The East side is rising. The NBA is no longer totally about the Wild West. The Lakers are still arguably the strongest team, but many teams are coming close.
Everybody loves Shaq. Who couldn't? The Cavs decided to lick their wounds from last time and grab Shaq, thinking that O'Neal may be the answer to their loss against Dwight Howard and Co.
Shaq can dominate on the offensive end and if the Magic ever run hack-a-shaq, they can switch to Ilgauskas, who is weaker on the post but a better shooter.
Despite being quite old for an NBA player, Shaq's field goal percentage is as high as ever, shooting over 60 percent for the past two years in Phoenix. Shaq also brings experience and strength.
But in my humble opinion, I think that getting Shaq may not guarantee a championship next year.
The Cavaliers' problem is their defence on rotation; that's where the Magic got most of their dagger three's last year.
The problem is Shaq is 37 and he isn't the man he used to be. His lack of speed is a major problem and does not help on rotation.
Shaq may be a bit better than the frail Ilgauskas, yet still pretty slow. If I were to go for speed, I might as well go for the smaller, faster Varejao.
If the Cavaliers beat Magic last year, would they have beat Lakers in the Finals? I doubt it. Chances are, they would have found no answer to Kobe Bryant, who is a match-up nightmare for anybody.
Take a look back to 2008, when Ray Allen and Paul Pierce did a great job guarding Kobe Bryant. Many say Kobe wasn't in top form last year and he didn't "step up."
I think that the problem was the Celtics' defence. They managed what many other teams did not—slow down Kobe.
One player is never going to change a team instantaneously. The Cavaliers realized that, and are trying to add Jamario Moon to their roster.
If the Heat cannot match the Cavaliers' offer in a week, then we put Jamario Moon into the equation. Moon is not a huge offensive player, but he is quick and can help on the poor D the Cavaliers put up.
I speculate Moon will probably play swingman (Guard/Forward), helping them on defense against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers.
Nonetheless, other teams have been making adjustments, as well. Lakers added Ron Artest to their roster. This would mean trouble for LeBron James, but not that much.
The Cavaliers are one of the best offensive teams, and the addition of Shaq also makes them much more versatile in the offensive end.
The next big addition is Vince Carter to the Magic. The Magic traded Hedo Turkoglu and Courtney Lee away for the veteran.
While Vince may not be as athletic as he used to be, he is still a threat behind the arc, can distribute, and can put up numbers. The addition of Vince Carter will make the Magic a better all-around team.
Many teams in history have had big man/guard combinations that have proven successful: Kobe and Shaq, Dwayne Wade and Shaq, Gasol and Kobe... With some luck they might even get another chance. Why not Vince Carter and Dwight Howard?
Finally, the Celtics. Despite being bombarded by age problems, there is no denying that they are great. The Big Three are three weapons of different styles, causing many problems for teams. The recent addition of Rasheed Wallace adds many more options for the Celtics.
There you have it. The best three teams of the East.