Analyzing and Projecting the weak and unpredictable Eastern Conference

Staff Writer: Corey Darko

The Eastern Conference is projected to be bad and interesting at the same time. Fun young teams like Philly and Milwaukee and interesting storylines like Kyrie Irving to Boston Celtics and wade to Cleveland Cavaliers will be something to keep an eye on. However, it’s time to start projecting eastern conference standings.

  1. Cleveland Cavaliers: Despite Cleveland Cavaliers most likely sleepwalking through the regular, they will still be the first seed thanks to their superior depth. Losing Kyrie Irving hasn’t hurt the Cavs at all as they are deeper without Kyrie. Having basically a starting lineup come off the bench in Derrick rose, Dwayne wade, Tristian Thompson, Derrick Williams and Channing Frye come off the bench will take a lot of pressure off LeBron James, When Isaiah Thomas returns in January from his hip injury, this Cavs team will be loaded. Only concern with the Cavs is they don’t have many young legs as they are the oldest team in the league. However, with superior depth this team will win around 55 games and be the first seed. Prediction: 55-27.

 

Caption: Kyrie Irving and LeBron James  celebrating a score before Kyrie Irving was Traded to Boston. Credit Photo Courtesy Of Creative Commons. Gathered by Elena Waldrop

2. Boston Celtics: There are legitimate question marks about this Boston Celtics team. Is Kyrie Irving ready to be a leader/number 1 option? Woodstock High School junior Hunter Leonard stated, “I don’t know if Kyrie is a good enough leader to be a first option.” Will the defense be worse without Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley? Will the rebounding issues improve? Despite these concerns I still believe the Boston will be the second seed. Irving’s leadership concerns are overblown as The Cleveland Cavs team were built around Lebron’s strengths not Irving’s. Gordon Hayward has improved every season and will only get better. Mix that with the great coaching of Brad Stevens; the Celtics are poised to improve. Projection: 54-28

 

Caption: Isaiah Thomas driving right at Lebron James before getting traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Credit: Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons. Gathered by Elena Waldrop

3. Washington Wizards: Despite questions about their depth, the Washington Wizards will still improve. John Wall is easily the best point guard in the East and is poised to put up big numbers/compete for an MVP this year. Woodstock High School junior Bailey Rende stated, “I think John Wall is poised to take the next step by winning MVP this year.” Bradley Beal is poised to take the next step and not only become the best shooting guard in the east, but top five in the league. Young players like Kelly Oubre and Otto Porter are poised to internally improve especially since Oubre will have more responsibility with Markeef Morris out at the beginning of the year. Despite bench questions, the wizards still improved their bench over the offseason with getting Tim Frazier, Mike Scott and Jodie Meeks. With best backcourt in the east of Wall and Beal leading the way, this Washington Wizards team is poised to improve. Projection:50-32

 

Caption: John Wall and Bradley Beal celebrating an and one as they are quickly becoming one of the best back-courts in the league. Credit: Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons. Gathered by Elena Waldrop

4. Milwaukee Bucks: As tempting as it was putting the Philadelphia 76ers or Toronto Raptors here, I had to roll with the Bucks Giannis Antekempo is a superstar and is poised to make the leap into MVP contention. This isn’t only Giannis; Kris Middleton is poised to have a breakout season as a second option to Antekempo. Reigning Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon will continue to stay consistent. The risky player in Thon Maker. Despite his impressive skill set, his struggles in the summer league and lack of strength is still concerning. However, he will still improve enough to be a positive player. Despite many question marks in depth and Jabari Parker’s injury, the Milwaukee Bucks are poised to improve enough to become a top 4 seed. Projection: 48-34

 

Caption: Giannis Antekempo driving in for a dunk as he is quickly becoming an emerging young star in this league. Credit: Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons. Gathered by Elena Waldrop

5. Toronto Raptors: The Toronto Raptors will take a step back. Losing P.J. Tucker and Patrick Patterson will severely hurt their spacing and defense. However, the raptors still have the talent to be a top 5 seed. Kyle Lowry and Demar DeRozan are still one of the best backcourts in the league. Serge Ibaka can still protect the rim and space the floor and C.J. miles can still space the floor. The young guys on the bench will have to step up for the raptors to remain a top 5 seed, however this team, until the playoffs start, are a very solid team in the regular season. Projection: 47-35

 

Caption: Terrance Ross attempting a slam dunk before being traded to the Orlando Magic. Credit: Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons. Gathered by Elena Waldrop .

6. Philadelphia 76ers: The process is finally completed. Philadelphia 76ers boasts the best young core in the NBA in Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid and Markelle Fultz(despite a funny-looking jumper). If Joel Embiid plays 70 games, this team is easily a top 4 seed but just making the playoffs will be enough for Philadelphia Sixers fans. The scary thing is there core players are surrounded by veterans and high end young talent. J.J. Reddick is the perfect fit to this team since he’s a floor spacer who doesn’t need the ball a lot. Richaun Holmes is an energy big man that can space the floor. T.J. McConnell is a great floor general and Jared Bayless is a great hooter. Finally, Dario Saric is poised to compete for sixth man of the year as his scoring ability off the bench will be very valuable. If this team stays healthy, there is no way they won’t make the playoffs in the pathetic eastern conference. Projection: 45-37

 

 

Caption: Nerlens Noel dribbling the ball down the floor before being traded to the Dallas Mavericks. Credit: Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons. Gathered by Elena Waldrop.

7. Charlotte Hornets: Despite missing the playoffs next year, I believe the Hornets will have a bounce back season. Kemba Walker is still one of the premier point guards in the east and has improved every season he’s been in the league. Malik Monk is a promising rookie who can score points from day one. Despite not the same player, Dwight Howard is still an above average center who can protect the rim and catch rebounds. After missing the playoffs last year, the Charlotte Hornets are poised for a bounce back season. Projection: 40-42

Caption: Kemba Walker dribbling the ball down the floor as he is quickly becoming one of the best point guards in the East. Credit: Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons. Gathered by Elena Waldrop

 

 

Caption: Dwayne going up for a slam as he is easily one of the great Miami Heat players of all time. Credit: Photo Courtesy of Creative Commons. Gathered by Elena Waldrop

8. Miami Heat: Despite going 33-11 the second half of the season, I’m not sold on this Miami Heat team. Not only do they have little floor spacing, but they lack a star (despite how many times waiters claims he is). They also missed out on getting Gordan Hayward. Despite the flaws with this team, I believe they can still win enough to sneak in. Goran Dragic quietly averaged 20 points per game last year and is one of the most underrated point guards. Hasson Whiteside has expanded his game every year and is more than just a rim protector. Josh Richardson and Justice Winslow are poised for internal improvement. Finally, Dion Waiters is in great position to have a breakout season as he will most likely be Miami’s number 1 option. Despite their lack of elite talent, their a well- coached team under Eric Spoelstra and will do enough to sneak into the playoffs. Projection: 39-43

 

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