behind Drummond this year. The Bulls should be at least as good with the return of Rose. The only East team that I see as getting dramatically weaker are the Knicks with the addition of Bargs and MWP and the loss of Kidd. Shump has to dramatically improve if the plan is to play him 30 minutes a night. And while Bargs is a nice fit, he is a bad player. I don't see how you can play him and Melo on the court at the same time without getting killed on the boards.
While I think Boston has a roster that could get them to the playoffs. I think they will tank. Watch for them to start Olynck and him get killed on the boards and defensively. Starting Green will also kill them defensively (and with bad shot selection) and I bet that is what they do.
Knicks are not so old my friend. All the older players from last season are gone except Prigioni and the added MWP. Knicks are easily top 5 in the east. Miami will cruise to the 1 seed because of the lack of elite comp in their division, the other four seeds in the East can fall in any order. Knicks and Nets most likely to be in top 4. Pacers and Bulls have the toughest division opponents thus one of them most likely will be the 5th seed.
Knicks Depth Chart as of Today
1. Raymond Felton
2. Pablo Prigioni
3. Oscar Bellfield
1. Iman Shumpert
2. J.R. Smith
3. Tim Hardaway Jr.
1. Carmelo Anthony
2. Metta World Peace
1. Andrea Bargnani
2. Amare Stoudemire
3. Kenyon Martin
4. C.J. Leslie
1. Tyson Chandler
2. Earl Barron
Well, I feel like the last 3 remaining seeds will be:
Now, I definitely think Boston would make the playoffs, but I am just assuming that they are going into rebuilding mode and will possibly tank. I also hate that I'm counting out Atlanta, who I know has a good chance to make the post season again (unless they are planning on taking too?)
For Washington, I think a lot of people believe that they can make the play offs, especially with John Wall's incredible performance when he returned (not to mention the team's win-loss record during that span)
With Cleveland, they have a young core of Irving, Waiters, Thompson, and now Bennett. Now that they have added Bynum, the Cavs have really put a solid rotation, at least on paper. If Bynum can play at least 65 games, I think the Cavaliers will definitely make the playoffs this year.
For the Raptors, I definitely think they have a chance. I mean, I may be a little biased here because I live around the Toronto area, but their future is pretty bright. I know Wiggins has said that he would like to play for the Raptors, but I can't see the Raptors being so bad that they can even have a chance for a top 3 spot in the lottery. So for Wiggins, I'm sure the Raptors' future with him will be through free agency years from now down the road.
Again, this is just my opinion, and I'm sure everyone has theirs. I'm just really excited to see how the Eastern conference is going to go down this year. It'll be nice if we can see a few new teams make the playoffs. It'll be a great day for Cavs fans (myself included, as I lived in Cleveland when I was younger) if the team can make the post season again, and I hope the best for the team.
I am predicting Cavs, Hawks, Pistons, Celtics, Wizards and Bucks will be in a dog fight for the other 3 spots. There will be no nights off in the Central.
I think Charlotte, Boston, and Milwaukee have little to no shot to make the playoffs this year in the crowded East. Toronto is talented, but have hinted towards a tank (trading Bargs and waiving Camby). They would also be able to have a shot at Canadian Wiggins. My last three in would be:
6. Wizards: Wall is healthy and played extremely well last season. Otto Porter struggled in the Summer League, but his pain will be alleviated when playing with Wall and Beal. He won't have to be the focal point or do too much. He certainly fills a hole for that team.
7. Cavs: Major additions for the Cavs this off season with minimal losses. They add Jarret Jack, Andrew Bynum, Anthony Bennett, Earl Clark and Sergey Karasev to form a very deep team. Bundle that with a healthy Irving and Varejao (if he is good to start the season) who averaged 14 and 14 before getting a blood clot, and you have an incredibly improved team. I'm not betting against Kyrie. I'm also a gambler, and willing to gamble that Bynum will provide excellent value.
8. Pistons: This one was really tough as the Pistons were fairly dreadful last season. They lose Calderon, but gain KCP and Josh Smith. Drummond has looked great in the Summer League, but yes, it's just the summer league. They could steal the 8th spot and get the privilege of being swept by the Heat/Bulls.
Outside looking in: Hawks and Bucks. The Bucks lost too much for me to put them in here. They lost Monta, Redick, and Dalembert. I know they gained Mayo, Ridnour and Zaza, but they still might lose Jennings. Too many questions. The Hawks losing Josh Smith is a major blow. They also lose Korver and Zaza. They also gained a few pieces, but not enough firepower to get into the playoffs. Also wondering how Jeff Teague will react to being matched.
If you write a deep analysis of the celtics as you did for some of these other teams you know celts have just as good as chance making it in the playoffs.
Why the teams u listed are still on the bubble
1. Wiz - the good john wall, the bad john wall. The guys is a sg playing pg. At times loves to chuck the ball. Porter had an awful summer league, basically looking slow and unable to jump vs others. The team now has no legit sf, nene is injury prone and jury is out on vesely.
2. Cavs - got decent talent but i doubt it will all mesh together. Jack is a chucker, irvings defense is mediocre, waiters is a chucker, bennett defense is in question. Nothing is sure about these cavs
3. Pistons - no true pg is the reason they will struggle. And also josh smith is not a sf. Goodluck with him chucking the ball, especially at crucial moments
Why celts have just as good chance
Bos - rondo is one of the best pgs in the league. Jeff green is a handful at the sf and really brought his game to another level vs the knicks. Ab 2nd team all defense team. Sullinger was one of the better rookies last year and if anything can rebound. Olynyk looked impressive at the summer league games . also the team has very good depth picking up favrani, humphries, wallace (both who started for brooklyn), courtney lee, brandon bass. Prob a legit backup pg away , unless pressey is going to make noise.
Celts also is a team that has been built on defense first. The system is still there vs some of these other teams. Imo they will surprise
Believe me, being from Boston, it hurt me not to put them in the top 8. The major reason that I didn't put them in the top 8 is that Ainge doesn't run the mediocrity treadmill. His team will either be great or bad, not in between. The last time he was in this situation, he got a lot of stockpiled assets and eventually traded them for KG and Allen. I don't think he traded away Pierce and KG just to be an "OK" team. On that topic, it's my belief that he might not be done dealing. We could possibly see a Rondo trade come about once he returns from injury and proves his worth. As I agree with you, Rondo is a top PG in this league and a real floor general. He plays with length and passion that few possess. But, he most likely won't want to be part of any sort of rebuilding process and could bump heads with Stevens. Hopefully, they can keep the likes of Bradley, Sully, Olynyk and Green in a rebuild, but it's possibly that one of them might have to be let go to get the type of result they want... to be bad. Any other player could be available. In my heart, I want them to surprise and make the playoffs, but in my brain I know that the best route would include being bad before being good.
I agree with alot that you have said. Rondo is key. If he can play like 08-10 , not care about as stats much vs getting ppl involved, celts have a chance. If he plays like last year and selectively passes the ball, doesnt run with the ball, celts will be bad and he will get traded.
Im really intrigued by pressey so far and if rondo is not ready at the beginning of the year , want to see what the undrafted kid can do. His tenaciousness and passing skills reminds me of rondo when he came into the league first