While the Western Conference has been the more dominant conference in the NBA for several years, the Eastern Conference is shaping up to be extremely competitive next season. There are at least four teams who could probably earn themselves the top seed in the East. There are multiple teams in the East that will be legitimate title contenders.
To put things into perspective, the Eastern Conference Toronto Raptors have three All-Star level players on their team next season in Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, and Scottie Barnes. However, the Raptors are only going to be a play-in team next year, because the East is just that good.
The East has certainly caught up to the West in terms of the level of competition. No matter what conference you are in, your team will have to battle its way through the playoffs to earn a spot in the NBA Finals. In this article, we predict what the Eastern Conference seeding will be next season, prior to play-in games.
8. Chicago Bulls
The Chicago Bulls feature a great collection of talent and have a well-established defensive backbone. However, the Bulls are facing some huge question marks next season. The first concerns Lonzo Ball, who will miss the beginning of the season to recover from an injury he suffered last season. When will he return? The second question concerning the Bulls is how DeMar Derozan will look after turning 33 years old this summer. Last season was the best season of his career, but will he be able to repeat his results?
7. Atlanta Hawks
The Atlanta Hawks made a huge upgrade to their roster this offseason by trading for Dejounte Murray. He is the perfect guard to pair with Trae Young. His all-around skill, as well as his defensive abilities, will strengthen Atlanta’s backcourt. The Hawks are definitely going to be a better team than last season, but unfortunately, it won’t be reflected in the standings because the other teams in the East are just too talented.
6. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavaliers turned themselves into contenders for the next few seasons after trading for Donovan Mitchell. They have the potential to have four All-Stars, the oldest among them being only 25 years old. Cleveland was competing at the top of the Eastern Conference standings last season before injuries to Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen derailed their season. With those two healthy and Donovan Mitchell leading the team, the Cavaliers are going to be a team no one wants to face in the playoffs. However, that won’t be reflected in the standings, which is going to be a common theme here, because teams above the Cavs are stacked with superstar talent.
5. Philadelphia 76ers
Joel Embiid has carried the 76ers for the past two years, having MVP-like seasons. However, he has not won the award yet. This could be the year the big man finally gets it done. The success of the 76ers is almost directly correlated with the success of Embiid. If he has another incredible season, Philadelphia will be successful. If he gets injured, it will be reflected in the standings. The ceiling for this team will be based on health, as well as how well James Harden and Tyrese Maxey will be able to perform in the backcourt.
4. Brooklyn Nets
Kevin Durant was almost traded away this offseason, but he has decided to stay in Brooklyn for the time being. There are still many issues that the Brooklyn Nets will need to work out, but there is just too much talent on this team for them to not be at least a top-four team in the East, assuming Durant is healthy and stays on the team. The superstar duo of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving is almost too much for any team to match offensively. Combining that with the Nets adding depth to their roster this season, such as the signing of T.J. Warren, and the Nets could be a dangerous contender if things go according to plan.
3. Milwaukee Bucks
The Milwaukee Bucks arguably would have defeated the Celtics and defended their title if Khris Middleton did not suffer an injury in the postseason. Unfortunately, things like that happen in the NBA. The Bucks will be prepared to make up for it this upcoming season. Giannis Antetokounmpo continues to improve. As long as he is a member of the Bucks, there is reason to believe the Bucks are going to compete for a title every season.
2. Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics represented the East in the NBA Finals last season. Then, they added Malcolm Brogdon to their team this off-season. As long as the Celtics continue to play the way they discovered they could play halfway through last season, they are going to be tough to beat. Hardly anyone is going to stand in their way.
1. Miami Heat
The Miami Heat had a quiet offseason, but they are still going to be one of the top teams in the NBA next year. Their only major loss this offseason was P.J. Tucker. Next year, they will be looking to implement Victor Oladipo into the rotation for a full season. He is going to look a lot better than recent years. So will the Heat’s young core of Tyler Herro and Bam Adebayo. The Heat pride themselves on having an all-around team culture. That, combined with improved health, should propel the Heat back to the number one spot in the standings next season.