The draft is over and all the big names are signed. Now it’s time to look ahead to this upcoming NBA season by predicting the playoff seeding in the Eastern Conference:
8 – Detroit Pistons: The Pistons won’t be better than last season, but will be just as good. Blake Griffin is still a stud and Andre Drummondand Reggie Jackson fit with him better than most expected. The addition of Derrick Rose, who shockingly returned to a good player last season, will help. In the end, however, no team will fear Detriot come playoff time.
7 – Toronto Raptors: Toronto cannot recover from losing Kawhi Leonard, but this is still a scrappy team with talent. They are well coached and have a home-court advantage that will serve them well over the course of the regular season. Pascal Siakam is a star in the making and the roster is good enough to make it back to the playoffs.
6 – Miami Heat: Jimmy Butler is again The Man and is joining a relatively talented roster in South Beach. While limited in upside, this is a team that has very little bust potential. That is, of course, unless they trade for the extremely risky Russell Westbrook, as some around the league expect they will do.
5 – Indiana Pacers: Malcolm Brogdon is a big addition and will certainly improve the Pacers from the moment he steps onto the court. When Victor Oladipo will return is unclear, but his game on the court is far from a question. When he gets back up to speed, the Pacers will go on a run. Indiana should finish top five in the conference barring another marquee injury.
4 – Brooklyn Nets: Until Kevin Durant comes back (likely in a year), Brooklyn will be what Boston was last season behind Kyrie Irving: A good but inconsistent basketball team. Irving doesn’t really make his teammates better, but he doesn’t make them that much worse. The Nets will be one of the most fun teams to watch this upcoming season and one of the top teams in the East.
3 – Philadelphia 76ers: The 76ers are going to have a bizarre lineup this season with the loss of Jimmy Butler and addition of Al Horford. They are as good as it gets in terms of size and defense. Philadelphia will struggle late in games with no clear-cut closer now. All in all, the end result for the 76ers will be close to what they were a season ago.
2 – Boston Celtics: After disappointing nearly their entire fan base, the Celtics come into the season with a ton of hope. The moody, difficult Irving is gone and in comes Kemba Walker, who fits what they are trying to do. This will help Jayson Tatum grow into the star he should be. Without Irving, Brad Stevens will have this team competing at a high level each and every night.
1 – Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks have the best roster in the NBA and Giannis Antetokounmpo projects to be the best player in the regular season once again. Giannis and the Bucks resemble LeBron James and the Cavaliers coming off a disappointing Eastern Conference Finals loss in 2009. Spoiler, the Cavs did well in the 2010 regular season.