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Blog Entry

A much improved East

Posted on: August 29, 2009 7:03 pm
 
With the season just around the corner and fans in Boston with Championship dreams salavating, time to take a hard look at the East. This year's East is improved. A lot of teams added depth and appear healthy.  This makes the East very challenging.  Here is a look at each team. 60 plus wins will be a little harder as the mid range teams are capable on a good night of shocking some teams. These are also my rankings.

1. Boston Celtics.  The only question is health. The bench is by far the deepest with Baby, Daniels, Sheed, House, Giddens, and Walker.  This should give the Big Three a rest. Never mind if Garnett screaming in Sheldon Williams ear might awaken some potential.  With them not losing any coaches and adding talent they clearly have the edge. Rondo should continue to emerge and Perkins continuing improvement to compliment the Three that is a dominant starting five.  With no Garnett They won 62 games and pushed Orlando to 7.   Only health can stop them from reclaiming the Beast in the East title.

2. Orlando Magic.  This was a tough call.  I do not like the switch from Turk to Vince Carter, but they still have a great Defensive scheme centered around Howard.  Nelson being healthy will be key because without Hedo he will have to engineer the pick and roll offense that got Rashard Lewis open looks and Howard single coverage in the post. The team with Petrius and Reddick is loaded with shooters for their 3 point offense. The bench with Bass and Gortat is solid.  Still I do not like Vince in this mix, but he always gets his stats.

3. Cleveland Cavs.  The spector of will this be it for Lebron in Cleveland will effect the team.  They were also not able to lure the talent the other two teams ahead of them were. They lost their defensive guru to a head coaching job.  Moon and Parker will help the bench. I believe Powe is done (Hope I am wrong).   Shaq was a terrible move.  The aging slow footed Goliath will hinder Lebron's drives and Defensively he was a nonfactor for the past two years. To stop Howard they picked the wrong guy. Williams and West are nice complimentary players, but Cleveland again failed to sign a guy to run with Lebron. While the Celtics and Magic surrounded their star with other stars the Cavs failed again to do so and when Lebron runs out of gas in the playoffs again the end will be similar again.  

4. Miami Heat.  If Mike the Beast has his head on straight, Dwayne Wade has a running mate. O'Neal and Q Richardson will add some offensive punch.  Chalmers and Cook should be a little better with another season under their belts. The Defense can be suspect at times.  This team will not be an easy mark.

5. Atlanta Hawks.  Bibby, Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, and Al Horford are a great unit.  Add Zaza Pachulia, Maurice Evans, and Marvin Williams and a veteran Joe Smith and this is a solid team.  The war between Josh Smith and Coach Woodson seems to hit the team every year. If they can all mix together this team could challenge for four or even three.

6. Washington WizardsCaron Butler is under rated.  The man can score.  Jamison, a healthy Arenas, and Randy Foye make this a dangerous offensive team.  Flip Saunders should be a decent coach, but will need to figure out a defensive scheme his players will buy into.  The bench with Mike Miller and Nic Young has some scoring. Easily the most improved team in terms of wins next year.

7. Toronto Raptors.  Turk was a great pick up.  He should help Bosh with a pick and pop offense. Jose Calderon is a solid PG. Andrea Bargnani  should be better with another year.  Jack was a nice addition, but they need some D and Bench help.

8. Chicago Bulls.  Rose is the real deal.  They lost Gordon, but still have Hinrich, Noah, Thomas,  Miller, Deng healthy, and Salmons.  Defense must be stressed and the outside shooting from Salmons and Hinrich must continue, but Rose is a stud that will drive the offensive engine.

9. Detroit Pistons. They got got Gordon and Charlie V.  Add that to Rip, Prince, Stuckey, and Maxiell and that is a solid team.  Their new coach stresses D and has great pieces to work with.  The Bench is weak and they are a new mix.  However, I would not be surprised to see them sneak in.

10. Philly Sixers.  Andre I is a machine.  The man can score.  If Elton Brand can be healthy and mix that is quite a 1 2 punch. Can Louis Williams take over for Andre Miller?? I think so. Thaddeus Young and Dalembert are not bad complimentary pieces, but the bench is awful and D is suspect. 

11. New Jersey NetsDevin Harris, Courtney Lee, Yi, Lopez and Alston are a nice mix.  The young players should play better with more shots now that Vince is gone. Lee is also a great Defender.  However, they do not have the talent to hang for a playoff spot.

