The Eastern Conference was the central hub for NBA offseason news. Most of the shock came from Cleveland, Ohio, but there was still plenty of excitement elsewhere. And lastly, get well soon, Paul George.
The biggest shocker for NBA fans? The Eastern Conference is still the “least” conference. Like last week’s Western Conference’s power rankings, these are the five best teams in the east.
The honorable mentions:
New York Knicks
5. Charlotte Hornets
The newly renamed Hornets (again) lost only Josh McRoberts to the offseason. Their additions, to a playoff team, were exceptional. First, the biggest haul was Lance Stephenson. Stephenson was the best dribbler and penetrator for the Indiana Pacers and should be a great utility guard for the Hornets. The additions of Marvin Williams and Brian Roberts should provide for good bench depth and necessary shooters for a team that lacked outside threats. The core of Kemba Walker and Al Jefferson should prove to be enough for a top playoff seed.
4. Toronto Raptors
The four and three seeds for these rankings are interchangeable depending on user opinion. The argument against the Raptors is the lack of depth. After the big threats of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, the firepower tails off. The combination of Amir Johnson and Jonas Valanciunas is not threatening enough to warrant any double-teams. The powerful backcourt and good outside shooting, as well as team synergy (no big losses in the offseason) should equal another playoff appearance for the Raptors.
3. Washington Wizards
This is the Eastern Conference’s scariest wildcard team and rightfully so. The lethal backcourt, alone, is enough reason to avoid a trip to Washington D.C. The team is beautifully balanced with veterans and emerging stars and the front office even let Trevor Ariza go without a max contract. It’s a new-look Wizards and they’re positioned to be a threat to any team in the league. No team in the Eastern Conference boasts the kind of veteran and youth depth the Wizards will employ. John Wall, Bradley Beal, Paul Pierce (with Otto Porter Jr.), Nene Hilario, and Marcin Gortat is a hell of a starting five.
2. Chicago Bulls
The Bulls played great basketball last season without Derrick Rose, so that argument is invalid. Now, Rose is healthy again and the team replaced Carlos Boozer with Pau Gasol. If the league had nightmares about Joakim Noah‘s passing ability and versatility, Gasol should be an offensive nightmare. Noah’s stellar defensive game with the offensive prowess of Gasol and Rose is deadly and should allow for the Bulls to easily cruise to the playoffs. This is an all-star team in Chicago and entertaining to boot.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers
What beats an all-star team? A dream team. The dust isn’t settled yet, but the move of Kevin Love to the Cavaliers should be the cherry on top of the LeBron James‘ cake. A starting core of Love, James, and Kyrie Irving is a ridiculously young and powerful trio. This team has the makings of a successful championship contender for years to come. Nothing more to see or say here.
Photo Credit: Jesse D. Garrabrant/Getty Images
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