The Eastern Conference in the NBA has taken a lot of flack over the years. It has been considered a “softer” conference, but the reality is that the East has been fairly competitive. The Cleveland Cavaliers won a title in 2016, while the Toronto Raptors won in 2019. Nobody in the Western Conference could stop the Golden State Warriors for a stretch, while let’s not forgotten the Miami Heat from the beginning of the 2010s decade.
The defending Eastern Conference Champions in the Heat appear to be ready to return to the NBA Finals, but who will stop them? These three NBA teams took it up another level and could be in the running for making a run themselves.
Before the second round of the NBA playoffs began, there were plenty of believers that the Bucks were going to get beat. Unibet and other platforms had the Bucks as an underdog for this series, and those platforms weren’t wrong as the Heat powered through the No. 1 seed. It appears the Bucks have not forgotten that and are ready to retool this roster.
Even though the trade for Bogdan Bogdanovich failed, the Bucks still upgraded with Jrue Holiday. The Bucks traded away Eric Bledsoe in favor of Holliday, who averaged 19.1 points and 6.7 assists. Holliday is by far the better defender too. Signing DJ. Augustine, Bryn Forbes, and Bobby Portis are solid moves for the bench too. Did we forget that the Bucks still own the two-time MVP? The Bucks could finally get over the hump this season.
The 76ers went from laughable to questionable. Does the questioning come from a stance of how far can this team go now? Give the experiment of Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid one more season because if Doc Rivers can’t figure it out, then nobody can. The one-year addition of Dwight Howard should help with some veteran leadership off the bench, while the trades for Seth Curry and Danny Grander fill the void JJ Reddick left a year ago. Plus, don’t forget that the 76ers were able to ship away Al Horford and all of that dead money.
How about the draft picks though? Drafting shooting guard Tyrese Maxey out of Kentucky at No. 21 could be the best pick of the draft. While averaging 14.0 points, he was considered one of the best defenders in college. If he can improve his three-point shooting, this will be a golden pick of the first round.
The Raptors could contend or sell in 2021 and they still would make this list. Resigning Fred VanVleet for four years and $85 million was a given. This was as safe as watching Marathi movies on the weekend. VanVleet serves as their primary outside threat and he needed to stay with this core. The moves to fortify the bench with Aron Baynes, DeAndre Bembry, Chris Boucher, and Alex Len were also solid pickups for basically cheap coins. What makes the Raptors qualify for this list is how they are able to compete in 2020 and look to the future. Their cap space will remain near the top tier of the league, which puts the team in the running for Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Image Sourced from Pixabay
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