NBA Primetime: Eastern Conference Preseason Rankings
As you all know, the NBA will start back up within the next three weeks, and from the signs of things, this will certainly be a season to remember.
NBA Primetime will be ranking both conferences periodically throughout the regular season.
Since it is still technically offseason, this will be the "upcoming season" breakdown (expect rankings to change at least once a month once the season begins).
The Eastern Conference
1. Orlando Magic
Earlier this offseason I had the Celtics at number one in the power rankings, but after an extremely busy offseason, the Magic have moved up on the list.
Orlando heads into the season under the radar, once again, and will now have the golden opportunity to prove that last season's success was legitimate.
2. Boston Celtics
With a healthy KG, the Celtics are undoubtedly a top three team in the entire NBA. Boston's major concern will ultimately be if the vets (Allen, Pierce, Garnett, and Wallace) can remain healthy all year long and into the playoffs. If they avoid the injury bug, we might be in for another '07-'08 NBA Finals rematch.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers
Cleveland went out this offseason and got LeBron exactly what he needs to win a championship—a big fella in Shaq to defend the powerful D-Howard, and two wings in Anthony Parker and Jamario Moon to match up against the versatile forwards that both the Magic and Celtics have.
If LJ does not capture a ring this season I would be afraid to be a Cavaliers fan!
4. Miami Heat
The Heat enter the upcoming season with a serious problem in the frontcourt. Jermaine O'Neal will be 31 years of age once the season tips off, and he is clearly not the player that he once was.
O'Neal has been in a constant struggle to stay healthy and his knees are slowly beginning to die out on him. This will inevitably decrease his level of production and impact. If Miami can somehow bring in an efficient big man, winning 45 games this season is not out of the question.
5. Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks look outstanding on paper and should put up in a battle with Miami for the fourth seed near season's end. Josh Smith is destined for a rebound season and the acquiring of Jamal Crawford only adds more points to the Hawks overall PPG average.
6. Toronto Raptors
Believe it or not, the Raptors will finally have a solid season this year. Toronto has been one of the busiest organizations this offseason, signing guys like Hedo Turkoglu, Jarret Jack, and Marco Belinelli and drafting rookie DeMar DeRozan. They also acquired young gun Amir Johnson.
With a stacked roster, the only question will be whether or not the team can gel well together.
7. Washington Wizards
A supposedly healthy Gilbert Arenas immediately sky-rockets the Wizards rankings for the upcoming season. In addition, the acquiring of guards Randy Foye and Mike Miller make the Wizards roster look even more enticing.
Aside from Butler, Arenas, and Jamison, guys like Nick Young and Andray Blatche are fully prepared to step in and contribute game in and game out.
8. Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers biggest weakness is the point guard position. Luckily for Philly fans, newly acquired head coach Eddie Jordan uses the one spot as a mixture between a point guard and shooting guard.
With Iguodala and Young improving their game every day, the Sixers have a chance to rise up in the rankings this season, especially if Elton Brand can stay healthy this year.
9. Chicago Bulls
I would love to rank the Bulls higher than the ninth seed, but when you lose the highest scorer on your team, you're in for a decline in the win column. Derrick Rose will take Ben Gordon's load and without a doubt produce ridiculous numbers all across the board.
It will come down to the consistency of the Bulls front court in order to keep Chicago from missing the playoffs.
10. Detroit Pistons
Detroit is definitely not the team of old, but with the big signings of shooting guard Ben Gordon and small forward Charlie Villanueva, the Pistons are in for an exciting season.
It will be tough to make the playoffs due to the rising of other teams, and the Pistons' front court is not particularly great.
11. New York Knicks
With David Lee and Nate Robinson re-signed for one more season, the Knicks rank at 11 on the list. We all know the 2010 free agent offseason will change up the entire New York roster, so clearly the present roster is temporary.
Athletes like Wilson Chandler, Danilo Gallinari, and Jordan Hill will get the opportunity to break out this season. But regardless, the Knicks are nowhere near contention for a playoff spot.
12. Indiana Pacers
Danny Granger will lead this young Pacers squad to new heights this season (even if that means winning just 40 games). While Indiana has no chance of making the playoffs this year, their young core will begin to formulate into a playoff contending team within the next few seasons.
13. New Jersey Nets
After losing Vince Carter this offseason, the Nets have started the process known as the "rebuilding" mode. All-star Devin Harris and center Brooke Lopez will lead the way for this extremely young team and after this season, New Jersey will enter the 2010 signing with enough money to sign a big named player or two.
14. Charlotte Bobcats
The Bobcats decided to trade up their starting center Emeka Okafor in return for the injury prone Tyson Chandler. They also re-signed point guard Raymond Felton for another year, forcing two year man D.J. Augustin to wait another season before taking over. Charlotte remains as one of the worst teams in the league.
15. Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks gave up more production and potential than they actually received this offseason. After letting go of Richard Jefferson, Ramon Sessions, and Charlie Villanueva, Miluwakee is in for one of the worst seasons in history, unless players like Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut can stay healthy for a full season.
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