It’s going to be an exciting season, that’s for sure. There is so much intrigue surrounding the lead-up to opening day tip-offs. Can David Fizdale turn the Knicks around? Will LeBron save Los Angeles? Is Kahwi going to give it his all in Toronto? Will Mello mesh with the Rockets? And how scary will the Warriors be with DeMarcus Cousins under the rim?
The best betting sites have the Warriors as the far and above favorites to win it all, but this season has a feeling of change to it that goes beyond and almost seems more important than if Golden State will dominate for one more season. The gap is tightening. Let’s have a quick look at a few of the top contenders in the Eastern Conference.
Three Contenders and a Pair with Certain Uncertainties
Boston – If the Celtics can remain healthy, is there anyone in the east that can compete with them? Roles are going to be adjusted with Hayward back in the mix, but this is a good thing. Boston made a deep playoff run without the likes of Kyrie Irving or Gordon Hayward. In some ways, the devastating injuries could almost be looked at as a good thing. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are way ahead of the curve as far as their development is concerned. The Celtics’ improved depth should stand out when it’s bench against bench. And with Hayward back on the hardwood, Boston’s elite defense will only be bolstered.
Philadelphia – There are high expectations for the young team in the City of Brotherly Love. The 76ers are almost adolescent at their core, but with the likes of Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons, they are highly talented. Last time around, the Sixers made it to the second round of the playoffs, which was an experience badge earned that this young team needed. Furthermore, they have proven to be a cohesive unit, and as this season wears on, we should look for them to get tougher and tougher as they stack up experience. One of the best things that comes with a young team is a whole lot of tireless energy.
Toronto – There are about a million questions regarding Kahwi Leonard and the Toronto Raptors. Two of the biggest concerns are: how healthy is Leonard, really? And will he stay focused in Toronto or is he just biding his time until next summer? He has looked like his himself in October preseason games, but the questions about health still linger. Almost more important are the concerns regarding how engaged he’ll be with this Raptors unit. If Kawhi goes all in, the Raps could be scary indeed. With Leonard’s lock-down defense, the Raptors may become an elite defensive team and move from that 10th in total score rank up to number seven or eight.
Cleveland – It’s almost funny how far the Cavs have fallen in the projections since the departure of King James. It’s funny because they are still a star-laden team with a ton of playoff experience and synergy between their core unit. The biggest questions in Cleveland revolve around Kevin Love. Does he still remember how to be that ‘Minnesota Love’ who captained the court? The Cavaliers could end up surprising everyone this year. They’ll make it to the playoffs again, sans James.
Detroit – With Blake Griffen teaming up with Andre Drummond and company, are the Pistons once again in the running to be contenders? They definitely have talent around the baseline, but what about out on the wing? Reggie Bullock shot 44.5% from behind the arc in his 52 games played last season, but can anyone else step up and help take the Pistons out of Eastern Conference mediocrity? Yes, we’re talking to you, Stanley Johnson and Luke Kennard.
In trying to answer the current questions surrounding each team, we just arrive at more questions. We’ll have to wait until October 16th and 17th when they will begin to get real answers.