The opening night of the NBA had a little bit of a surprise(the Warriors) and a little more of the same(the Knicks). As the season is only one day in, it’s not too late to do a preview of the Eastern Conference(Will Riley is doing the West). The preview will include projected standings, sleeper teams, bust teams, and who I think will represent the East in the finals this year. Hope you enjoy!
Detroit Pistons-The Pistons have a very solid roster and a good young core. They have an up and coming point guard in Reggie Jackson who averaged a very solid 18.8 points and 6.2 assists last season. Reggie will be feeding big man Andre Drummond, who averaged 16.2 points and 14.8 rebounds last season. With the new hack a shaq rules, Drummond’s production will only go up. Along with this pair, the Pistons have solid players like Tobias Harris, Caldwell-Pope, Marcus Morris(stretch 4), and Stanley Johnson. Over the offseason, they added a good backup point guard in Ish Smith and the huge Serbian big man Boban Marjanovic. Last year the Pistons went 44-38, and with nobody in their starting lineup over the age of 27, I can only see them improving this year. I have them at the 6th seed, but I can definitely see them making a run at the 4th or 5th seed.
Indiana Pacers-The Pacers lowkey had one of the best offseasons. They added solid guys like Al Jefferson, Jeff Teague and Thad Young. These additions will certainly take some attention away from Paul George, which will allow him to do more on the offensive end. With these additions, and George entering his prime, I believe this is the year Paul George wins MVP. The Pacers also have young STRETCH 5 and shot blocker Myles Turner, who showed that he could be an all star in this league some day. With all these pieces, the Pacers have one of the best starting lineups in the east and could very well make an Eastern Conference Final run.
Boston Celtics- Yes, I’m a little biased, but the Celtics, led by Brad Stevens, have a very underrated roster this year. They went 48-34 last year and added Al Horford, Jaylen Brown, and Gerald Green over the offseason. Horford(stretch 5) is perfect for Brad’s offense as he adds floor spacing and is a great option in the pick and roll. The Celtics may have lost Evan Turner in the offseason, who was the main facilitator and shot creator for the second unit, but I think Smart and Rozier will fill that void. Rozier looked good in the preseason and summer league and I think this is the year Smart finally breaks out on the offensive end. The Celtics are due for a good seed in the East and a potential Eastern Conference Final run.
Miami Heat-The Heat lost Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng, and Chris Bosh(RIP). There is just no way their current roster can repeat the success they had last season. White side, Dragic, and Winslow just won’t be able to do it on their own. Wade was the veteran presence, heart and soul of the team, and the guy who they went to when they needed a shot. Without him, along with Deng and Bosh, I have them missing out on the playoffs.
Charlotte Hornets-Last year, the Hornets were the 6th seed going 48-34. Over the offseason They lost Al Jefferson, Courtney Lee(wow I know), and JEREMY LIN. While these guys may not be the flashiest, they still added solid minutes and depth to the team. Also, the Hornets can never stay good and are a cursed franchise. For these reasons, I have them barely missing out on the playoffs this season.
ChicagoBulls-The Bulls traded D Rose this offseason and added Dwyane Wade, Rondo and just recently Michael Carter Williams. I just don’t see a way this roster works well together at all. The starting lineup will provide no floor spacing, which as we know is very important in today’s NBA. Rondo, Wade, and Butler all have big egos which will inevitably collide at some point in the season. Rondo’s assist numbers are inflated as he often times just held the ball last year in Sacramento’s offense just so he could get the assist. He was what we call an assist hog(confusing I know). The recent trade the Bulls made is puzzling to me as they got Michael Carter Williams, another guard on their team that can’t shoot. This team is a disaster waiting to happen.
Winner of The Conference
Cleveland Cavaliers-I really wish I could say the Celtics, but I’m realistic. Lebron has dominated the East for the last 6 years and I expect nothing to change. The Cavs brought back most of the guys they had last year and there is no reason they won’t be back to the finals come June.
By Adam Lew