Its been a hell of a long time since I last got to do Power Rankings, but finally, the NBA season is not far off. Here's the Eastern Conference:
1. Boston Celtics
They won the championship, but lost a key bench player in James Posey. Even without Posey, this team is still rock solid. They're the best defensive team in the league, and the offense should be even better this season with a more experienced Rajon Rondo running the point.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers
Last year, they made the conference semi-finals, and they gave the Celtics some trouble. Adding Mo Williams was a great move; a step in the right direction, but the Cavs still could bring in some more guys and stop relying on LeBron James to do everything.
They need to find someone who can take over at the five when Big Z steps down and they need to do it soon. That said, the Cavs will be serious contenders, with LeBron putting up unimaginable numbers.
3. Philadelphia 76ers
Last year, this team's biggest weaknesses were inside scoring and 3 point shooting. Elton Brand gives them the superstar they need and fills the previously gaping hole in the post. Kareem Rush and Donyell Marshall can both hit threes consistently. This team could go far if they work well together.
4. Detroit Pistons
They're a good team, but a lot of their key players are getting older, and the offseason was filled with trade rumours. The major trade Joe Dumars talked about never happened, which isn't necessarily a good thing. New Coach Michael Curry has a tough job ahead of him. Detroit will do well, but don't expect a championship.
5. Toronto Raptors
The Jermaine O'Neal trade was a great move. If he can revitalise his career in Toronto and become the monster in the post that he used to be, they will have one hell of a combination. A lot of teams will struggle to deal with O'Neal and Bosh in the post at the same time.
Jose Calderon looked great in the Olympics, and there are no glaring weaknesses. Expect something big from this team.
6. Miami Heat
No, its not a typo. They were terrible last year with Wade injured. He dominated with Team USA—the old D-Wade is back. Shawn Marion will be there all year. Michael Beasley will win rookie of the year. And they solved their point guard problem by signing Shaun Livingston.
The only question is how Jamaal Magloire will perform at center. This team is much better than most people think.
7. Orlando Magic
Dwight Howard dominanted last season but he needed to improve his shot. Apparently he has gotten a lot better in that department, so he should have a monster year. The Magic have three spectacular starters (Howard, Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis) but need more contribution from the bench.
8. Washington Wizards
They gave Gilbert Arenas a huge contract and now he is out with a knee injury. The Wizards are very unlucky with injuries. A healthy Gilbert would have had them higher on this list, but instead Caron Butler and Antwan Jamison will have to take care of things until Agent Zero returns.
9. Indiana Pacers
It is possible that they could scrape their way into the playoffs. Danny Granger is underrated, but he is getting closer and closer to a spot on the All-Star team. New addition T.J. Ford can help this team, but they need to resolve the situation with Jamaal Tinsley.
Indiana has a decent team, but if they make the playoffs, it will be tough for them to get past the first round.
10. Milaukee Bucks
They have a veteran starting lineup with Andrew Bogut, Charlie Villanueva, Richard Jefferson (who they were lucky to get), Michael Redd, and Luke Ridnour. Rookie Joe Alexander was one of the best players in the draft. But in the past few years the Milwaukee have struggled to get it together.
Prove me wrong, Bucks. I'd love to see them realize their potential, but I'm not sure they will.
11. Atlanta Hawks
The loss of Josh Childress will hurt. The Hawks have some good players in Josh Smith, Joe Johnson, Al Horford and Mike Bibby, but their bench needs a substantial amount of work. Another playoff run is highly unlikely in 2009.
12. Chicago Bulls
There are just too many problems with this team. They have too many guards, they still need a dominant post player, and Ben Gordon isn't happy that he is still in Chicago. Will Vinny Del Negro be able to motivate this team and get wins? The key for the Bulls is to make sure Derrick Rose gets a lot of playing time.
13. Charlotte Bobcats
Larry Brown is a Coach that I have a lot of respect for. However, he has just inherited a team that is often inconsistent. If anyone can make something out of this team, its Larry Brown. No disrespect to Adam Morrison, but I'll bet Michael Jordan regrets not picking Brandon Roy.
14. New Jersey Nets
They big 3 of J-Kidd, Vince Carter and RJ is no more. Instead the Nets have Vince Carter and a very young team. They are focused on landing LeBron in 2010, but if they don't, they will definitely regret trading RJ.
15. New York Knicks
Still way over the salary cap, the Knicks are not looking good. Reports from training camp are that Eddy Curry isn't in great shape. Look for David Lee to start, as Eddy Curry and Zach Randolph on the court together just doesn't work.
The signing of Chris Duhon will help but the Knicks needed to do a lot more in the offseason. New GM Donnie Walsh and Coach Mike A'Antoni are both excellent at their jobs, but don't have much to work with. Things aren't looking great.
I'd love to hear your opinions on this—please leave a comment and let everyone know what you think.
You may also want to check out my Western Conference Power Rankings.