NBA Eastern Conference Rankings 2018-2019 Season

Check out my Western Conference Rankings if you missed it. 

Lottery Bound

15 - Atlanta Hawks

usa_today_11310522.0.jpg


The Hawks could have drafted Luka Doncic, but instead traded down for Trae Young. Young might prove to be a good NBA player with his limitless range and great passing, but Doncic seems to be on another level; only time will tell. Regardless of how Young performs, this team is lottery bound and will be fighting for a number one draft pick.

Lottery bound, whether intentional or not

14 - New York Knicks

image.jpg


The Knicks had one of their best drafts in a while, and a "culture change" (whatever that means) after hiring Fizdale as their head coach. Apologies to all optimistic Knicks fans out there, but a guy by the name of Kristaps Porzingis tore his ACL.

This Knicks team will be led by Enes Kanter and Tim Hardaway Jr. God help us.

Clyde, the smartest basketball mind of all-time, had this to say: “The reality is without KP, man, we’re going nowhere. Without Porzingis, he’s our future. The worst thing that could have happened to the Knicks did happen. This guy blew his knee out mid season. Supposedly he’s coming back in January, but who knows. If the Knicks don’t get him back to his former grandeur things are looking pretty bleak for them.”

One thing I promise you, we will hear Clyde say "Swiss Cheese D" a record number of times this season.

A successful season will result in coach Fizdale going deep on the rotations to really give every player a chance. There are a lot of things to discover. Knox seems to be the best prospect so far.

13 - Orlando Magic

aaron-gordon2.jpg


In a league where perimeter play is thriving, Orlando continues to stock up on big men. I have no idea what this team is trying to do.

Aaron Gordon has not made that next step into All-Star territory. He is only 23 years old, so time is on his side. Orlando re-signed Gordon to a 4-year-deal. Question is, was he re-signed to be a building block for the franchise, or a trading piece this offseason for more assets? Again, I have no idea what this team is trying to do.

12 - Cleveland Cavs

usatsi_9948967.jpg


Tristan Thompson still believes the Cavs are the team to beat in the East... and apparently so does Dan Gilbert. Cavs management needs to accept the fact that they will not be a playoff contender and focus on rebuilding. They just signed Kevin Love to a mega deal and they would be better off trading him while they still can. You never know if his health can make him un-tradable.

I think the Cavs are trying to win this season, but they're so bad that I don't see them even sniffing the playoffs in a crappy Eastern Conference.

11 - Chicago Bulls

dunn2.jpg


Despite nagging injuries, Lauri Markkanen seems to be the real deal. Players like Jabari Parker and Zach LaVine need to learn how to play defense before this team can be considered a threat to make the playoffs, but the foundation is there. This season should focus on the growth of their younger players resulting in Chicago as a destination to draw in free agents.

Four teams to battle for the 7th and 8th seed

10 - Brooklyn Nets

dangelo-russell-jarrett-allen-media-day.jpg


Coach Kenny Atkinson has already proven to be a very good coach. The Nets have a deep roster consisting of decent rotation players, but no one to lead them. Will D'Angelo Russell make that next step to lead? Probably not.

This squad will run and jack threes at a high rate. Brooklyn was second in the league in 3 pointers attempted last season, only behind Houston. Everyone is young and will score in transition. They will pull out enough wins to potentially go higher on my list and make the 8 seed, but probably not, because screw the Nets.

9 - Detroit Pistons

blake_griffin_pistons_marquee_.jpg


One would think a team with Reggie Jackson, Blake Griffin and Andre Drummond should be enough star power to make the playoffs in a weak Eastern Conference. You would typically be right, but I like the below teams more from a depth standpoint, and to survive an 82 game season... Depth matters, the Pistons don't have that.

8 - Charlotte Hornets

Kemba-Parker.jpg

Injuries have continuously prevented this team from achieving anything but mediocrity. Kemba Walker had a career year last season, so if that continues and guys like Kidd-Gilchrist/Batum stay healthy, Charlotte might be able to make a jump this season. Also factor in guys like Tony Parker, Malik Monk, Miles Bridges and Frank Kaminsky coming off the bench, and you have a solid rotation in a weak Eastern Conference.

