I think the 4 months since the end of the NBA Finals have been the craziest 4 months the sport has ever fucking seen! I don’t think we have ever seen a power shift like we did this offseason. The defending champs have already been pretty much written off, while there are now two huge favorites to battle it out in the East this season.
The Bucks and the 76ers are the favorites to meet in the ECF this year and it’s pretty easy to see why. The Bucks were there last year and they are returning most their core which includes the MVP the Greek Freak. They did lose Malcolm Brogdon, but they seemed to play fine without him in the playoffs last year, so as much as it hurts to lose him, it won’t make that much of a difference.
The 76ers on the other hand lost before the ECF on one of the craziest buzzer beaters you will ever fucking see. They may have been a better complete team, but they had no answer for Kawhi and it led them to heartbreak. They lost Jimmy Butler and JJ Redick, but they bring back their core of Embiid and Simmons (who can maybe shoot now) and they added an extremely underrated piece in Al Horford. Horford is a defensive master who can spell Embiid without having to worry about that presence in the middle.
There are a couple of teams who can give these two a run for their money but one team I really think will be a tough out is the Celtics.
In my mind the Celtics right now are a modern day version of the early 2000s Spurs. They have one of the best minds in basketball in Brad Stevens and their success is dependent upon team basketball. That was evident by the way they struggled last year compared to the year before.
With Kemba in town, look for Tatum to breakout as a star this year with Jalen Brown right behind him. Another name to keep an eye on is Romeo Langford. The guy has all the fucking tools, but struggled in college. He still has it, and I think he will at least get into the ROY discussion at some point this season.
The biggest difference maker for the Celtics will probably be the loss of Al Horford. Horford is one of the best defensive bigs in the game and his loss will not go unnoticed and it may eventually be the downfall for them. They do have a guy in Grant Williams who, although smaller, can play a similar role to Horford at some point in the future.
The next tier of teams includes the Pacers, Nets, Heat, and maybe the Magic and Raptors. The Pacers are really the team to keep your eye on out of this group. They are extremely young and extremely talented. They will hopefully get Oladipo back sometime soon but even outside of him they have some real good assets on this team.
They got Brogdon from the Bucks in the offseason and they will pair him up with guys like Sabonis and Myles Turner. This team will make a run at a top 4 seed in the East.
The Nets of course made the most noise in the East this offseason grabbing Kyrie and KD. We all know KD is out for the season and I just don’t think Kyrie is a guy who can lead a very successful team. Kyrie was a huge contributor in the fall of the Celtics and you may see something similar in Brooklyn until KD comes back.
The Heat made a big splash in adding Jimmy Butler, but losing Whiteside in that deal was not great for them. Even though he always gets teabagged by Embiid, Whiteside is a beast and they will definitely miss him this year. More than anything, I am excited to watch Tyler Herro shock everyone and win Rookie of the Year. This kid is a fucking stud and he will be a huge part of any run the Heat are going to make.
The Magic are such a weird team. They have Vucecic who is just going to give you 20-25 and 12 every fucking year, but outside of that you don’t really know what you’re going to get. Will Mo Bamba take any steps forward this year? Is Markelle Fultz still a fucking chode? Who knows, they are a team who can compete for a 5 seed, but they are also a team who can settle into the lottery race real quick.
The Raptors are the defending champs, and they are getting no love. It is for good reason though. They lost Kawhi to the Clippers this offseason. He was the main reason they won the title, and him leaving is the main reason they may not make the playoffs this year. I don’t give a shit what anyone says, the Raptors will not make the playoffs!
Kyle Lowry is in the last year of his contract and more than likely they will deal him before the deadline. Pascal Siakam will take steps back as he doesn’t have anyone to take attention away from him. He will get the opponent’s best defender every night, and we saw how inconsistent he was in the playoffs last year. It wouldn’t surprise me to see them try and move Gasol and Ibaka too, although they may wait because both of their contracts are expiring and they may be able to work smaller deals with them for the future.
Finally we have the schmucks of the East which are the Pistons, Bulls, Knicks, Hawks, Cavs, Wizards, and Hornets. These are teams that have absolutely no chance at competing for anything higher than a 7 seed in the playoffs.
I know the Pistons have Drummond and Blake, but they had both of them last year which resulted in a sweep in the 1st round as the 8 seed. I think out of these 7 teams they have the best shot at the 7 seed, but either way they are looking at a sweep in the first round.
The Bulls are going to exciting as shit to watch this year. Lauri, LaVine, and new addition Coby White will make for a real fun season in Chicago. It may not be playoffs fun, but it will be fun all the same.
The Hawks are another team that is going to be real fuckin exciting this year. Trae Young made some real strides after the ASB last year and he is going to be electric this year! They have one of the best young cores in all of basketball as well with guys like Kevin Huerter, John Collins (fucking double-double machine), Alex Len, and their two draft picks, Cam Reddish and De’Andre Hunter. This team might be real scary within the next 2-3 years.
The Wizards are a fucking mess! Will John Wall and Bradley Beal coincide? Well if they don’t Beal is most likely gone, because Wall has one of the worst contracts in sports history and no teams are wanting to take that on. The Wizards are fucked for the near future.
The Cavs are a fucking disaster too. That’s what happens when you sell your soul to the devil for a ring. It worked out for them and now they are paying. They will most likely trade Kevin Love this year, but they do have some solid building blocks even though it makes no fucking sense why they drafted PGs in back to back drafts. They had Collin Sexton, and they drafted Darius Garland this year. Who knows what the fuck the Cavs are doing.
The Hornets will be a fucking dumpster fire this year! They missed the playoffs with a star on their roster last year. They replaced that star with one of the dumbest fucking contracts the NBA has ever seen and they may be the worst team in the NBA this year. I know Jordan loves basketball, but stop running a train on this franchise MJ, it’s really fucked up.
Lastly we have the Knicks. The New York Knickerbockers. Ok the Knicks will not be as bad as a lot of people think they might be. They didn’t add any stars, but they added some good pieces on small contracts to get them by for now. Now they are still going to be miserable, but they will not be the worst
team in the league again. They have way more talent this year and I think they can actually win 35-40 games and compete for the 8th seed. As a Knicks fan though, that is the last fucking thing I want. We NEED another tank job. Either way, they added Randle, Portis, and Gibson, and even if they aren’t good, those vets will be good for young guys like Mitch, Knox, and RJ.
12-New York Knicks
Check back later today for my Western Conference Breakdown and then I will get our team’s Finals picks out over the weekend!