NBA preview: Eastern Conference Power Rankings

  • Updated: October 28, 2013 - 10:36 PM
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Chicago Bulls guard Derrick Rose is back from a knee injury

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Jerry Zgoda’s Eastern Conference Power Rankings

 

1. Miami

Contenders are closing in fast and the Heat’s bid for a three-peat just might depend on no-risk, big-reward gambles Greg Oden and Michael Beasley to provide fresh legs as much as it does on a guy named LeBron.

 

2. Chicago

Yes, believe it:  Derrick Rose (right) is back and barring a setback, better than ever after a full season lost to ACL knee surgery. Tom Thibodeau’s teams always defend, but as goes Rose, so go the Bulls.

 

3. Brooklyn

Russian owner Mikhail Prokhorov is entrusting his $190 million investment to rookie coach Jason Kidd with a team that’s not quite as old as you think — at least Deron Williams and Brook Lopez are both under 30 — and will be better in the playoffs than the regular season.

 

4. Indiana

The Pacers added gritty Luis Scola after getting within a Game 7 of the NBA Finals last spring and are getting Danny Granger back in three weeks. But can Roy Hibbert repeat his springtime performance?

 

5. Washington

Trading injured Emeka Okafor for dependable Marcin Gortat solves a problem up front and helps a blossoming John Wall-Bradley Beal backcourt get the Wizards back in playoffs for first time since 2008.

 

6. New York

The Carmelo Anthony free-agent watch already has begun for 2014, before the Knicks even have time to discover if experiments with Andrea Bargnani and Metta World Peace work out.

 

7. Detroit

The Pistons possess a potentially dynamic frontcourt after adding free-agent Josh Smith to Greg Monroe and Andre Drummond, but can they shoot it well enough to give those guys room to work?

8. Cleveland

Yes, Kyrie Irving is THAT good and that just might be enough to make the playoffs in the uneven East. But the Cavs could use some help from oft-injured gamble Andrew Bynum.

 

9. Atlanta

Josh Smith left for Detroit’s big offer, so the Hawks signed cost-efficient Paul Millsap and still have cap flexibility to make trade-deadline moves that could get them and Al Horford back into the playoffs.

 

10. Toronto

With a team built around Rudy Gay and Kyle Lowry, new GM Masai Ujiri could bust into overhaul mode if the Raptors are headed for the lottery again, which is a pretty decent bet.

 

11. Milwaukee

The Bucks swapped one Brandon (Jennings) for another (Knight) and changed lines on the fly, bringing in O.J. Mayo and bringing back Luke Ridnour. But they’re where they always seem to be, middling.

 

12. Orlando

Who would have guessed it then, but the Magic now is the big winner in last year’s four-team Dwight Howard trade. It’s collected some nice pieces — see Victor Oladipo — but now needs the big one in next draft lotto.

 

13. Charlotte

The Bobcats draft in the lottery every year and never make the playoffs. Their biggest move was signing free-agent Big Al Jefferson, the low-post scorer they need but who still won’t be enough.

 

14. Boston

Gigantic job for college wunderkind Brad Stevens, but the Celtics will move up a few notches here if they don’t trade Rajon Rondo midseason. Here’s saying they will.

 

15. Philadelphia

There’s fierce competition down in the lotto dunk tank for Kansas stud Andrew Wiggins … and the completely dismantled 76ers will win the race while contesting their own NBA record for fewest victories in a season (nine).

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Buffalo 12/28/14 12:00 PM
New England
Cleveland 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Dallas 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Washington
Indianapolis 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
Jacksonville 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
San Diego 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Kansas City
NY Jets 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Miami
Chicago 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 12/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
New Orleans 12/28/14 12:00 PM
Tampa Bay
Carolina 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Green Bay
Oakland 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Denver
Arizona 12/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
St. Louis 12/28/14 3:25 PM
Seattle
Cincinnati 12/28/14 7:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Washington 102 FINAL
New York 91
Oklahoma City 114 FINAL
San Antonio 106
Cleveland 91 FINAL
Miami 101
LA Lakers 93 FINAL
Chicago 113
Golden State 86 FINAL
LA Clippers 100
DePaul 69 FINAL
Loyola Marymount 72
Ohio 58 FINAL
Nebraska 71
Colorado 66 FINAL
Hawaii 69
George Washington 60 FINAL
Wichita State 54
Central Mich 48 FINAL
Western Ky 49
Fresno State 6 FINAL
Rice 30
Illinois 12/26/14 12:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
Rutgers 12/26/14 3:30 PM
North Carolina
NC State 12/26/14 7:00 PM
UCF
Cincinnati 12/27/14 12:00 PM
Virginia Tech
Duke 12/27/14 1:10 PM
(15) Arizona State
Miami-Florida 12/27/14 2:30 PM
So Carolina
Boston College 12/27/14 3:30 PM
Penn State
(25) Nebraska 12/27/14 7:00 PM
(24) USC
Texas A&M 12/29/14 1:00 PM
West Virginia
Oklahoma 12/29/14 4:30 PM
(18) Clemson
Arkansas 12/29/14 8:00 PM
Texas
Notre Dame 12/30/14 2:00 PM
(22) LSU
(13) Georgia 12/30/14 5:45 PM
(20) Louisville
Maryland 12/30/14 9:00 PM
Stanford
(9) Ole Miss 12/31/14 11:30 AM
(6) TCU
(21) Boise State 12/31/14 3:00 PM
(12) Arizona
(8) Miss State 12/31/14 7:00 PM
(10) Georgia Tech
(19) Auburn 1/1/15 11:00 AM
(17) Wisconsin
(7) Michigan State 1/1/15 11:30 AM
(4) Baylor
(16) Missouri 1/1/15 12:00 PM
Minnesota
(2) Florida State 1/1/15 4:00 PM
(3) Oregon
(5) Ohio State 1/1/15 7:30 PM
(1) Alabama
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