NBA Eastern Conference rankings 2014-15
With LeBron James moving from Miami to Cleveland, how will that affect the power rankings in the NBA's Eastern Conference as the 2014-15 NBA season tips off? Newsday's Al Iannazzone ranks the 15 teams in the East, presented here in true countdown order.
15. Philadelphia 76ers(Credit: AP )
15. 76ers: The roster is filled with injured or no-name players. They could threaten their own NBA marks for consecutive defeats (26, last season) and most losses (73, 1972-73).
14. Orlando Magic(Credit: AP)
14. Magic: Victor Oladipo and rookie Elfrid Payton are young, exciting players whom the Magic hopes can blossom into stars. All signs point to Orlando getting another high draft pick in June.
13. MIlwaukee Bucks(Credit: Getty Images / Jason Miller)
13. Bucks: Jason Kidd went from a playoff team to last season’s NBA cellar-dwellers. The young Bucks are improved, led by No. 2 overall pick Jabari Parker, but they’re still lottery-bound.
12. Boston Celtics(Credit: AP)
12. Celtics: Rajon Rondo could be in his final months as a Celtic. He’s in the last year of his deal, they’re rebuilding and they drafted Marcus Smart.
11. Detroit Pistons(Credit: AP)
11. Pistons: New president/coach Stan Van Gundy will put his stamp on this underachieving team. The real test will be whether Van Gundy can rein in Brandon Jennings and Josh Smith.
10. Indiana Pacers(Credit: Getty Images)
10. Pacers: The losses of Paul George (broken leg) and Lance Stephenson (signed with Charlotte) have dropped them from contenders to playoff hopefuls. But with proven players and a good coach, they have a shot.
9. New York Knicks(Credit: Getty Images)
9. Knicks: New coaching staff, new system and seven new players, so it might not look pretty early. If Carmelo Anthony gets help and the Knicks play defense, they could sneak into the playoffs.
8. Atlanta Hawks(Credit: AP)
8. Hawks: Al Horford, who was out most of last season, is back and they signed defensive specialist Thabo Sefolosha, so they should be in the mix for one of the last postseason spots again.
7. Brooklyn Nets(Credit: AP)
7. Nets: They’re talented and deep and could be in the hunt for the Atlantic Division title. But so much depends on Brook Lopez and Deron Williams’ health and what Kevin Garnett has left.
6. Toronto Raptors(Credit: AP)
6. Raptors: Last year’s Atlantic Division champion added Lou Williams and is banking on Jonas Valanciunas’ continued development and Kyle Lowry having another strong season after getting a $48-million deal.
5. Charlotte Hornets(Credit: AP )
5. Hornets: Former Adelphi coach and Knicks assistant Steve Clifford had the Hornets playing stingy defense and guided them to the playoffs last season. Expectations are higher after the acquisitions of Lance Stephenson and Marvin Williams.
4. Miami Heat(Credit: Getty Images)
4. Heat: James’ exit left a gaping hole, but Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh and free-agent pickup Luol Deng are a solid core and Erik Spoelstra can coach. They’re still one of the East’s better teams.
3. Washington Wizards(Credit: AP)
3. Wizards: John Wall and Bradley Beal are a dynamic backcourt and Paul Pierce adds scoring, leadership and big-game experience. His presence should help later, but it also will boost Wizards while Beal recovers from a wrist injury.
2. Chicago Bulls(Credit: AP)
2. Bulls: Adding Pau Gasol, Doug McDermott and Nikola Mirotic should solve some of their perennial scoring issues. If Derrick Rose stays healthy, the Bulls should challenge for the championship.
1. Cleveland Cavaliers(Credit: Getty Images)
1. Cavaliers: LeBron James returned home, helped recruit