2014-15 NBA Season Preview: Part 2

The following is Part 2 of Tucker Iverson’s 2014-15 NBA Season Preview: The Eastern Conference. If you missed it yesterday, Part 1: The Western Conference can be found here.

Last night’s opening games were pretty exhilarating. The defending champs vanquished Dallas in a one-point game and the Magic lost to a huge effort from Anthony Davis and the Pelicans.  The next set of games are tonight at 7:00, and the Cavaliers roll out their new, Love-filled, LeBron-infused lineup Thursday night at 8:00 against the Knicks. Don’t miss it.


Part 2: The Eastern Conference

Miami Heat

Charlotte Bobcats v Miami Heat - Game One

Why they will be fun to watch

THE HEAT POST-LEBRON!! Can Dwayne Wade still put the team on his back, or on his ailing knees? Will the Heat even make the playoffs?  Will Chris Bosh star in the new Jurassic Park film?

All this and more, coming up next season.

Best-Case Scenario

Bosh turns out to be the world destroyer we saw back in Toronto, Wade’s new bionic knees propel him to the slash-and-kick monster he was pre-LeBron, and LeBron decides the whole move to Cleveland was a mistake and comes back.

Worst-Case Scenario

Wade’s health fails, Bosh can’t be a legitimate first option, and Mad Scientist Pat Riley tries desperately to replicate LeBron’s efficiency by genetically combining new team additions Josh McRoberts, Luol Deng, and the ghost of Danny Granger.

 

Washington Wizards

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Why they will be fun to watch

The NBA’s hottest team is Washington. This team has everything. The league’s best backcourt! The Polish Hammer! Old Man Pierce tearing up teams with his treachery! Kim Kardashian jokes! A Brazilian guy with one name! Dr. Andre Miller! And, like, that thing where a guy dresses up in a suit and pretends to be a good coach. The Wizards are so hot right now.

Best-Case Scenario

Derrick Rose doesn’t return to MVP form and this team, completely healthy, overpowers the Cavs in the Conference Finals. Bradley Beal invents the “Bradley Beal Dance,” a fun, kooky alternative to the “John Wall Dance.”

Worst-Case Scenario 

They don’t play great but their talent still carries them to a 4 or 5 seed in the East. They are knocked out in the first round by the Raptors, Hornets or Bulls. Gortat tries to make “The Polish Hammer Dance” a thing.

 

Cleveland Cavaliers

NBA: Cleveland Cavaliers-Media Day

Why they’ll be fun to watch

Because good basketball is fun to watch. And they’re going to be good. Very good.

Best-Case Scenario

Love/Kyrie/LeBron gel right away. Not only do they win the championship, but they shatter records. Blatt is named Coach of the Year. LeBron is MVP. The curse of Cleveland is broken. They put up 145 points a game and allow only 90. Johnny Manziel leads the Brown to 4 consecutive Super Bowls… Oops, I kinda got carried away there.

Worst-Case Scenario 

Dion Waiters is a toxic locker room fire, the new big three fail to have any chemistry, and Anderson Varejao gets hurt, leaving them with a gaping defensive hole in the paint.  Derrick Rose comes back in MVP form, and the Bulls beat them in 6 in the Eastern Conference Finals.

 

Indiana Pacers

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Why they will be fun to watch

Ok, some bad news. After Paul George’s horrific injury (DO NOT WATCH UNLESS YOU WANT TO BE SCARRED FOR LIFE), and after losing its most entertaining player/crazy person in free agency, this team straight up isn’t going to be very fun to watch. This was a team that already struggled to score, and losing the only two people who were serious threats to score will lead to the Pacers struggling to put up more than 85 points a night. Their defense will still be solid, and hopefully Roy Hibbert can be the first half of the season defensive stud, rather than the timid second-half of the season offensive liability. Maybe David West will try and fight another mascot? That might be fun to watch.

Best-Case Scenario

The Larry Bird from 25 years ago comes down from the GM’s office and suits up, giving the Pacers a much-needed offensive shot in the arm.  They limp their way to an 8 seed, and are downed by the Cavs in the first round.

