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My 2019-20 Eastern Conference predictions

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Roar Rookie
12th August, 2019
6

This offseason has gone on for far too long and I am starting to get a bit of cabin fever with this whole NBA thing!

Every bloody morning. Flicking through Twitter, waiting for some good NBA content to fuel me for another day of anxious boring waiting. Obviously, the free agency and the trades were a highlight but since then. Donuts. Nothing (crying emoji).

Anyway, enough of stupid rambling.

Let’s get down to this.

There’s been of offseason movement is going to make it a super interesting and super close race to the playoffs. It’s a betting nightmare, but someone has to predict. I have to fuel my fire.

Starting from 15 to 1

15: Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs. I think with the team in complete rebuild mode it’s going to be a long season. Expect Colin Sexton to be a highlight for a team that will struggle to get 20+ wins on the board.

I think Kevin Love is as good as gone. Will be traded to a contender or a team fighting for a playoff spot in the East. Heat and Detroit come to mind. Adding Darius Garland a great move. Man is going to be something. That’s for sure.

14: Charlotte Hornets
Now. I’m sorry MJ, but can’t see your boys winning more than 30 games. Losing marquee player Kemba Walker is ought to hurt and I don’t think that Scary Terry can live up to the hype.

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58 million over three years, that’s a lot of money. Wait and see how that goes but I am tipping them to finish low in the pecking order in the East. PJ Washington, a great addition, I think a star in the making for the Hornets.

13: New York Knicks
Some would say a failed offseason. From what presented as a remarkable opportunity to get a star, the Knicks added four PFs and some classy veterans. But why? How are you going to fit a log-jam of Julius Randle, Taj Gibson, Marcus Morris and Bobby Portis all into the same position?

They have coasted a bit here in my eyes. Not sure what they are trying to do. Expect another strong season from Mitchell Robinson. For mine, I am super excited to see RJ Barrett (No 2 pick in 2019 draft) finesse his way to a top three finish in ROTY voting. Bound to be a headache to guard.

12: Chicago Bulls
I like the Bulls and think that they will be very competitive this season but will just fall short of the playoffs.

Lavine. An excitement machine but what remains to be seen is how much help he can get from young pair Wendell Carter Jr and Lauri Markkanen.

A dangerous proposition if all up and going. Hanging out to see Coby White strut his stuff in the upcoming season, looks like a character that the NBA is longing for. Future star in the making too.

11:Washington Wizards
An interesting proposition is the Washington Wizards. In my eyes, their final standing depends on if Bradley Beal is willing to hang around and sign a max contract and how John Wall comes back from his injury.

Washington Wizards guard John Wall

Washington Wizards guard John Wall (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

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Both all-star talents at their best, expect their season to be promising if Beal has another season like his last and if Wall is back to his best. Could finish anywhere between 10th to 15th.

If Beal and Wall both want out, expect it to be a very tough schedule ahead. This prediction is on the basis they both stay. Very excited to see what first round pick Rui Hachimura does this season. Also, can’t wait to see Isaiah Thomas get another golden opportunity.

10: Atlanta Hawks
Love the combination of Trae Young and John Collins and believe that they will assert themselves as the top young duo in the East. A smoky for the playoffs in my eyes. I think that Young and Collins can take them that far.

Love the additions of Cam Reddish and Jabari Parker and isn’t it just great to see the dunking god Vince Carter go back around the ringer at the age of 42. What a man. Atlanta to push for playoffs, but may fall just shy.

9: Detroit Pistons
Whether Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond can work well together is still a bit iffy. They’ve had a full season to work together and I am not fully sold on if it’s working the way the Pistons anticipated.

Absolutely loved seeing the fact that they’ve added former MVP Derrick Rose to the line-up. Rose for mine still has plenty left in the tank. That 50-point game last year was definitely one of the highlights of the season, period.

Still rumours floating around about Blake Griffin, and if he will get shipped away. If that’s the case, they may drop further down the Eastern Conference but with him in the line-up expect them to hold around the 8-10th mark.

Blake Griffin brings the ball up court

Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin. (AP Photo/Duane Burleson)

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8: Orlando Magic
I think the Magic will creep into the playoffs just ahead of the Pistons who just fall behind them. Vucevic and Gordon are both proven top tier talents and I think with veterans around them with the likes of Terrence Ross and DJ Augustin, they will look to go back to back in making the playoffs.

Tipping them to just make it. But only just.

7: Miami Heat
I am excited by the Heat. I may be excited by the fact that Jimmy Butler is now in South Beach and the fact that Bam Adebayo looks to be an early candidate for Most Improved Player (by the looks of his offseason work), or it may just be the fact that they are my boys and I can’t wait to see my team back in action with a fun line-up.

