We are wrapping up our previews of the NBA, with the season starting on Wednesday. As we head into the start of the season, let’s give you our official Commentary Box Sports NBA predictions for 2016-17, kicking it off with the East!
Here are the predictions, in order of projected conference standings:
1. Cleveland Cavaliers (61-21)
There’s a lot to like in Cleveland, and this team seems like slightly less deep Cavs team that won the title a year ago. While that probably spells bad news for the NBA Finals, that still means that this team is head and shoulders better than their Eastern Conference rivals, barring injury.
2. Toronto Raptors (56-26)
The Raptors finally got gutted of some of their depth, but the lineup is one to be excited about. This team is athletic and grizzled enough to handle their own. They’ve proven they’re consistent, and now all the attention turns to postseason accomplishment: temporary goals won’t satisfy fans hungry for the next step.
— NBA (@NBA) October 22, 2016
3. Boston Celtics (54-28)
Boston finally added a piece that could make them a top seed again in Al Horford. The Celtics have built a nice support staff and have just been awaiting a star or two. They got a borderline one in Horford, who should thrive with some slashers and shooters, but they’ll need another piece to really contend with Cleveland.
4. Indiana Pacers (48-34)
An early pick for the most improved team in the East, the Pacers revamped their roster and doubled down on some offense. The lineup should be fun to watch, but this team will give up some points. Still, if there’s anyone in the conference that can score with the Cavs, it’s these guys right here.
5. Charlotte Hornets (47-35)
The Hornets turned heads a year ago and they won’t be catching anyone off guard this time around. They’ve been depleted of some depth, but they revamped by adding some other players who could use another chance. We’ll see if this team really is a place where players can restart, but I like this starting lineup a lot.
6. Detroit Pistons (46-36)
Van Gundy and the Pistons upgraded the roster and should finally start their move up the standings. This team is really talented, and there’s a lot to like about the bench. This team is a far cry from the youthful team that started last year, so we’ll see how they handle actually having expectations.
— Detroit Pistons (@DetroitPistons) October 24, 2016
7. Atlanta Hawks (43-39)
The Hawks took a big hit losing Horford, while they jettisoned Jeff Teague. But Dwight Howard is a nice comfort prize, and they’ll turn it over to some youth. Still, this unit is aging, and I just don’t know how Howard fits beside Paul Millsap. There’s potential there, but count me out until I see a little more.
8. Chicago Bulls (41-41)
The Bulls hit a massive reset button to kick the offseason off, and now we’ll see where their moves lead going forward. Gone are Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah; in are Rajon Rondo and Dwayne Wade. It should be fun to watch, but the locker room chemistry is going to be just as interesting. I just don’t think there’s a lot of shooting here.
9. New York Knicks (35-47)
The Knicks revamped as much as anybody, and most of the time that means a rebuild. But not here – the Knicks are looking to contend. And while I love Melo, the roster around him is really thin and relying on health for a unit that’s not seen it in quite a while. This could be another disappointing year in New York.
10. Washington Wizards (35-47)
The Wizards are getting Wall and Beal back healthy, and that could certainly help. But look further down the roster and it’s hard to get excited. This isn’t the same Wizards team that was near the top of the East a couple of years ago. Plus, Wall and Beal aren’t that effective on the floor together lately.
11. Milwaukee Bucks (34-48)
I was a big fan of this roster before the Khris Middleton injury. And now with the dealing of MCW, the team looks to have doubled down on Giannis as the point-forward. That means no real shooting and a lot of crowding in the paint. This offense is going to look ugly, but watch out for the D.
— NBA (@NBA) October 18, 2016
12. Miami Heat (33-49)
The war of attrition really decimated the Miami Heat. Wade and a slew of veterans off the bench are now gone, and left in their place is more youth than the Heat have had in over a decade. We’ll see how the roster plays together, but this has all the signs of a rebuild in South Beach.
13. Orlando Magic (28-54)
The Magic added a lot of pieces but with no real sense of direction. Oladipo is gone, and now they have doubled down on Herzonja and Fournier. We’ll see how that logjam of talent in the front court plays together. I like the pieces of the roster, but maybe not the entire group as a unit.
14. Philadelphia 76ers (22-60)
The Sixers really know how to suck, don’t they? Ben Simmons is likely done for the year, so that means likely another year down the standings. Still, it’s going to be really fun watching Joel Embiid play, and I’m really hoping for a healthy campaign. The fruits of Sam Hinkie are slowly starting to pay off.
15. Brooklyn Nets (18-64)
Oy vey. There really isn’t much to like about these Nets. They don’t own their own pick, so there’s not much incentive to lose, but no talent to win. Jeremy Lin should show out and the young guys will get plenty of time. Still, it’s going to be a long season in Brooklyn yet again.
— NBA (@NBA) October 21, 2016