NBA Eastern Conference Playoff Picture

10/26/13 by Aynom

LeBron James, Paul George

In my opinion, there are 4 types of teams in the east. Playoff locks, likely playoff contenders, unlikely playoff contenders, and teams that are/should be tanking. In this post, I will categorize the teams in the East.

Playoff locks

Miami Heat: Lebron James. No explanation needed.

Chicago Bulls: They were good without Rose, they’ll be even better with the former MVP returning.

Indiana Pacers: Paul George and Roy Hibbert are getting better every year. They will continue to be in the picture for the near future.

Brooklyn Nets: Let me remind you of their starting lineup: Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, and Brook Lopez. Everyone of these players have been to an allstar game during their career.

New York Knicks: Theres always a good chance you’ll make the playoff when you have an elite scorer like Carmelo Anthony. They didn’t make a major splash in the offseason, although they did acquire former 1st overall pick, Andrea Bargnani.

Likely playoff contenders

Cleveland Cavaliers: Kyrie Irving has quickly become one of the best point guards in the league. If he stays healthy this year they should be a playoff team. This team has been building through the draft and this year they added 1st overall pick, Anthony Bennett from UNLV but they also used free agency to acquire center Andrew Bynum. This is a young team who is finally ready to take the next step. My concern with this team is injuries. Kyrie Irving seems to get hurt every year. Bynum does too and still hasn’t been cleared to play in a game. Also, both Anthony Bennett and Anderson Varejao  had surgery this year.

Washington Wizards: John Wall took a huge step forward with his play in the second half of this past season. If Wall, and last year’s 3rd overall pick, Bradley Beal continue to develop this could be a formidable backcourt for the foreseeable future. They also will be a better team with the addition of Marcin Gortat.  If this team can stay healthy, I don’t see why they wouldn’t make the playoffs.

Detroit Pistons: Joe Dumars decided to make some big changes in the final year of his contract. He brought in Brandon Jennings, Josh Smith to team up with that talented frontcourt of Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond. They also drafted shooting guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope who was the SEC player of the year. I’m concerned because a lot of players on this team have a reputation of being inconsistent. They also have Josh Smith playing as a small forward which isn’t his natural position. I also wonder if there could be team chemistry issues since there were a lot of changes in the offseason.

Unlikely playoff contenders (some of these teams could be tanking by the allstar break)

Milwaukee Bucks: The Bucks decided let Brandon Jennings and Monte Ellis leave in free agency. They will be building their team around power forward Larry Sanders from VCU. Sanders emerged into one of the better defensive big men in the league last year but was overshadowed by others since he’s on a bad team in a small market. The Bucks added Caron Butler, OJ Mayo, Gary Neal, and Brandon Knight in the offseason. I think they’ll be better then last year but I don’t know if thats good enough to make it to the playoffs.

Boston Celtics: I had a hard time with categorizing this team. Rondo isn’t rushing his return from ACL surgery. But if he does return before the allstar break I think this team can contend for one of the final playoff spots. They aren’t a young team full of no names like other tanking teams. They still have Jeff Green, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Brandon Bass, and Avery Bradley among other young players with potential, like rookie Kelly Olynyk. I also expect Jared Sullinger to be a contributor if his back injuries are behind him (pun intended).

Charlotte Bobcats: Kemba Walker made big improvements in his sophomore campaign. I would expect him to continue to take leaps in his 3rd year in the league. Historically, point guards tend to reach a new level in their game during their 3rd year. D.Rose got his mvp his 3rd year, and CP3 emerged into a superstar his 3rd year as well. I’m not saying Walker will turn into Rose or Paul this year but I feel that he’ll take a big step forward and gain a lot of credibility around the league this year. Unfortunately, this team still has a long way to go. There is still a lack of developed talent and skill on this team. The frontcourt improved with the addition of Cody Zeller via the draft, and Al Jefferson via free agency They will make this team better but the Bobcats need more pieces to be taken seriously. I will continue to think that its unlikely they make the playoffs………. unless Michael Kidd-Gilcrest turns into a beast this season (which I don’t see happening).

Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks decided to finally part ways with Josh Smith after a season of trade speculation. Some Hawks fans felt that Smith held them back with inconsistent play, and poor decision making. Al Horford will have to try to carry this team but he has some help. The team added Paul Millsap and Elton Brand. Lou Williams will also be returning from an ACL injury that sidelined him for most of last season. If Jeff Teague can handle a bigger scoring role in the offense the Hawks could be a team to watch out for but again, it’s unlikely.

Wake me up when its the NBA draft lottery

Toronto Raptors: Rudy Gay is good but he isn’t good enough to carry this team to the playoffs. DeMar DeRozan is a good player but never turned into the star that Raptors fans had expected. They have some nice pieces on this team but they aren’t good enough to consistently contend with the teams mentioned above.

Philadelphia 76ers: They already decided to shut down Nerlens Noel for the season since he’s still recovering from an ACL injury he suffered in college. They also had to trade their allstar, Jrue Holiday, to acquire Noel. 76ers’ fans can atleast look forward to watching their other building block, rookie point guard Michael Carter-Williams.

Orlando Magic: They have some nice young talent led by 2nd overall pick, Victor Oladipo, but there are a few years away from being taken seriously around the league.

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