Worst-Case Scenario

Hibbert goes down with an injury. Other teams can now score at will, and Indiana loses by an average score of 120-80.  Honestly, this team is kind of depressing.

 

Brooklyn Nets

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Why they will be fun to watch

Will Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov make good on the promise he made in an interview to get married if the Nets don’t win the championship? Spoiler Alert: the Nets won’t win the championship.

Best-Case Scenario

Lopez’s ailing foot heals completely and forever. Deron Williams’s ailing basketball skills heal completely and forever.  Garnett figures out a way to stop the aging process, and lives forever. Hey, anything is possible!

Worst-Case Scenario

The Nets struggle with injuries and poor team cohesion, and get swept by their crosstown “rivals” the Knicks.  The pick that they have to swap with the Hawks ends up being the first-overall pick. That player ends up being the next LeBron James. The Nets are sold in the offseason to Bonald Sterling: an old, racist Jabba the Hutt-like man dressed in sunglasses and a false moustache.

 

Philadelphia 76ers

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Why they will be fun to watch

Let TankFest2014-15 begin! This team is not a real NBA team. They won a grand total of 19 games last year, and they traded away their legitimate NBA players for draft picks.  MCW Year-Two might be fun, but there’s a good chance they trade him for more draft picks. We will get to see some Nerlens Noel, and maybe some Embiid at the end of the year. There aren’t too many fun things to look forward to… Unless your favorite team is playing them.

Best-Case Scenario

They lose all of their games, get the first pick, and promptly sit him for an entire year.

Worst-Case Scenario

See Best-Case Scenario.

 

Milwaukee Bucks

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Why they’ll be fun to watch

After his failed coup of the Brooklyn Nets, Jason Kidd is the Bucks’ coach and probably spent the offseason developing new, improved tricks for winning games. Jabari Parker, already the front-runner for rookie of the year will probably be pretty good. Giannis Antetokounmpo will continue to live up to his crazy potential (he’s 6’11” and still growing!) and to display his absurd charisma.

Best-Case Scenario

This team is better than we all think, and Jabari already looks like the perennial All-Star he was predicted to be at the draft. Giannis continues to dance. The team wins half of its games in a weaker Eastern Conference, and makes the playoffs under Kidd’s creative leadership.

Worst-Case Scenario

This team is exactly as bad as we all think.

 

New York Knicks

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Why they will be fun to watch

It will be fun to see how Melo fits into the triangle offense. It will be fun to watch Jose Calderon dishing sweet assists and making threes rain down on the enemy.  It will be fun to see if Cleanthony Early raps in any more of his rookie interviews. It will be fun to watch Bargnani and Amar’e battle it out for least effective player on the team. It will be fun to know that they will both be making over 12 million dollars this year.

Best-Case Scenario

Phil Jackson keeps everything zen. The triangle offense is the best thing to happen to New York since Blue Ivy was born and Derek Fisher turns out to be an excellent head coach just one year removed from playing significant minutes in the playoffs. Carmelo is an MVP candidate like he was two years ago.  They win a lot of games with a combination of Spike Lee’s willpower and J.R. Smith’s shoe untying ability.

Worst-Case Scenario

Nothing works. They have no defense. J.R. Smith breaks the record for most attempted 3-pointers, again. Carmelo regrets his new giant contract and asks to be traded. But hey, at least they have a first round pick…right?

 

Chicago Bulls

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Why they will be fun to watch

They will play hard defense. Defensive player of the year Joakim Noah in league defensive wiz Tom Thibodeau’s system is almost unfair to the rest of the league.  They have the biggest chance of anyone in the Eastern Conference to defeat the Cavs; the only caveat is offense. Derrick Rose is the key to the whole season. If he returns to MVP form, this team will be extremely tough to defend and to score on.

Best-Case Scenario

Rose is the Rose from 2011. New additions Pau Gasol, Doug McDermott, and Nicola Mirotic boost this team to the top of the Eastern Conference where they meet LeBron heading a Cavs team that has yet to reach its full potential.

Worst-Case Scenario

Rose can’t stay healthy. Dougie McBuckets is just Jimmer 2.0. Thibodeau can’t get the offense on the same level as his defense and this team mires its way to a very mundane .500 record.  Pau Gasol leaves basketball forever to start a boy band with Marc.

