With the end of the NBA Summer League and preseason starting next month, basketball season will soon be upon us. Fans will finally be able to see the talented 2018 rookie class in action as well as the new faces of their favorite teams. With the Eastern Conference finally liberated of King James’ rule, here’s a way too early rundown of how I think the East will turn out.
Favorite for the One Seed – Boston Celtics
Boston is the clear favorite to top the East and contend for a championship. Even without Kyrie and Gordon Hayward, the Celtics were able to go up 2-0 in the ECF against Lebron and the Cavs. With an All-Star center in Al Horford and future All-Stars in Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum, the Celtics could be looking at a complete All-Star starting five.
On the bench, Marcus Smart and Terry Rozier both make up a consistently good backcourt. Smart is one of the best defenders in the NBA and Rozier is an amazing backup to Kyrie, averaging 15 points per 36 minutes last season. In the frontcourt, Greg Monroe and Marcus Morris provide big bodies in a defensive bench duo; serving as mentors as well as one of the steals of the draft, Robert Williams. Projected as a top 15 pick, Williams, and his 237 lb. frame averaged 11 ppg, 8.7 RPG, and nearly three blocks per game in college.
The Celtics simply don’t lack in any area. They have natural scorers in Kyrie and Hayward; as well as offensive boosts in Rozier and Morris. One of the best defenses in the league with a league-leading 101.5 defensive rating, Boston has lockdown defenders with Taytum, Brown, and Horford; all with defensive win shares in the top ten forwards in the league. Don’t forget Smart who hustles more than anyone and has a defensive win share in the top three of all guards in the NBA.
This team has so much potential with their blossoming young players and a talented group of veterans who are playing in their prime. With Brad Stevens’s spectacular coaching and leadership, the C’s are the team to beat in the East and a major threat to the Warriors.
Underdog Team- Washington Wizards
I’ve watched the Wizards for years now and believe me when I tell you that this is the best supporting cast that John Wall has ever had.
New additions in Dwight Howard, Austin Rivers, and Jeff Green give the Wizards a much-needed boost on their bench and at center. Bradley Beal and Otto Porter Jr. are still playing their best basketball; as last season Beal averaged 22.6 ppg and Porter had a career-high 14.7 ppg. And finally Wall, who played through an injury last year, still averaged a near 20 and 10 stat line in 41 games.
When looking at the Wizards young players, Kelly Oubre is bound to have his best year. His PPG, APG, and BPG has all doubled every year since his rookie year. Also expect 15th overall pick Troy Brown to burst onto the scene quickly as a talented bench scorer as he shot 44% from the field and averaged 11 PPG in college.
Over the past couple of years, Washington has made the second round various times with decent rosters; always in the playoff picture but never a contender. With their best roster in years, this is John Wall’s and the Wizards year to prove to the Eastern Conference and NBA, “We are healthy. We do not forget. And we are competing for a championship”.
#1 Boston Celtics vs. #8 Miami Heat
#2 Toronto Raptors vs. #7 Detroit Pistons
#3 Philadelphia 76ers vs. #6 Indiana Pacers
#4 Washington Wizards vs. #5 Milwaukee Bucks
#1 Boston Celtics vs. #4 Washington Wizards
#2 Toronto Raptors vs. #6 Indiana Pacers
#1 Boston Celtics vs. #2 Toronto Raptors
Celtics win the Eastern Conference Finals 4-2