7 - Miami Heat

download-1.jpg

I like to think of the Heat as the anti-Knicks. This team does not die. Regardless of who is on the roster, they are guaranteed to play hard every game and grind out victories. The Dwyane Wade going away party will hopefully be at a minimum and not prevent Miami from some victories, unlike what Kobe did to the Lakers his final season.

A hair below home court advantage, but should clinch the playoffs

john-wall-otto-porter-bradley-beal-home-celebrate.jpg


6 - Washington Wizards

Dwight Howard has had a very interesting career. Not only was he a top big man on Orlando who willed his way to the finals, but everyone also loved him. Fast forward to where he is now, and he has been one and done on four straight teams. Even if he ends up being a problem in the locker room, I have too much trust in John Wall to rank this team any lower.

Beal and Porter Jr. are the perfect compliment to Wall. Both are high percentage shooters who help space the floor, and Markieff Morris is the tough guy. If Dwight Howard decides to not demand the ball and play more like DeAndre Jordan, then the Wizards could rank even higher, but I'm not willing to bet that.

cut-1-678x381.jpg


5 - Indiana Pacers

Was last year an outlier? Did the Pacers overachieve? I don't think so, but that is a narrative that the Pacers will need to shut down if they want to be considered a conference finals contender.

Tyreke Evans is a great pickup for the Pacers. He can either energize the second unit, or allow Oladipo to play more off-ball. Very underrated signing, no matter how Nate McMillan decides to utilize him.

Might be too young still, but talented enough to make the Finals this year

gettyimages-866650118.jpg


4 - Philadelphia 76ers

Some might think the Sixers should be higher on this list and I have high hopes for this team. They have three players (Embiid, Simmons and Covington) who have the potential to make the NBA All-Defensive Team this season.

We don't know how good/bad Fultz is yet, but look for the Sixers to try and make him look as good as possible to either be a weapon in the playoffs, or trade bait at the deadline.

I think the Sixers will be great, I just think the next three teams are better.

cropped_capture-2.gif


3 - Milwaukee Bucks

Some might think this is too high, but Giannis is that good. The Greek Freak is only 23 years old, and is probably not in his prime yet. He was a MVP caliber player last season, and with a bit more team success under coach Bud, I think he will win MVP this season.

There were not many tweaks to their roster (they got Brook Lopez). One might argue they got worse by losing Jabari Parker. The way I see it, their young core is a year older, and when you have so many good wings in addition to a 7 foot point guard who is unguardable and can guard all five positions, you have a decent shot at winning out the East.

Their defense has underachieved, so let's see if they can pick it up this season. The Bucks have the tools to be a switch-heavy juggernaut of a defense, but too many brain farts have prevented them from reaching their peak. They're a young team. I know the next two teams will be top 5 defensive teams.

Favorites to make the finals

download.jpg


2 - Toronto Raptors

The Raptors might end up having the best record in the East; I truly believe they are that good. Kawhi is an upgrade from DeRozan and that's no knock on DeRozan. Kawhi was a top 3 NBA player before Zaza Pachulia single handedly ruined the Spurs.

Another underrated part of the Kawhi deal was the addition of Danny Green. His three point accuracy has diminished over the past couple seasons, but he's still been a lockdown defender who you can't leave open on the offensive end. Add in a solid bench, and an all-star point guard in Lowry, and you have one of the best all-around teams in the NBA.

i.jpg


1 - Boston Celtics

The health of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward are still in question. I don't believe they are 100% yet. Still, the Celtics were a game 7 away from making the finals without their two best players. Jayson Tatum is already looking like he might be the best player on the team, and he's a baby.

The Celtics have the best depth in the entire NBA, even better than the Warriors. Obviously the Warriors have better star power by a wide margin, but if I had to choose a team to beat them, this is the best shot I can think of.

Comments