12.  New York Knicks.  Team is full of question marks. David Lee??? Nate Robinson??? Sessions???  Mike D's style has never won a title and for all the points his teams score their D is terrible.  I do hope they get players and become a great team again.  Basketball is better when the Knicks and their passionate fans are involved with a winner.

13. Charlotte Bobcats.  Intriguing team.  Augustin, Raja Bell, Chandler, Diaw, Radmanovic, Wallace, Mohammed, and Felton running it is not bad. Gerald Henderson is an interesting rookie.  This mix with proper defense could be a decent team.  My guess is they have another year of growing pains and then if they gell they could fight for a playoff spot.
 

14.   Indiana PacersDanny Granger and then the roster confuses me.  What are they trying to do?? Dunleavy, Ford, Murphy, and Hibert are nice, but where is the scoring punch.  Jim O'Brien has great Defensive tough teams, but they need points.  Tyler Hansbrough could be a hard working solid scorer, but they have a lot of guys like that. Still there D will win them some games.

15. Milwaukee Bucks.  Bogut must be huge.  Redd is solid and Skiles is demanding.  However, the talent is thin and will not be a factor.
Category: NBA
Comments

Since: Apr 1, 2009
Posted on: September 8, 2009 8:38 am
 

A much improved East

To me, the only thing Turk gives you over Carter is height.You have never been more wrong. Statistics can be manipulated to lie. There averages are close, but Turk is a far superior passer and ball handler.  In this offense Turk was perfect for the pick and pop.  The man was such a catalyst in the offense that he killed the Cavs to the point where they so ridiculously overplayed him off the pick that it created easy shots for Lewis and one on one down low for Howard. Carter is more a free lancer and will that work in the offense.  Their team scheme is what carried them and I know Turk fits.  I do not know that Vince does.
Carter brings you someone who can create his own shot opportunities, whereas Hedo was pretty awful at thatI do not know what you were watching this past playoffs, but please watch the seven game Boston series and tell me this guy, playing the 2 does not create his own shot. The man was a killer.

Then there's the intangibles.  Carter is coming home Daytona is less than an hour's drive away.  He's coming to a team where he doesn't have to be "the man", and might even be the third option.  He doesn't have to be the team leader, as that is pretty much already covered by Nelson and Howard.  He's also coming to the first team he's ever been on that had a realistic shot at the championship.  He's nearing the end of his career, so the window of opportunity for a ring is closing.  All of these factors will, I think, equate to a very focused and re-energized Vince Carter.
That is not always a good thing.  The man is easily distracted as it is and now in that enviorment of pressure.  He never was a team leader and never will be because he has zero desire to be one and that goes all the way back to Toronto.  The way he has played I question his desire to play for a title.  What has he done to show you he is a player like that.  Vince reminds me of Dominique Wilkins. Great player, but where are the intangibles like drive?  Great players make their teams better by helping teamates be better. Like KG helps Pierce be a better defensive player because he is waiting in the paint and I never felt that with Vince.  Maybe that is why despite being available, only Orlando really showed interest in such a talented player.



Since: Jul 20, 2009
Posted on: September 8, 2009 2:05 am
 

A much improved East

Ok, I don't see what people have against Vince Carter.  The Toronto thing was YEARS ago.  What he's done these last several years in New Jersey was pretty impressive, especially in sacrificing part of his game to get the young guns more involved.

To me, the only thing Turk gives you over Carter is height.  They both averaged virtually the same in rebounds and assists last year.  I was surprised to find the assists nearly the same, especially since Hedo was on a vastly superior team, and after Jameer went down pretty much became the main playmaker on the Magic.  3pt% and fg% were pretty close too, but Carter edged Turk out in both of these stats.  Carter brings you someone who can create his own shot opportunities, whereas Hedo was pretty awful at that.  I doubt we'll see nearly as much dribbling out the shot clock, then tossing up an off-balance three this year, ala Hedo.  Defensively I think it's a wash.  Neither one is very good at defense, but playing with Howard will perhaps allow Carter to gamble a bit more on that end of the court, so I'm thinking he'll be at least as good as Hedo was.

Then there's the intangibles.  Carter is coming home -- Daytona is less than an hour's drive away.  He's coming to a team where he doesn't have to be "the man", and might even be the third option.  He doesn't have to be the team leader, as that is pretty much already covered by Nelson and Howard.  He's also coming to the first team he's ever been on that had a realistic shot at the championship.  He's nearing the end of his career, so the window of opportunity for a ring is closing.  All of these factors will, I think, equate to a very focused and re-energized Vince Carter.

