I’ll admit, that I’m addicted to the NFL and college football. When it comes to the basketball and the NBA, those same addictions apply to them also. Like always, the NBA offseason was amazing with several big names signing new deals. The biggest acquisition saw LeBron James head west to the Los Angeles Lakers. There’s drama within the Minnesota Timberwolves organization after Jimmy Butler demanded a trade. Speaking of Minnesota, they showed their allegiance to Karl Anthony-Towns by giving him the super max. Carmelo Anthony was trade d to Atlanta, released and signed with the Houston Rockets. Kawhi Leonard and DeMar DeRozan switched teams and Devin Booker signed a huge deal to stay in Phoenix. In a surprising move, DeMarcus Cousins joined the Golden State Warriors on a one-year deal. Paul George, Chris Paul and Kevin Durant remained with their teams with Durant only signing a one-year deal.
With all that happening, we’re expecting another exciting season around the league. Despite it’s the beginning of the 2018 season, free agency for next season has already been talked about. Before we talk about the 2019 season, let’s get this one out of the way first. If healthy, we’ll see who the top 8 teams from each conference should be.
Last season, the Celtics dealt with a major blow when Gordon Heyward went down for the season. Kyrie Irving went down later in the year and the Celtics were without him throughout the playoffs. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier step their games up big time. The Boston Celtics enter the season as the favorites to win the Eastern Conference and could possibly challenge the Warriors if they meet. There will be talk about the future of Kyrie Irving because there’s been numerous rumors of him leaving. Either way, Boston should finish atop of the East and they should make the NBA Finals.
People tend to forget how great of a season the Toronto Raptors had last year. For me, they upgraded when they traded for Kawhi Leonard and shipped DeMar DeRozan. If Kawhi Leonard can remain healthy and be the player he was in San Antonio, they could easily challenge Boston for the top spot. Another factor in the success of the Raptors is how they react to their new coach, Nick Nurse. After a very successful stint as Head Coach, Dwane Casey was fired despite being the coach of the year. With the great, young talent to go with the veterans, they’re poised for another great season.
The Philadelphia 76ers will be my 3rd ranked team in the Eastern Conference. They will contend for the top two spots, but I’m comfortable with them being in the three spot. If healthy, Joell Embiid and Ben Simmons could be contenders for league MVP. Markelle Fultz will be a huge factor in their success this season. The 76ers are hoping to capitalize on their great run from a year ago where they reached the Conference Semifinals. Will the 76ers remain healthy this season? Could they challenge the Raptors and Celtics for the top spot?
Everything with the Milwaukee Bucks success revolves around the Greek Freak. Last season, he got off to a great start as the Bucks looed amazing. As the season went on, defenses were able to frustrate him to making bad decisions. Coming into this season, the Greek Freak has stated he’s been working on his 3-point shooting. If Giannis is able to hit the 3-pointer consistently, this will be trouble for the Eastern Conference and the league. Giannis will be an MVP candidate and if he can carry the Bucks like we know he can, they could finish as high as 2nd in the East. Milwaukee will be without Jabari Parker, who left via free agency and went to Chicago. Will Milwaukee benefit from LeBron heading out west?
I’ve been a fan of the Washington Wizards for years now. John Wall and Bradley Beal still remain one of the top backcourts in the league. After having a great season in Charlotte last year, Dwight Howard signed with the Wizards. Dwight Howard is dealing with back issues, which could hamper him throughout the season. Throughout the years, the Washington Wizards underachieved and sooner or later, they have to finally step up to be the team many thought they should be. LeBron James have been a thorn in their side for years and they could benefit from his move to Los Angeles. Can the Wizards finally make that move in the Eastern Conference?
If you want to talk about surprise teams from last year, the Indiana Pacers will be on top of that list. Victor Oladipo was one of the biggest surprises of the league last year and came really close to eliminating the Cleveland Cavaliers. Indiana invested in their future by inking Myles Turner to a $72 million extension over the next four years. If Indiana can play like they did a year ago, they could finish in the top-4 of the Eastern Conference. With Victor Oladipo not being under the radar this season, can the Pacers continue to improve?
The Detroit Pistons will have Blake Griffin for the entire season this year. Andre Drummond is a double-double machine and it seems like he’s been working on his handles and shooting. They made a good signing by bringing in veteran Jose Calderon. In the Eastern Conference, the Detroit Pistons is one of my sleeper teams. Reggie Jackson plays with a chip on his shoulder and the Pistons starting five could be great, if healthy. Detroit could be a very good squad and they should make the playoffs this season.
Cleveland will be without LeBron James as he’s off to Los Angeles and a 4-year deal. Kevin Love inked an extension to remain with the Cavaliers for the foreseeable future. Tristian Thompson have stated that the East still run through them. Larry Nance Jr. just signed a 4-year extension to remain with the Cavaliers. Cleveland drafted Collin Sexton, whom could be the best point guard coming out of the draft. Jordan Clarkson need to improve, Sam Dekker was a fantastic addition and Rodney Hood should have a good season. With the Cavs make the playoffs? Will they overachieve and finish higher than 8th?
The Chicago Bulls could be a sleeper team in the Eastern Conference. Also, the Miami Heat could be a sleeper team and think they could finish as high as 6th. How do you think the Eastern Conference will turn out? Leave a comment below about my predictions.