The way-too-early 2016-17 Eastern Conference Power Rankings
It is currently early August, and I would like to remind you all that the Cleveland Cavaliers are still the NBA World Champions. Teams are gearing up to try and take the throne, but no one is going to be able to take a crack at the champs until at least October. That being said, this offseason has shifted the dynamic of the Eastern Conference, meaning it’s only fitting to judge and rank. We’ve not seen any of these teams play yet, making this the way too early edition of these power rankings, but we can still extrapolate where the teams on paper. It just makes it that much easier yet harder to worry about that stuff now, so here we go.
15: The Brooklyn Nets
All’s not lost for Brooklyn, but at least now, they don’t look so great. Jeremy Lin was a pretty solid backup point guard for Charlotte, and could possibly be a starter, but as of now isn’t great. Hollis-Jefferson’s stats make him look like a mini-Rajon Rondo, as he comes close to the 5-5-5 club. Hollis-Jefferson looks as one of the few bright spots in the roster as a young player, and his two backups, Joe Harris and Caris LeVert also both have potential to grow, Brooklyn is hoping that one of them may turn into a bonafide starter by the end of the year. The only other ray of hope for this roster is Brook Lopez, for whom I almost feel bad for having to suffer through this rebuild that will never end. That being said, there’s a chance Lopez could be dealt by the end of the year.
Brooklyn did take a couple of chances with their roster. Anthony Bennett, Sean Kilpatrick and Trevor Booker, hoping that one of them may finally pan out. Is it likely that Boston gets another top four pick this year? Yes. But could maybe that crazy combination could just work out to finding a few serviceable parts to start a rebuild around? Possibly, but probably not.
14: The Philadelphia 76ers
Congratulations, Philly! You aren’t last finally! You’re still a not-top-five pick as your ceiling, which has broke through last year’s 10-win roof. Rumors that the Sixers are trying to unload either Noel or Okafor; though if they can’t get value out of those players they may just settle with five bigs. Will Simmons fit into the NBA seamlessly his first year? No, but did the Sixer finally find a piece that will eventually bring them back into competition, almost undoubtedly. Now all Philly needs to do is find members to fill out their backcourt (Shumpert? We’ll give you him for Noel).
13: The Milwaukee Bucks
I just don’t know that much about the Bucks rebuild plans, and I’m not sure if anyone really does. A year ago they were looking fantastic. One of the top rated defenses in the league, the return of Jabari Parker and then finally trading for seemingly rising superstar in Greg Monroe, and then the collapsed. Last year was a massive step back for the team.
In response head coach Jason Kidd decided to run point forward Giannis Antetokounmpo as a true point guard for the team despite his 6’8 size. This experiment was somewhat successful, increasing the team’s wins and Giannis’ stats rose, but it didn’t seem like enough changed. Over the offseason The Bucks signed backup point guard Matthew Dellavedova hoping they could possibly groom him into a starter (or at least a 3 and D wing off the bench), and reached really hard for Thon Maker with the 10th overall pick. Both moves seem to have made sense, attempting to find a replacement for Monroe in the long term, and adding a solid 3 and D wing, though there just seems to be a lack of focus when it comes to Milwaukee’s plans. They extended their GM’s contract despite having a clear successor and, besides the aging Dwyane Wade, didn’t even attempt to enter any of the major Free Agent sweepstakes this offseason. They aren’t bad, but really I’m not totally sure if these Bucks are going to get any better this season.
12: The Miami Heat
Well, if there wasn’t for a team in the Western Conference that lost its franchise star for literally nothing, Miami would have been the biggest loser of the 2016 NBA Offseason. Sure, did Miami have to at one point move on from D-Wade as he was already thirty four and reaching the point where he may start losing a step. But to have your franchise star just leave instead of finishing out his career at his drafted home, that is a huge loss to moral.
To make matters worse, their replacement at the position is uncertain with Dion Waiters and Tyler Johnson, though keeping Johnson forced the Heat to sign a massive overpay with poison pill provisions making the contract virtually unmovable. The Heat are in tailspin, but they have a few redeeming factors that might just keep them afloat. Goran Dragic is still on this roster, and he was a fringe all-star when playing as the first option on the Suns. Hassan Whiteside stayed with the Heat, though if without a veteran presence he may spiral out of control again. Second year small forward, Justice Winslow, could be a star in his own right with the right tuning. This roster looks thrown together, not bad but like Milwaukee seemingly has no plan for the future beyond Winslow. Bosh’s return will help determine how effective this roster will be this season, but even then Miami could be destined for a high draft pick if they can’t figure out how to work with this roster.
11: The Orlando Magic
On paper this roster looks good. Until you start looking a little bit closer, and start asking to get off Mr. Magic’s wild ride. There are just too many questions.
Why did the Magic trade one of their top prospects and a first round draft pick for an aging Serge Ibaka? Why do they think that Jeff Green is going to add to their already poor three-point shooting? Was one good playoff series really good enough to offer Biyombo a near max contract?
Are the Magic contending or rebuilding?
I’m not sure even the Magic know that, and if it weren’t for the fact that some young players (Mainly just Evan Fournier) could potentially mesh well with these underperforming vets they would be far lower on this list. Dropping further down the list would be a fair thing to bet on for these Magic this season, or maybe it isn’t, who knows.
Rankings 10-6 on the next page!