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Top Five Eastern Conference Teams to Watch
Posted By Joel Brigham On September 24, 2012 @ 9:00 pm In All,Main Page,NBA | No Comments
One week from today, most NBA teams will be hosting their media day events, which officially mark the beginning of training camp. In other words, the NBA season starts in seven days, and that means we can finally start talking about real basketball rather than hypothetical basketball.
When things do finally get underway, it’s inevitable that some unexpected teams will catapult themselves into the spotlight. The following list includes the teams we think are the most likely to do precisely that. You know what you’re getting with teams like Miami and Boston and, on the other end, Charlotte and Orlando, but there are a number of teams that lie somewhere in the middle and they’ll be the ones most worth keeping an eye on over the course of the season.
All that said, here are five teams worth watching in the Eastern Conference this year:
#5 – Cleveland Cavaliers – As a rookie, Kyrie Irving proved how dynamic a player he really is, but 19-year-old kids historically don’t take the league by storm. Seeing how much better he is in year number two is something plenty of fans will be interested in watching, and we’ll also be curious to see if Dion Waiters and Tristan Thompson can transform themselves into Irving’s version of what Kevin Durant has in Russell Westbrook and James Harden. The Thunder rebuilt through the draft, and the Cavs were the first team to try and duplicate that. This core is still young, but they’ve got a chance this season to introduce us to a future that looks much brighter than it did two years ago.
#4 – Chicago Bulls – How could this team possibly be worth watching without the excitement that comes attached to Derrick Rose, who should spend most of the season recovering from his knee injury? Well, for starters, fans are going to be a giant collective ball of anxiety anticipating his return, but we’ll also get a chance to see if Tom Thibodeau is impressive enough a coach to keep the Bulls competitive despite Rose’s absence. They were solid without him for stretches last season, but this is a completely different story. Are they still good enough to stay in the thick of the playoff hunt until their superstar gets back? Discovering that answer is enough to keep an eye on this team this season.
#3 – Toronto Raptors – For starters, rookie Jonas Valanciunas has the potential to be a special NBA player, and his first year in the NBA is going to be just as interesting to watch as Anthony Davis’ or Damian Lillard’s. That should be reason enough to keep an eye on the lone team north of the border, but new point guard Kyle Lowry is right on the verge of All-Stardom and could play a huge role in making this team a serious playoff contender in the East this season. Those two guys are what make this team worth following, and depending on their success, the Raptors could be one of the more pleasant surprises in the league this year.
#2 – Washington Wizards – Last season the Wizards were—how to put this lightly?—pretty awful. Despite John Wall’s talent, the roster was an odd assortment of knuckleheads without enough experience and maturity to win many basketball games. Those knuckleheads are gone now, though, and in their places are veterans who have seen playoff success before and could again on a team that features an interesting mix of established guys and promising youngsters. More than anything, though, we’ll watch to see what Wall is truly made of. If he doesn’t find his way to stardom this season, he may never. This is the year we watch for the leap.
#1 – Philadelphia 76ers – Everybody loved the Andrew Bynum acquisition for the Sixers, but that trade leaves a couple of huge question marks for Bynum’s new team. First, is Bynum good enough to lead a team? And secondly, can Bynum stay healthy long enough to lead a team? The answers to those questions will go a long way towards predicting Philadelphia’s success this year, because without Andre Iguodala and Elton Brand, Bynum will have to grow up quickly and prove he can make the most of the opportunity he’s been given. Also, it will be worth watching to see if Jrue Holiday and Evan Turner take the next step in their careers, but let’s face it—Bynum is the big draw here.
Whether these teams end up living up to expectations or falling short of them, we can be pretty certain that they’ll be worth keeping an eye on, especially early on. One way or another, these are the five Eastern Conference teams to watch, so let’s watch them in a week when they get started on the 2012-2013 campaign, shall we?
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