Two weeks ago, I wrote about the best teams in the Western Conference. Out in the East, there is still no clear-cut “dominant” team but the strongest team on paper is the Cleveland Cavaliers with the Chicago Bulls in 2nd place. Here are my top teams in the Eastern Conference.
1) Cleveland Cavaliers (1-3)— Sure the Cavs have a mediocre 1-3 record to start the season but don’t expect this to last not when you have the best player on the planet. LeBron James will need to find some chemistry with his new teammates before they figure how to start winning again. This should come very soon. The Cavs have enough talent (i.e. Kyrie Irving, Kevin Love) and depth to blow past the weak Eastern Conference. I wouldn’t be surprised if James makes his 5th straight trip to the NBA Finals.
2) Chicago Bulls (4-1)—The Bulls are locked and cocked. The return of Derrick Rose after missing most of two seasons is a godsend. The team was actually very good without their star and now has a shot at returning to relevance. The Bulls are loaded with young talent and added the veteran presence of Pau Gasol. They also have exciting youngsters in Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic. The Bulls also have a tried and tested coach in Tom Thibodeau. This just might be their year.
3) Miami Heat (3-2)—Despite the loss of LeBron, Heat management quickly rebuilt the team to ensure they remain competitive. Competitive at least in the East. Chris Bosh is now the main man but is backed by only the ageing Dywane Wade. New acquisition Luol Deng is not exactly a superstar but he will fill up the stat sheet just the same. Will the Heat make waves? Probably not. But in this weak conference, stranger things have happened.
4) Toronto Raptors (4-1)—The Raptors bagged the No. 3 seed last season and there is no reason why they can’t up the ante. The Indiana Pacers are no longer in the running and they match-up well against the Heat. Guard Kyle Lowry had a breakout season in 2013 and will continue to be the cornerstone of the franchise.
5) Washington Wizards (4-1)—Guard John Wall has gotten off to a good start this season averaging around 20 points and 10 assists. His partner in crime shooter Bradley Beal is still injured but once he comes back, they will form one of the most potent backcourts in the league. The Wizards brought in Paul Pierce for help at the wing and hopefully, he can impart his leadership and experience in the locker room. The Wizards are just one good big man away from being a consistent contender.