2016-2017 NBA Eastern Conference Predictions:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers: 55-27
Will take a step back in terms of wins but still the class of the East. Resting key players ala LeBron Will the key to success this season. A title hangover is likely this season but luckily the Eastern Conference isn’t the West so they should cruise to the ECF with relative ease. They need to get JR Smith signed and I can’t wait to see a full season under Lue. Sure the win total will drop but it’s title or bust in Cleveland.
2. Boston Celtics: 53-29
The addition of Horford will prove the difference for Boston this season.T his team is loaded with guys with chips on their shoulders and it starts with All Star guard Isaiah Thomas who people still slight among the leagues best Point Guards. That usually a good thing for a young team with a young coach that gets his guys to play hard. Watch out Cleveland that #1 seed could be in jeopardy.
3. Toronto Raptors: 49-33
Lowry and DeRozen will continue todazzle up north and with a healthly Valančiūnas ECF 2nd straight ECF is not out of the possibilities.
4. Indiana Pacers: 46-36
If all breaks right could challenge for a top 3 seed but 46 wins seems about right for Indy. The continued development of Myles Turner is a key this season. Paul George is a top 2 player in the East and that alone is enough to propel them into home court advantage and MVP caliber season from George coupled with the additions of Al Jefferson and Thaddeus Young should have Naptown poised for a deep playoff run.
5. Charlotte Hornets: 44-38
Last year wasn’t a fluke, even with the losses the Hornets should continue to succeed in the East. Kemba Walker should take that next step toward a top player in the East this season. Also a part of their success falls on the health of Michael Kidd-Gilcrist if he can play 70 games this season that will be a huge plus defensively and could be the difference between a 1st round exit or a deep playoff run.
6. New York Knicks: 43-39
Super team not even close but if everyone remains healthy this should work out into a playoff berth. Sure it could go the opposite way and implode but let’s remain optimistic. Phil Jackson has slapped together a team who on paper Melissa would want to play with which is a big deal keeping Anthony interested and focused will go a long way in the Big Apple.
7. Orlando Magic: 41-41
The additions on the interior of Ibeaka and Biyombo will propel the Magic into a playoff berth. Look for Peyton and Gordon to take a big leap this Season. Sure this may be a stretch having then in the playoffs this season but in the East anything is possible.
8. Detroit Pistons: 40-42
If not for the Reggie Jackson injury the Pistons may be higher but it could be a big hole to over come if they start out slow. Stan Van Hindu has a pretty versatile roster and with one of the top bigs in Drummond but that lack of PG Depth will keep them from taking the next step fans in the motor city expect.
9. Atlanta Hawks: 38-44
Still a sound team but not convinced Schöder can lead this team to the playoffs and Howard is a drop off from Horford. The Hawks hope Superman coming home will return him to prime Howard but don’t count on it and after him and Schöder there isn’t a lot of scoring punch with a declining Korver as the next best option could be along year in A-Town.
10. Milwaukee Bucks: 35-47
Athleticism and length for days but the Middleton injury doesn’t help and serious lack of PG depth will keep the Young Bucks out of the playoffs for at least one more season. Expect the Greek Freak to take that next step towards stardom (not even going to try and butcher that name) with him having what I expect to be a career year they may flirt with that 8th seed for a good part of the season but as mentioned above lack of a decent PG will crush them.
11. Chicago Bulls: 31-51
There is no possibility of this actually working, right? Three alpha players who need the ball to be successful who also can’t shoot threes well disaster written all over this. Not to mention a very inexperienced roster around them.
12. Washington Wizards: 25-57
Questions surrounding Wall and Break coexisting on the court, Beals inability to stay healthy , and questions surrounding young player being able to live up to potential it’s going to be a long year in Washington. Luckily it’s projected to be a deep draft.
13. Miami Heat: 22-60
Call me crazy but maxing out Whiteside isn’t the smartest move in the world. This team is is definitely not headed in the right direction this would be a perfect season to sell and tank for lottery balls and I don’t put it past Pat Reilly to start recouping lost assets in hopes to reload for a future run at another title.
14. Philadelphia 76ers: 17-65
It will all depend on how much Simmons and Embiid play this season but with Saric coming stateside the Sixers actually have some promise this season. Expect them to finally pull the trigger on an Okafor deal to add some much needed back court help to pair with Simmons. We should start to see this process pay off.
15. Brooklyn Nets: 15-67
Nothing even remotely close to be excited about with this team. Unless of course you are a Celtics fans getting to add a top 3 lottery pick to an already deep team will be huge. Does anyone else remember when this team was “cool” hell even Jay-Z tried, I fell victim and bought hat even. Well those days are long gone. Enjoy Jermey Lin Brooklyn!
Eastern Conference Finals Prediction:
Cavaliers over Celtics in 6 games
1. LeBron James Cleveland Cavaliers
2. Paul George Indiana Pacers
3. Kemba Walker Charlotte Hornets
Rookie Of The Year Candidates:
2. Dario Saric Philadelphia 76ers
3. Caris LaVert Brooklyn Nets
Coach of The Year:
Sure a full season of Tyrone Lue and a number one seed will get some votes but what Brad Stevens is going to do with the Celtics this season will get all the praise for people around the league. The 1-2 of Horford and Thomas flanked with plenty of help and depth should net him his first Coach of the year award.
There you have it folks the Eastern Conference Preview is in the books. Be on the lookout for the Western conference preview. As always comment and share your thoughts. We are on Twitter @The__Junkies and on Facebook @JunkieSports.