With the NBA season just around the corner, many teams made major moves to get ready to contend. In the East, the biggest gainer is definitely the Boston Celtics with major offseason additions. Despite all the trades, the Cleveland Cavaliers are still the team to beat. Here are the top 5 teams in the Eastern Conference:
1 Cleveland Cavaliers—They just won the franchise’s first title. They have the best player on the planet. Their superstar core is still intact. And they are in a weak conference with no real competition. The Cavaliers are the favored team to return to the NBA Finals barring major injuries. The real lookout for the Cavs is their very shallow bench. They need to lessen the minutes of their Big Three to stay healthy in the playoffs. James has run a lot of miles and needs to slowdown.
2 Boston Celtics—The addition of do-it-all center Al Horford was major coup for the Celtics. They finally have a star that can bring them over the top. They also got No. 3 pick Jaylen Brown whose upside is still unknown but looks promising. The Celtics are stacked with young and upcoming talent and they are well poised to take over the East if not for the Cavs. Danny Ainge’s patience is now bearing fruit and there is nowhere to go but up for the men in green.
3 Toronto Raptors—Outside of Jared Sullinger, the Raptors are still the same team from last year. The combination of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan will get them by most nights but they need to integrate Sullinger quickly to have a defensive anchor in the middle. The Raptors will be pretty good but it won’t be enough to get them to the Promised Land. They simply need more quality personnel.
4 Indiana Pacers—The addition of Jeff Teague and Thaddeus Young will make the Pacers offense more dynamic. Paul George is back to his old form and even looks like an MVP candidate on most nights. One thing that would be interesting to watch is the continued development of sophomore Myles Turner. Turner is a very athletic big man who can even shoot the three. The Pacers have high hopes for him and even brought in Al Jefferson to guide him. The team will definitely be in the thick of things come April.
5 Atlanta Hawks—New addition Dwight Howard needs to stay healthy and become invested in his new team. The greatest thing going for the Hawks is the system already in place. A San Antonio “like” culture anchored on defensive intensity and quick passes for the easiest shot. From being the top Eastern team a few years ago; the Hawks will continue to regress without quality additions. The Hawks would be lucky to sustain the status quo.