Boston, Orlando, or Cleveland: Who Is the Beast in the East?

Brandon Ribak@reebokforthreeSenior Writer IJuly 22, 2009

Let's admit it, the Eastern Conference has certainly improved over the years.

The top contending teams have continued to get stronger, and the not so great teams have rebuilt and are on the rise.

With much controversy behind it, I am going to rank the top three teams in the East and explain why one organization has declined amongst the other two contenders.


Who Is the Beast in the East?

The Cleveland Cavaliers are not the best team in the Eastern Conference.

Heck, they're not even second best.

Yes, they acquired Shaq during this offseason, but compared to the Boston Celtics and Orlando Magic, their roster is definitely the weakest of the three.

Aside from LeBron James, the team is filled with a bunch of average role players.

Their point guard, Mo Williams, proved his true worth during the playoffs, where he spoke out to the public guaranteeing that his team would beat the Magic in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Williams ended up shooting just 37.1 percent from the field and had literally no positive impact whatsoever in the biggest series of his career.

To go further with Williams, according to Bleacher Creature Roger Pimentel, "The Roland Rating considers the team's plus/minus, while the player is on the floor, and then also the plus/minus for when that player is off the floor—then takes the difference between the two. A high Roland Rating communicates that a player is valuable to the team, since their advantage is so much greater when he is on the floor."

"Mo's Roland Rating isn't the second-highest on the team, as one would hope. Nor is it third, or fourth—Mo comes in fifth in that category, scoring a mere 3.0. He's behind (in reverse order) Ben Wallace, Delonte West, Zydrunas Ilgauskas, and LeBron—whose Roland Rating is 23.5.

"Deeper digging also reveals that, of all five positions, the point guard position has the lowest PER on the team (15.1) over the course of the season, and it's at that position that opponents' PER is highest (16.9)—creating the worst net production on the team, at a -1.7 PER."

Now, moving on to Shaquille O'Neal.

At the age of 37, how much more does the big fella have left in him? Yes, you can go on and on about how he is a Hall of Famer and arguably one of the best big men to have ever played the game of basketball.

But that doesn't help the Cavaliers one bit heading into this upcoming season.

Too many questions arise regarding Shaq (Will he be able to play 30-plus minutes per game? Can he stay healthy? What will the Cavs do without him?), proving that his worth is not as much as every fan sets it out to be.

If O'Neal goes down with an injury, the Cavaliers are basically screwed. That right there proves that this team is not good enough to contend for the title. Just as if James went down with an injury, this organization relies way too heavily on just one player rather than the entire team as a whole.

With that in mind, the Cavaliers rank third best in the East, behind both the Celtics and the  Magic.


So, Who is Second Best in the East?

I hate to do it, but I place the Orlando Magic as second best in the East.

Unlike the Cavaliers, if a player like Dwight Howard goes down, Orlando has plenty of insurance on their bench. In addition, players like Jameer Nelson, Vince Carter, Rashard Lewis, Brandon Bass, and of course Marcin Gortat would all step up in Howard's absence.

Orlando has totally rebuilt their team since losing to the Lakers in the NBA Finals.

The Magic traded for superstar Vince Carter, switched Rashard Lewis to the three position, and signed a true power forward in Brandon Bass. Not to mention, Orlando signed Matt Barnes to a two-year deal, resigned Marcin Gortat, obtained power forward Ryan Anderson in the VC deal, and still have Mickael Pietrus as their sixth man.

The Magic have extreme depth this season, unlike last year.

They can afford for one of their stars to go down, because they do not only have a plethora of other All-Stars to substitute, but an $8 million trade exception that allows them to make a deal for another big named player, if needed to do so. 

With D-Howard only 23 years old, it's said that big men continue to improve their arsenal as they get older, reaching their prime usually around the age of 28.

Being already the Defensive Player of the Year, leading the league in rebounds per game and blocks per game, Howard has a chance to place his team back in the spotlight and prove that they are legit contenders for the title during the 2009-10 season.


The Beast in the East

With the Big Three nearing the end of their primes, the time is now to win it all.

The Boston Celtics signed both Rasheed Wallace and Marquis Daniels during the offseason, thus far, improving their bench and their team as a whole.

They have a young and upcoming star in both Rajon Rondo and Kendrick Perkins, and their nucleus consists of KG, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen.

While age is certainly a major factor for the organization, if the team can remain healthy, the Celtics are without a doubt the strongest force in the East.

If KG goes down again, Rasheed Wallace can fill his shoes, something that the team did not have last season during the playoffs.

If Ray Allen or Paul Pierce get hurt, Marquis Daniels can take their role, another athlete they did not have last year.

What it comes down to most is the experience that Boston has on its roster. This team has made it all the way to the top and achieved great success while doing so, something that many teams have not been blessed to do.

Both the Celtics and Magic separate themselves from the Cavaliers because of experience, depth, and the fact that they do not need to rely on one specific player to win games.

Check out the real article on Brandon's blog at Fantasy NBA Zone