Understand that I write this with much reluctance. I want to disregard the super team that is about to be formed in Cleveland, but my basketball knowledge prevents me from being a hater. LeBron James has pieces in Kyrie and Love that he never had with Chris Bosh and Wade. This team is obviously the favorite to win again, and with good reasons. New NBA coach David Blatt is expected to bring his winning ways to Cleveland, and with the injury to George and the Pacers losing out on Lance Stephenson there is only one team that has a real chance at beating the Cavs. The Chicago Bulls.
2014-2015 regular season record: 60-22
The only reason why I have to rank to the Bulls higher is Derrick Rose’s health is still the matter in question. The team’s success revolves around whether Rose can stay healthy. If he does, they have a legitimate shot at winning the championship. If not, expect them to fall much lower. The Bulls biggest advantages are in their roster- they have the deepest team in the east. If players like Snell, Mirotic, and Gibson all perform to the abilities we expect them to, they may have the best bench in the league. Thibodeau is going to have a field day with all the possibilities he will have at his disposal, compared to the past 2 years where talent and resources were scarce.
2014-2015 regular season record 58 -24
3. Miami Heat
The thought that the Miami Heat are no longer elite because they lost LeBron James is absurd and shows that your basketball knowledge is lacking. Yes, they lost LeBron. But they gain a lot more in signing Josh McRoberts and Loul Deng. This could also be a new start for Granger, who has not really been able to hit his stride since returning from his injury. The will still be a good defensive team. The biggest difference from this team is going to be how well they shoot the ball. Bosh will probably be the number one, and that by no means is a bad thing. Look for Bosh to get more looks, creating a different form of offense than what was offered when Lebron was on the team. Not to mention that this team still has Dwyane Wade. This is still a very good team, and they will have no problems playing in the Eastern Conference.
2014-2015 regular season record: 52- 30
Don’t look now, but the Hornets have quickly assembled a dangerous team. With the addition of Lance Stephenson, the team can be considered a serious contender in the East. Young prospects Like Zeller and Vonleh will look to develop their respective skills. Zeller will look to have a bigger impact on the offensive side, while Vonleh will look to work on his inside game. Both players balance each other out. Not to mention the quiet emergence of Kemba Walker has been hope to a team that seem perpetually hopeless. Look for this team to get even better defensively with the additions of Vonleh and Stephenson. This team is going to give the first 3 teams a run for their money.
2014-2015 regular season record: 48-34
5. Toronto Raptors
Getting Kyle Lowry to stay will pay dividends for this team. A young team with a lot of young talent, this team is primed to be better. But for the moment, they are still young and inexperienced; this all was evident during their series against the Brooklyn Nets. Players like DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas are still developing into key players, while Gay and Lowry are keeping the team on a high. This team is still going to have growing pains. Hopefully making it to the playoffs a second year in a row will prove that this team is ready to take the next step.
2014-2015 regular season record: 46-36
6. Washington Wizards
Before some of you jump the gun saying that I am hating on this team understand this- they did not add any pieces to their team that would allow me to say that they are a better team. They also lost Trevor Ariza. Yes they gained Pierce but the impact that he had on Nets last year in Brooklyn did not have the impact that was expected. He has become more of a role player than a 30+ min starter. This team will perform as close if not the same as they did last year. Do not forget, the competition in the East has quickly become a lot stiffer than it was last year. John Wall is going to need one more premiere player alongside with him before I can consider the team a contender. There is no team rooting for the Thunder to fail more that the Wizards are.
2014-2015 regular season record: 45- 37
7. Atlanta Hawks
I have to admit when I am wrong. When I first watched Jeff Teague in a game where he torched the Bulls a couple of years back I was so sure that he would never take off as an NBA point guard. I counted it as a fluke. But he has been working very hard to prove me, and the rest of the doubters wrong. Watching him at the tail end of the season and the series against the Pacers showed me that he has come a very long way from the player he was 3 years ago. I look for Teague to lead this team in a breakout season. Coupled with lunch pail and hard hat player Paul Milsap and the never healthy Al Horford, this team has a ton of potential. Should Horford stay healthy, this team can be a real dark horse. The length and size of the team is unique.
2014-2015 regular season record: 42-40
The Knicks only make it to the playoffs because of the awful injury that occurred to Paul George. The Pacers will struggle mightily with absence of PG and Lance Stephenson. As a result, this will leave room for the Knicks to stumble into the 8th slot. Yes, they were able to keep Carmelo Anthony. But that is the extent of talent the Knicks were able to secure. The problem the Knicks have is that they struggle with getting effective talent. The current pool of players has question marks up and down the roster. This team will lose in the first round to either the Bulls or the Cavs with little resistance. Additions Jose Calderon and Samuel Dalembert offer then different options in terms of what they can do offensively and defensively. However this team is a long way from resembling a playoff team.
2014-2015 regular season record: 39-43