Imo, a healthy Boston is the only team in the east that stacks up against Orlando.



Since: Apr 1, 2009
Posted on: September 3, 2009 5:50 pm
 

A much improved East

Those are not the head to head stats. When both are out there at the same time on the floor. Not the scoring averages against the team I did write that.  He is out scored by six on Howard and surprisingly two by Perk. These are guys that he needs to handle when they are out there banging bodies.  Shaq's 6 to 8 points against Mikki Moore or Martin Gortat really do not excite me. He needs to dominate those players. Apologized, I missed Carter, but still you might want to mention that a bit more then that seeing how it was there big splash.



Since: Jul 9, 2007
Posted on: September 2, 2009 11:00 pm
 

A much improved East

ok, I looked it up... Shaq against Boston last year:

16 points/11 Rebounds/2 Assists/2 Blocks/0 Steals shooting 8/13 (61%) in 30:16
17 points/6 Rebounds/0 Assists/2 Blocks/0 Steals shooting 7/11 (64%) in 27:20

2 years ago he was

17/9/2/2/0
13/11/1/1/0

Pretty much right on his season averages

Against the Magic:

19 points/11 Rebounds/0 Assists/2 Blocks/3 Steals shooting 9/13 (69%) in 35:24
He didn't play in the other game against Orlando

2 years ago he was

20/6/1/0/0
He didn't play the other game against Orlando this year either


Those numbers are right on his season averages, so sorry... he doesn't play worse against Perkins/Howard

And I also mentioned Carter here, but apparently you missed it since you said I forgot to mention him:Orlando lost Hedo and signed Bass, Carter and Barnes.



Since: Apr 1, 2009
Posted on: September 1, 2009 10:35 am
 

A much improved East

The bottom ine is that players did not sign for fear of him being gone.  Ariza and Artest both stated that.  With his contract not signed players avoided Cleveland. Yes, Cleveland loves him and I hope he stays put, but his actions do not say I love Cleveland and am staying.  The cap will be smaller next year meaning less money for him. The point he is forcing the Cavs to show they want to build a winner is a joke. Players are staying away because of his uncertainty and I believe he must know this. The possibility of him leaving is bigger then you think.  Mo is a product of Lebron taking pressure off him and with the Bucks someone had to shoot. As far as Orlando being beat in 7, that is possible. Without Turk to engineer the pick and pop offense, I will be curious to see how Vunce does.  Either way right now on paper Orlando is the more talented team.



Since: Apr 19, 2009
Posted on: August 31, 2009 9:49 pm
 

A much improved East

Personally I don't believe in this "spector of will this be it for Lebron" really exists. Correct me if I'm wrong on this , but wasn't his beef with the Cavaliers that the front office wasn't making big enough moves to surround him with championship-caliber help? And wouldn't getting Shaq at least have the appearance of that? (whether or not you believe Shaq is that answer). As far as I know, the city of Cleveland is absolutely infatuated with Lebron. I was in Cleveland in July, and on the side of every building there is a giant picture of Lebron, #23, or "Witness". I not aware that Lebron is disenchanted with this city at all, everyone loves him. I would be absolutely shocked if Lebron left for New York or any other place. He doesn't need a big market... HE'S LEBRON JAMES!!! He'd make millions in sponsership deals if he played in North Dakota.

And people don't give Mo Willaims enough credit, he contributed a lot last year. Obviously not even one game has been played yet, but I'd pick the new Cavs to beat the new Magic in a 7 game series.



Since: Apr 1, 2009
Posted on: August 31, 2009 9:39 pm
 

A much improved East

I agree about Detroit or Chicago creeping up, but these are just preseason rankings.  A lot can happen. Injuries, trades, people over or under achieving.  The quote that is why they play the games.  I tried to throw out a few teams got a lot better and could be making the fight for seeds five through eight interesting.



Since: Apr 1, 2009
Posted on: August 31, 2009 7:11 pm
 

A much improved East

My turn and yes I am a Cavs Hater. However, I stand by my view of your team.

Don't understand how this will effect the team.  He's going to be playing as hard as ever.  He's a competitor and he won't stop playing because he has to make a decision at the end of the year.  That  just doesn't make sense based on what he's done the last few years.  The rest of the team won't really be effected, although it may put a little bit more pressure on them, which is probably a good thing with how loose they were at the end of the year.  I just can't imagine how it will effect the team at allYou do not understand?  Allow me to explain.  Every City this man goes to that is a possible destination he is going to be asked the questions so are his teammates.  This effects the team.  The fact that teams whose superstars are in a contract year, I believe the stat is 75 percent of the time fail to achieve the level of standard attests to that.  The pressure you speak of is a HUGE DEAL.  This is why Williams and West missed a shot well within there range. Some guys can and some can not.

