We are a few short weeks away from the start of another NBA season. The power has shifted in a BIG way, with LeBron James taking his talents back to Cleveland. On top of that, All-Star Kevin Love has also joined the ranks of the Cleveland Cavs. The Chicago Bulls also get better in a big way, getting former MVP Derrick Rose back and also signing Pau Gasol. Does the east have enough talent to take the championship away from the West this year?
Here in this 2014 NBA Preview, I break down what I believe to be the top 8 teams from each conference. I also offer my analysis on how I believe the playoffs will shape up. I will tell you who I think will end up playing each other in the playoffs. I will offer my playoff predictions. More importantly, I will tell you who I believe will eventually win the NBA title this year.
On top of that, I will attempt to do all of this without being completely biased to my BELOVED hometown favorite team, The New York Knicks! For those of you who know how much of an OBSESSED Knick fan I am, you know how difficult this will be for me!
Anyway, let's start off with the Eastern Conference
Eastern Conference Top 8 Playoff Teams For 2014-2015 Season
8. Brooklyn Nets - No Paul Pierce and no Shaun Livingston is definitely going to hurt this team. However, they do get Brook Lopez back and if he can actually last the entire season (that's asking a lot), this team can still ball. Joe Johnson can score, no doubt about that. The question is will the real Deron Williams stand up?
7. Charlotte Hornets - Lance Stephenson is a very good addition for this team. This team is a much better fit for him than Indiana was and I expect to see it in the form of increased production. I wouldn't be surprised to see him average 17 points per game, grab 7 rebounds per game and get 5 assists. However, he alone isn't going to be enough and while Charlotte should make the playoffs again, I don't see them doing much else.
6. New York Knicks - Everyone thinks that The Knicks are going to be horrible. I'm certainly not expecting miracles. However, I think The Knicks played a lot worse last year than they actually are. Even though Derek Fisher is a first time head coach, with Phil Jackson running the helm, I think this team is going to be better than people are giving them credit for. Carmelo Anthony is a beast, plain and simple and he will continue to be a beast under the triangle. Jose Calderon is definitely an upgrade over that bum, Felton. I think Amare is going to be even better this year than the flashes he showed last year. They won't be the 50 something win team they were two years ago, but I don't think they will be the 30 something win team they were last year. I have them for 45 wins.
5. Miami Heat - The Miami Heat can forget about getting back to the NBA finals now that the best player in the world has moved back home. However, they are still a playoff team. Dwayne Wade is old, but can still ball in spurts. With James gone, if Chris Bosh can go back to the Bosh from Toronto, this team is good enough to compete. Loul Deng is a VERY nice pickup for them and if Danny Granger can stay healthy, he is very intriguing off the bench.
4. Toronto Raptors - The Raptors are young and they can play ball. Kyle Lowry is a good young point guard and I see him only getting better this year. DeMar DeRozan is one of the best young scorers and the league and I only see him getting better as well. Jonas Valanciunas should only get better. The Raptors should win the Atlantic Division again.
3. Cleveland Cavaliers - Everyone is basically handing the Eastern Conference title to the Cavs with the additions of LeBron James and Kevin Love to team up with Kyrie Irving. Not so fast. This team looks VERY good on paper, I will admit that. However, there is a reason why the play the games. Kevin Love is NOT going to be the same player that he was in Minnesota. You saw what happened to Chris Bosh? The same thing will happen to Love. Their coach has never coached a game in the NBA and after the big 3 they really aren't particularly deep. The Cavs will definitely be a good team. However, I'm not ready to pronounce them the best team in the Eastern Conference just yet.
2. Washington Wizards - This is the team that people are sleeping on. John Wall can BALL and the scary thing is he's still a kid that hasn't even hit his prime yet! Plus he has addressed one of his biggest weaknesses and that is three point shooting. Bradley Beal can get buckets and the Wizards arguably have the best front court in the Eastern Conference with Paul Pierce, Nene Hilario and Marcin Gortat. While I know it would surprise a lot of people, it will not surprise me to see this team win 55 games and actually have a better regular season record than the Cavs!
1. Chicago Bulls - While everyone is hopping on the Cavs bandwagon, the Bulls are, in my opinion the team to be afraid of. Derrick Rose looks like he is back to MVP form. They've added Pau Gasol, who pairing with Rose is going to give defending teams fits! They still have Joakim Noah who is just a terrific player. They have the best coach in the Eastern Conference. If Derrick Rose stays healthy, this team is winning the #1 seed, plain and simple.