1. Milwaukee Bucks – The Bucks are one of the youngest and exciting teams in the Eastern Conference. With a budding star in Giannas Antetekoumpo, the team looks to improve after a rough season filled with injuries last year.
Adding Matthew Dellavedova to the roster certainly helps with the teams lack of a solid point guard, but more than likely won’t help them make it over the hump this season. A long term injury to one of the team’s best scorers, Kris Middleton, will hurt the team drastically to start their season, and they could find themselves behind the 8-ball before the All-Star break.
2. Cleveland Cavaliers – With LeBron James looking the way he did in last years playoffs, the Cavaliers are once again clear favorites to win the East. With hopes of another return the Finals this season, the Cavs bring back virtually the same cast of players from last years Finals.
Losing Matthew Dellavedova (Bucks) and Timofey Mozgov (Lakers) in free agency, and Mo Williams to retirement, the Cavs have revamped their squad by acquiring Chris Anderson via free agency and Kay Felder through the draft. Second year guard Jordan McRae has also come into his own looking like a true scoring threat in the Summer League and preseason.
3. Indiana Pacers – The Pacers made some incredible moves in free agency by adding Jeff Teague, Thaddeus Young and Al Jefferson, and they look to be true contenders in the East. With Nate McMillan stepping up as the new head coach, Indiana is expected to run a high tempo offense.
After they made a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals three seasons ago, they look to repeat that performance this year. With Paul George as the face of the franchise, Indiana should be the favorite to give LeBron and company a run for an ECF championship.
4. Chicago Bulls – Dwyane Wade has made his way home to Chicago, along with new teammates Rajon Rondo and Robin Lopez. Put alongside Jimmy Butler, the Bulls look like a clear playoff contender.
The Bulls selected Denzel Valentine with their lottery selection this year, and picked up Bobby Portis in the draft last season. Both Valentine and Portis are young, talented and eager to make an impact this season. Chicago should be a fun team to watch to say the very least.
5. Detroit Pistons – Last years 8th seed in the playoffs has seen virtually every team in their division get substantially better from what they were last season. This unfortunately hurts a young up-and-coming team with one of the top five big men in the game.
Detroit brought in Ish Smith and Boban Marjanovic in free agency, and acquired a stretch-4 in Henry Ellenson in the draft. On a team full of young players with potential, the Pistons look to be a exciting team this NBA season, but will more than likely fall short of the playoffs.