Let’s get serious for a second. There are only a couple of teams that are ready to challenge the Miami Heat for the title. The rest are just happy to make the playoffs and head off to vacation after being swept.
There are a handful of teams that made just enough changes this offseason to be those happy teams.
Let’s start in the Eastern Conference.
Detroit Pistons – The Pistons made significant changes by adding the likes of Josh Smith and Brandon Jennings. They did just enough to win and keep their fans satisfied. They will be a menace for many teams during the regular season. Maurice Cheeks is a huge upgrade on the coaching side. Watch for them to make the playoffs and then be swept or maybe even steal a game.
Cleveland Cavaliers – I love what this team has done. They have a superstar in Kyrie Irving. That’s the first step. They took a chance in a former superstar in Andrew Bynum. If everyone plays up to their potential, this team will be hovering near the top of the Eastern Conference. Earl Clark and Jarrett Jack are huge additions. Too bad they don’t have LeBron James. Look for them in the playoffs and take over the spot the Milwaukee Bucks held last year – the eighth-seed being swept by the Heat. Thanks for playing!
Shall we look at the Western Conference?
New Orleans Pelicans – The name alone should keep them from the playoffs, but that roster sure does look nice. Tyreke Evans (yes, he was way overpaid), Jrue Holiday, and a healthy (that’s the key) Eric Gordon make for a difficult backcourt to handle. Anthony Davis and his eyebrow are ready for a huge season. This team also has many tradable pieces that can land them a veteran player, which is much needed. They’ll grab that eighth-seed this year.
Dallas Mavericks – It looks like Mark Cuban is just content on trying to get the team to the playoffs than challenging for the title. Keep Dirk Nowitzki happy until he retires seems to be the motto. Signing Monta Ellis, Devin Harris, DeJuan Blair are major improvements. It’s just enough to keep Nowitzki happy and the Mavericks in the playoffs as the six- or seven-seed.