Predicting Eastern Conference Playoff Seeding

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It has been a crazy off-season for the Eastern Conference as some of the best players have moved to the West. Paul George and Jimmy Butler were both traded to the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Minnesota Timberwolves, respectively. Paul Millsap also took his talents West when he signed with the Denver Nuggets. A good sign for the East was when Gordon Hayward decided to come to Boston, and play with his former college coach, Brad Stevens. Kyle Lowry and Dion Waiters both re-signed. The Wizards retained Otto Porter on a four-year, $106-million-dollar deal and signed John Wall to a four-year extension. Where it gets interesting, is the Cavs. The former Eastern Conference champs are in a tough spot after star point guard, Kyrie Irving has requested a trade. Rumors are swirling about a trade to New York, which lands Kyrie in the Big Apple, and Melo in Cleveland. With all of the craziness this off-season, the playoff picture will get messy.

1 seed: Boston Celtics

Projected Starting 5:

PG: Isaiah Thomas

SG: Marcus Smart

SF: Gordon Hayward

PF: Marcus Morris

C: Al Horford

The Celtics had a very good off-season which was made by landing prized free agent Gordon Hayward. They also traded Avery Bradley and a second-round pick to acquire Marcus Morris from the Pistons. They have very good depth, with Jayson Tatum, Jae Crowder, Jaylen Brown, and Terry Rozier coming off the bench. The Celtics, who claimed the one seed last year got even better this off-season.

2 seed: Cleveland Cavaliers

Projected Starting 5: (note: in this scenario Kyrie Irving does not get traded)

PG: Kyrie Irving

SG: JR Smith

SF: LeBron James

PF: Kevin Love

C: Tristian Thompson

The Cavaliers crazy off-season got even crazier when it was reported that Kyrie Irving wants out of Cleveland. With signs that LeBron might leave after this season, this might be the last hope for the Cavs to win another championship. If Kyrie Irving gets traded, the Cavs are expected to go hard after free agent Derrick Rose. That would be a big downgrade, but with LeBron, anything is possible.

3 seed: Washington Wizards

Projected Starting 5:

PG: John Wall

SG: Bradley Beal

SF: Otto Porter Jr

PF: Markieff Morris

C: Marcin Gortat

Even if you think the Wizards overpaid to retain Otto Porter, it had to be done. The Wizards also have one of the best back-courts in the entire NBA. A big problem for the Wizards is if one of their key players gets injured, they have terrible depth off of the bench. If the Wizards stay healthy they have a chance to overcome the Cavs and Celtics. But until they prove otherwise, they will stay at No. 3.

4 seed: Toronto Raptors

Projected Starting 5:

PG: Kyle Lowry

SG: Demar Derozan

SF: CJ Miles

PF: Serge Ibaka

C: Jonas Valenciunas

The Raptors didn’t make any huge splashes this off-season, but helped themselves out by re-signing both Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka. They also picked up CJ Miles in a trade for Cory Joseph. They also traded away DeMarre Carroll to help create some cap space. The Raptors don’t have the star power to defeat the top teams, but they have the talent to be a serious threat.

5 seed: Milwaukee Bucks

Projected Starting 5:

PG: Malcolm Brogdon

SG: Tony Snell

SF: Khris Middleton

PF: Giannis Antetokounmpo

C: Thon Maker

The Bucks didn’t have a crazy off-season, and mostly because they like what they are building. As of now, the Bucks don’t quite have the ability to make it to the conference finals. But if Giannis, Thon Maker, and Malcolm Brogdon keep making leaps, then the Bucks should scare every single team in the East.

6 seed: Miami Heat

Projected Starting 5:

PG: Goran Dragic

SG: Dion Waiters

SF: Justice Winslow

PF: Kelly Olynyck

C: Hassan Whiteside

Th Heat missed out big this off-season when Gordon Hayward chose Boston over them. Although, they re-signed Dion Waiters and picked up Kelly Olynyk from the Celtics. They still have Hassan Whiteside who is an up and coming big man, but the Heat just don’t have enough to make a legit push in the Eastern Conference, no matter how weak it is.

7 seed: Philadelphia 76ers

Projected Starting 5:

PG: Markelle Fultz

SG: JJ Redick

SF: Robert Covington

PF: Ben Simmons

C: Joel Embiid

The Sixers would be much higher on this list if they could just stay healthy. Joel Embiid has played only 31 games in 3 seasons, and Ben Simmons missed his entire rookie season. The Sixers took a huge risk by giving up two first-round picks for Markelle Fultz. In free agency, they picked up both JJ Redick and Amir Johnson on one-year deals. If the Sixers stay healthy, they have a chance to climb way up this list.

8 seed: Charlotte Hornets

Projected Starting 5:

PG: Kemba Walker

SG: Malik Monk

SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist

PF: Marvin Williams

C: Dwight Howard

The Hornets had a very productive off-season in which they traded for Dwight Howard and selected Malik Monk in the draft. For years, they have been struggling to build around young star Kemba Walker, but it looks like they finally have the pieces to make a playoff push. Although it doesn’t look they will win a playoff series for the first time since 2002.

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