The way-too-early 2016-17 Eastern Conference Power Rankings
5: The New York Knicks
The 2015 Chicago Bulls sans Jimmy Butler are looking surprisingly good this year. Do they have even the smallest semblance of depth beyond just rolling the dice on some European imports? No absolutely not. Is their roster injury plagued in almost every position? Yep and Yep. If everyone is healthy and things work out, could this be a top three team in the east? Maybe. New York is a wildcard, with a large deal of post-prime stars and young players with lots of potential. Will it work out? Maybe. Will at least two of these guys will the Knicks into the playoffs? I’d bet on it.
4: The Detroit Pistons
Detroit falls into the second tier of playoff teams; Almost There. They have arguably the Third Best Center in the NBA, an abundance of young talent, a great coach, all they need is to finish their long term plan, getting a bit more playoff experience and mature just a bit more. They easily can win a first round series against anyone besides 3-2-1 on this list and should consider their season a success if they make it a series in the second round against any team that isn’t the Cleveland Cavaliers. Detroit is going to keep trending up, and should start being a real threat real soon.
3: The Toronto Raptors
Toronto also didn’t change too much during their offseason, and if it wasn’t for a star changing hands they would once again be holding the number two spot in these rankings. Losing Biyambo was a smart move as he was clearly not worth the money offered to him. Replacing him with Potel in the draft will potentially be a fit by the end of this season, but only time will tell if the rookie will be able to sufficiently emulate the rebounding specialist. Toronto’s biggest success this offseason was resigning DeMar DeRozan. Keeping their backcourt together will continue to make the northern dinosaurs in the race for second among the East.
2: The Boston Celtics
The Boston Celtics are what the Detroit Pistons hope to accomplish in three years. Horford made his decision to come to Boston, and that exponentially improves the team that didn’t have an effective true center all of last year. If I were to take a guess, Boston is going to be an opponent of Cleveland in the NBA playoffs, likely as our ECF opponent. As of now Boston is still a few steps away from competing with Cleveland, though according to HoopRumors.com, Boston is far from done when it comes to making moves this offseason, and could possibly become a team worthy of matching up against Cleveland in the East.
1: The Cleveland Cavaliers
The Defending Champs aren’t going anywhere. They are tier 1, the champs. Do they still have to resign a few players, sure but the core of this team isn’t going anywhere, and Cleveland should be gearing up for a third dance with Golden State next June. Cleveland has three All Stars in their starting line-up, and despite not holding a true big man that has youth at center, really has no holes in this roster. Those smaller issues such as backup point guard and youth will be addressed either before the preseason or before the trade deadline. Cleveland is going nowhere and is almost unanimously agreed as being a top two team in the league. We hold all they keys here in The Land.