- I just have to laugh at this.  Orlando lost Hedo and signed Bass, Carter and Barnes.  Those three are very equivalent to Shaq, Moon and Parker and the Cavs didn't lose anyone major of note.  All starters are back.  I'd say the Cavs offseason was just as good, if not better than the Magic.  Who knows about Powe, so I won't include him although he could only be beneficial for the team.  As for the Celtics, all they did was add Sheldon Williams and 'Sheed.  I wouldn't really say they're surrounding their stars with "stars" as 'Sheed is kind of over the hill and Shelden Williams shouldn't even count.  Shaq is just as big, if not bigger of an acquisition as 'Sheed, whether you think he's good or not, considering he averaged more PPG and RPG than 'Sheed did last year (12/7.4 against 17.8/8.4).  I don't understand how you can say with a straight face that the Cavs had the worst offseason of the three.
After this statement I should have deleted your post for absurdness. You forgot Vince Carter, not way past his prime like Shaq.  The fact the Celtics already have three stars not just one. Mo is not a star, I could care less about ridiculous Allstar selections. Shaq scored 17 based on the offense.  The man is not the same player. My friend is a season ticket holder for the Suns there is a reason the fans were not sad to see him leave.    Sheed is coming off the Bench not starting like Shaq and his numbers will be better on a team he is properly motivated to play on. Sheed is a complimentary player not a guy being counted on to be Lebron's running mate.  Sheldon will be lucky to see the floor and you forgot Daniels who is in Boston right now working out. Daniels is a 14 point a game player for THE BENCH.  These are bench players not starters. They already have their stars and budding star.
Sigh.  He was THIRD TEAM ALL NBA LAST YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I don't understand what people don't understand about that.  HE WAS THE THIRD BEST CENTER IN THE NBA LAST SEASON!!!  Maybe people will finally understand that if it's in caps.  He's on a team that has a chance to win, and he'll use that as motivation to surpass Kobe again.  He also averaged 17.8/8.4 per game, which isn't a "aging slow footed Goliath"'s numbers by any account.
Third best???  I can name you 5 better without even thinking.  All NBA is based on stats and voted on like people vote in senators.  He is slow footed which is why the Suns could not run a half Court offense around him.  That is why they ditched him.  Oh wait in your dillusions you think it is Nash or Grant Hill's fault or anyone else that played very well in a half court set.  The man got his points in Garbage time against terrible centers 90 percent of the time.  When he goes against Howard or Gulp Perkins Head to Head when both are on the floor the man statisticaly gets killed. (Please look up head to head stats going against each other not team averages against.

I'll give you that on both counts.  However, you can't expect a team to do everything in an off season when there's a salary cap
Why not?? Had Lebron signed they would have had a better shot at Sheed, Ariza, Charlie V or Artest.  These guys would have signed for less, but the man burned his team. If he could leave who wants to sign there?

People forget that the Cavs had the best record in the league last year, MILES ahead of the Magic.  When KG went down, the Cavs had pretty much the same record (within 2 games I think in one direction or the other) of the Celtics.  If Williams or West hits their shot at the end of game 1, the Cavs are in the NBA finals.  They were literally inches away from being considering the far and away East favorite and potentially making a better series out of the finals than the Magic did because they matched up better against the Lakers (although I doubt they would have won).  The Cavs SWEPT THE FIRST TWO ROUND OF THE PLAYOFFS!!!  I can't believe that the 3rd best team in the East could have done that, especially considering it took the Magic 6 against the terrible 76ers and the Celtics 7 very close games against the Bulls missing their 2nd best player (not even their best by most people's account).

Also, saying with no Garnett the Celtics won 62 is kind of funny considering they had him for the majority of the season.
 They were only 7 games better then the Magic.  Williams and West will never hit that shot because they are not those types of players.  They did not match up better.  Gasol would have ate them alive and who off the bench was guarding a red hot Oden?? Never mind Delonte or Lebron attempting to cover a man that could not be contained in Kobe.  Neither team stood a chance, but at least Orlando might steal a ffew by raking in the 3 ball.  Look at there matchups.  The Hawks had no answer for Lebron and play terrible perimeter D causing open shots for Mo and Delonte.  Teams stumble sometimes.  Look at the 08 Champion Celtics they struggled against the Hawks and Cavs then Handled Detroit and LA.  The Celtics were burnt out last year by the time they played the Bulls.  They overplayed Pierce and Allen without Garnett for 27 games which is about 35 percent of an NBA season.  If you think Garnett is not the Celtics best player, you knowledge is very slight or those Red and Yellow tinted Glasses have obscured your vision. To win 62 without your BEST player was foolish and an accomplishment. 




