Not so bad at all
Not so bad at all
Raptors, Cavs, and Bulls will be the top 3 teams, I could easily see a tie between all of them or just two.
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Let's run down the candidates:
Chicago- It all depends on Rose and Gasol. I don't believe we are that far away from Pau Gasol turning into a pumpkin. He'll still be a solid forward, but I don't think he's a game changer for this team if Rose isn't healthy. If Rose is healthy and at full strength, this is probably a 60 win team and easily the number 1 seed. If Rose plays to lower capabilities, say Rajon Rondo type effectiveness, this is still a better team than last year, but is probably looking at 50-55 wins, which is the same as 4 or 5 other teams in the conference. If Rose is injured again, this is probably a number 6 seed.
Cleveland- I feel like the floor for this team is 50 wins, which is higher than anyone else. That said, I don't feel very confident about them getting much more than that. Having Lebron means really switching up what they were doing last year, and it will probably take some time to figure out the best configuration of supporting roles. Even then, this team doesn't have the talent of the peak Miami teams.
Indiana - Don't count them out. They really looked lost at the end of last year, but they recovered some in their last two rounds, and this is still the same team that came out of the gate on pace for about 65 wins, possibly minus Lance Stevenson. They could get it back together next year and take that top Eastern spot. They could also spiral horribly out of control and miss the playoffs altogether.
Washington - I really like this team and wouldn't be remotely surprised if they grabbed the top seed. Beal looked like he really turned a corner in the playoffs last year, and if that takes as well as Wall finding some consistency, this becomes the top backcourt in the East with a pretty formidable front court as well. I think Paul Pierce may be a little worse than contract-year-Ariza, but the growth of Wall and Beal should more than cancel that out.
Toronto - Toronto probably has the best bench of any of these teams, so that's a built in advantage right there. They'll also hopefully get some growth from Jonas and Ross. But I still think the absolute ceiling for the Raptors is 55 wins, which may win the East, but probably not a very high percentage of the time.
Miami- I don't see any way this happens unless all the teams above them have terrible things happen. Sorry Heat, you had a nice run.
Brooklyn - If they finally find their time machine to grab the 2010 version of most of their key players (except Lopez), they really have a shot.
I think we all need to reconsider this 'best bench' stuff going on. By best I assume we're referring to Vasquez and Patterson duplicating their performance of last season and Lou Williams going back to his 2009-10 season numbers? Even salmons was good for us last season for a bit before he sputtered out too.
If we get the top seed we must make the second round.
RIP Tom Sterner
The Heat are definitely still a solid team.
I see them finishing the season in the 4th-8 seed range, because their lineup on paper(and when healthy) is still quite solid:
Chalmers, Wade, Deng, Mcroberts, Bosh
with Granger, Cole, and Birdman, and Napier coming off of the bench.
Obviously, the health of their players is absolutely key, as it is with many other teams.
As of now, I see the seeding like this:
8) Pistons/ Nets/ Knicks
“You can sink and drown, or you can float, and we out here like Michael Phelps."
Wade is going to battle injuries all year, Granger and Birdman are both old, and Bosh can't carry the team by himself.
RIP Tom Sterner
Their advantage over the non-Chicago teams in the bench department is significant. Indiana and Washington both have terrible benches. Cleveland's bench numbers were actually really good last year, but they unloaded most of it to get LeBron.
Look if John Wall adds somewhat a consistent jumpshot, Porter is a decent bench player, Pierce doesn't completely drop off, and their frontcourt isn't always injured, we are looking at a top 4 seed for Washington imo
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