I think the Heat’s standing depends on if they do end up adding that other ‘all-star calibre’ performer. It’s no secret they are keen on Bradley Beal and by the sounds of things, they are scoping out Blake Griffin and Kevin Love.

If they can add one of those mentioned players, then look out. A climb up the standings would be imminent. Justise Winslow will continue to impress, however may end up on an opposing roster if another star is signed. I also like the look of first round pick Tyler Herro.

6: Toronto Raptors
The reigning champions are bound to fall down the pecking order a bit with the loss of star player and Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard however they’ve hands down got enough to compensate for his loss.

The combative duo of Pascal Siakam and Kyle Lowry is still a scary prospect for any team and they will no doubt still be up there in playoff contention. I don’t see a full-on championship hangover occurring. Toronto’s going to be alright. Better than alright.

5: Brooklyn Nets
Extremely exciting offseason for Brooklyn, signing 2014 MVP and 2x Finals MVP Kevin Durant. A talent that is arguably one of the greatest players of the last decade. A devastating ruptured Achilles will keep him out for most of the season but expect fellow inclusion in former Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving to spur this team onto a high Eastern Conference position.

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A handy inclusion to say the least.

It’s not every day you can secure a 6x All-Star in Irving and Kevin Durant in the same offseason! Wow. If Durant’s rehab goes well, holy cow. Look out. Losing D’Angelo Russell to the Warriors hurts, but when you can replace him with Irving, then it’s not such a bad move.

4: Indiana Pacers
A firing Victor Oladipo is key to the Pacers having a strong upcoming season. The addition of Malcolm Brogden I really like.

Add into the mix Domantas Sabonis who is coming off a stunning 2018-19 campaign and Myles Turner who is emerging as one of the top bigs in the league, and there you have a force to be reckoned with.

Expect the Pacers to climb into the third round of the playoffs on the back of some stunning form from Oladipo who will be out to impress on the back of a debilitating injury that saw him miss much of the 2018-19 season. Much to prove for a strong Pacers team.

3: Boston Celtics
Kemba Walker. Jayson Tatum. Jaylen Brown. Gordon Hayward. Marcus Smart. Try and stop that combination. Add in their draft selections, the likes of Carsen Edwards and Romeo Langford and boy they are a handful.

Losing Al Horford to the Sixers and Kyrie Irving to the Nets ought to hurt somewhat, but rest assured I think they won’t have any problems finishing as a top four seed in the East. Potential Eastern Conference Finals candidate if things are to go right for them.

Expect Kemba to have an All-Star season and Jayson Tatum to further assert himself as a stud.

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2: Philadelphia 76ers
The Philadelphia 76ers. I can’t see many teams being able to beat a line-up that consists of Ben Simmons at the point, Josh Richardson at the shooting guard position, Tobias Harris playing the small forward with bigs Al Horford and Joel Embiid filling out the bigs.

It could arguably be seen as the most bruising NBA line-up in recent memory. A very physically imposing bunch of guys right there.

Losing some shooting power in Jimmy Butler and JJ Reddick hurts, but when you can bring in an All-Star in Al Horford and get back rising star Josh Richardson from the Heat for Butler, then you’re well placed to give the East a full-on shake.

My only worry is the bench. If an injury does fall to one of their key pillars there is a bit of a drop off to the next man up. But I think that there is definitely enough bench power there with the likes of Mike Scott, Jonah Bolden and James Ennis to give them a top two seed in a close Eastern Conference.

Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons (25) walks between forward Tobias Harris (33) and center Joel Embiid

Philadelphia 76ers guard Ben Simmons. (AP Photo/David Banks)

1: Milwaukee Bucks
Last year’s Eastern Conference finalists in the Milwaukee Bucks will be seeing red after just falling short to the Raptors last season.

When you’ve got the reigning MVP in Greek giant Giannis Antetokounmpo at your disposal, you’re going to go far.

After asserting himself as the top guy in the league, watch for the Bucks power forward to go from strength to strength. Another MVP calibre season will no doubt be on show. When you’ve got guys like Khris Middleton, Eric Bledsoe, Wesley Matthews and Brook Lopez feeding off his energy, boy it’s going to be hard to stop.

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Then don’t forget the bench. I can’t fathom how teams are going to combat sharpshooter Kyle Korver, George Hill and Robin Lopez, the list goes on and on.

I reckon they are a good chance to take it out. I’m pencilling in the Bucks as the Eastern champs.

Their bench power is too much to handle and their starting line-up is just way to strong. Only teams that will come close are the Sixers barring injury and the Celtics for mine.