Eastern Conference Predictions
By Pierson Butler
With the dust settling after a hectic free agency period, we can now take a look at the teams and their full rosters coming into the 2015-2016 season. Here are my preseason seeding predictions presuming the players stay healthy.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers
I was hoping last year that Lebron James would not fit in with his new team and the Cleveland experiment would fail. Sadly, that is pretty much impossible based on Lebron’s dominance in the not-so-hot Eastern conference. I actually hope Kyrie Irving stays healthy because he is so much more fun to watch then Lebron. I still do not think Kevin Love fits in with this team but hey, if he wants to ride some coattails then let the man do it.
2. Chicago Bulls
In my eyes, Derrick Rose is running on toothpicks right now and one more knee injury could really set this team back, but with Jimmy Butler just signing his new contract, I believe this team has the right tools to succeed in this conference. Some people say Butler will be an MVP candidate but I don’t totally see it. There are too many stars in the West, but that doesn’t take away from how effective he is on the court with Rose. I would be shocked if the Bulls are any lower than a 2 seed.
3. Miami Heat
This one was a toss up but I actually really like the Dragic-Wade-Bosh combo and if Bosh can stay healthy and take on a leadership role, this team will turn some heads. I really hope they can contend against the Cavaliers and deflate Lebron’s ego a bit. If they can get one more big name, maybe a Jamal Crawford type player, this team will be at the top of the conference. I still think the fan base is lacking though.
4. Atlanta Hawks
“Hey Pierson, they were the top seed last year, remember?” Yeah I remember. Whatever. I do think Mike Budenholzer is a great coach and I love a team with one player not dominating the jersey sales. Kyle Korver’s shooting ability has really improved over the course of his career and the offense the Hawks use is perfect for him to flourish in the corners. It is really too bad they lost DeMarre Carroll because his defense on Lebron James last year was something only Andre Iguodala could replicate.
5. Milwaukee Bucks
This team surprised everyone last year and I think they can do it again this time around. Jason Kidd found the right team for him to coach. The Brooklyn experiment was a failure and now he has a very successful young team to build on. Seriously, the Bucks just signed Chris Copeland who is 31 years old and the oldest on the team now. But Giannis whatever-his-last-name-is is a young stud and has one of the biggest upsides in the game.
6. Washington Wizards
John Wall is the most explosive point guard I have seen in a while, besides Russell Westbrook. But he gets up the floor in about three dribbles and five seconds. The Wizards backcourt is very impressive but I think they really need to replace Paul Pierce, a player who can take the big shot in the big moment. He is the reason they did as well as they did in the playoffs last year.
7. Boston Celtics
I actually think that the Celtics will have a chance to get the 6 seed but so that people don’t think I am being completely biased I put them at 7. The addition of David Lee and Amir Johnson is huge and our front court already is looking much better. I think David Lee will bring a veteran presence and I truly believe he can get back to his all star level with this team around him. I hope he starts and flourishes. But Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley are a solid defensive and offensive backcourt right now. I love what I am seeing from Brad Stevens and it seems he is learning more and more as his roster is becoming more solidified.
8. Toronto Raptors
This team is good and I probably should have them higher on the list but I just don’t see them doing as well this year. The addition of DeMare Carroll will help defensively but they also lost Amir Johnson and Lou Williams. We will see if Demar Derozan can step up and lead this team but I don’t see a team that can win more than 43 games here.
I’m sure there will be some changes as the season approaches but as of now this is how I see the Eastern conference panning out. Thanks for reading and soon I will post my Western Conference predictions.