Since: Jul 9, 2007
Posted on: August 31, 2009 9:45 am
 

A much improved East

Sigh, another Cavs hater that needs to be corrected.  I get kind of sick of this.  Let's go sentence by sentence

"The spector of will this be it for Lebron in Cleveland will effect the team."
-Don't understand how this will effect the team.  He's going to be playing as hard as ever.  He's a competitor and he won't stop playing because he has to make a decision at the end of the year.  That  just doesn't make sense based on what he's done the last few years.  The rest of the team won't really be effected, although it may put a little bit more pressure on them, which is probably a good thing with how loose they were at the end of the year.  I just can't imagine how it will effect the team at all.

"They were also not able to lure the talent the other two teams ahead of them were" and "While the Celtics and Magic surrounded their star with other stars the Cavs failed again to do so"
- I just have to laugh at this.  Orlando lost Hedo and signed Bass, Carter and Barnes.  Those three are very equivalent to Shaq, Moon and Parker and the Cavs didn't lose anyone major of note.  All starters are back.  I'd say the Cavs offseason was just as good, if not better than the Magic.  Who knows about Powe, so I won't include him although he could only be beneficial for the team.  As for the Celtics, all they did was add Sheldon Williams and 'Sheed.  I wouldn't really say they're surrounding their stars with "stars" as 'Sheed is kind of over the hill and Shelden Williams shouldn't even count.  Shaq is just as big, if not bigger of an acquisition as 'Sheed, whether you think he's good or not, considering he averaged more PPG and RPG than 'Sheed did last year (12/7.4 against 17.8/8.4).  I don't understand how you can say with a straight face that the Cavs had the worst offseason of the three.

" Shaq was a terrible move.  The aging slow footed Goliath will hinder Lebron's drives and Defensively he was a nonfactor for the past two years. To stop Howard they picked the wrong guy."
-Sigh.  He was THIRD TEAM ALL NBA LAST YEAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!  I don't understand what people don't understand about that.  HE WAS THE THIRD BEST CENTER IN THE NBA LAST SEASON!!!  Maybe people will finally understand that if it's in caps.  He's on a team that has a chance to win, and he'll use that as motivation to surpass Kobe again.  He also averaged 17.8/8.4 per game, which isn't a "aging slow footed Goliath"'s numbers by any account.

"Williams and West are nice complimentary players, but Cleveland again failed to sign a guy to run with Lebron"
-I'll give you that on both counts.  However, you can't expect a team to do everything in an off season when there's a salary cap.



People forget that the Cavs had the best record in the league last year, MILES ahead of the Magic.  When KG went down, the Cavs had pretty much the same record (within 2 games I think in one direction or the other) of the Celtics.  If Williams or West hits their shot at the end of game 1, the Cavs are in the NBA finals.  They were literally inches away from being considering the far and away East favorite and potentially making a better series out of the finals than the Magic did because they matched up better against the Lakers (although I doubt they would have won).  The Cavs SWEPT THE FIRST TWO ROUND OF THE PLAYOFFS!!!  I can't believe that the 3rd best team in the East could have done that, especially considering it took the Magic 6 against the terrible 76ers and the Celtics 7 very close games against the Bulls missing their 2nd best player (not even their best by most people's account).

Also, saying with no Garnett the Celtics won 62 is kind of funny considering they had him for the majority of the season.



Since: Apr 19, 2009
Posted on: August 30, 2009 8:08 pm
 

A much improved East

I think the Bulls and Pistons will be better then predicted. I thought the Bulls underachieved in the regular season last year, so they have to get it going early. The Pistons have too much talent not to contend, but I'm not sure how they rotate Gordon, Charlie, Rip and Stuckey.

The Sixers always seem to make a mess of the regular season and overachieve in the playoffs. They won't get away with that this year.

Overall I agree with your thoughts about the East being much improved. With the exception of Charlotte, Indiana, and Milwaukee, I think anybody can beat anbody on any given night.

Everyone seems to but Boston, Orlando, Cleveland at the top of the East, and I think all 3 should at least be in the conversation of title contenders. 


The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com