Hit it Pau.

 

Detroit Pistons

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Why they will be fun to watch

Andre Drummond’s off-court Disney-star romance sagas. Josh Smith averaging literally [Ed.: figuratively] a million shots per game. Also, new coach Stan Van Gundy is the guy who took the Orlando Magic to the finals with a backcourt of Rafer Alston and Courtney Lee. Could this season be better than the 29-53 disaster of last year?

Best-Case Scenario 

They are a pretty good team in the weak East, at least enough for a playoff berth.  Josh Smith is traded for Rondo. Meanwhile, Drummond pursues Ariana Grande and Van Gundy puts himself in at point guard.

Worst-Case Scenario

 

Charlotte Hornets

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Why they will be fun to watch

What’s that? I can’t hear you! There’s a lot of wind.

Yeah. Lance is going to make this team amazing to watch even if I tune in just to see if he tones down the crazy, or if he ramps it up.

Best-Case Scenario

This team could actually have a shot in the East. Kemba, Lance, Big Al are excellent starters with MKG, Vonleh, Zeller and MKG’s improved jumper coming off the bench. If everything goes right, they get Miami, Toronto or Washington in the first round, which is absolutely a winnable series. If this happens, their owner will be happier than when he and the Tune Squad beat the Monstars even after they were losing 18 points to “Kinda one sided isn’t it?” points at the half.

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Worst-Case Scenario

Big Al’s knees don’t hold up and Kemba/Lance can’t carry this squad to a .500 record in the East. The team is so desperate for depth that Patrick Ewing and Jordan both come out of retirement to play. Wait a second… That isn’t a worst-case at all… That sounds awesome. I take it back, I hope this happens.

 

Orlando Magic

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Why they will be fun to watch

They had a GREAT draft. It’s literally always fun to see if rookies will exceed expectations, or if they’ll be busts. Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton were excellent pickups. Payton was described in the draft as a leader who can carry a franchise. Gordon has crazy athleticism, and his ceiling is allegedly a prime Shawn Marion. I’m also excited to see if Oladipo gets better in his second year.

Best-Case Scenario

If Aaron Gordon and Elfrid Payton both retain the skills that they displayed in college this team could surprise a few good ones. Also, if Gordon keeps tweeting, he could have an amazing year on Twitter (eek, I hope he is being responsible!). Also, it would rock if Orlando’s owner, Richard DeVos, realizes the team’s name is pretty lame and he changes it to something cool, like the Orlando Ocelots.

Worst-Case Scenario

It could get bad if it becomes apparent in a matter of months that Payton, Oladipo and Gordon can’t carry the burden of this team this season, or even the next few. Furthermore, on top of this horrible news, the owner decides that the Orlando Magic is still a dope name.

 

Atlanta Hawks

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Why they will be fun to watch

Three things in this world are certain: Death, Taxes (unless you’re Wesley Snipes), and the Hawks making the playoffs.  The opposite of the tanking teams, the Hawks are perfectly content with making the playoffs, even if it is as the 8th seed.  Last year they nearly knocked off the first-seeded Pacers in the first round. Kyle Korver set the record last year for most games in a row with a 3-pointer and Al Horford is one of the league’s most underrated big men.

Best-Case Scenario

They make the playoffs as a low seed. They win in the first round against Chicago, Washington or Toronto.

Worst-Case Scenario

They make the playoffs as a low seed. They lose in the first round against Chicago, Washington or Toronto.

 

Boston Celtics

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Why they will be fun to watch

The Celtics are also part of TankFest 2014-15 (see Philadelphia), especially with Rajon Rondo returning from a trampoline park injury.  It will be less fun to watch them on the court, and more fun to watch them throughout the season to see if they make any crazy aggressive moves before the trade deadline. Little storylines like “Will Marcus Smart can play at a Rookie of the Year Level?” and “Did Kelly Olynyk cut his hair in the offseason?” can keep Celts fans busy throughout the year.

Best-Case Scenario

Someone is willing to receive half a guaranteed year of Rondo for four first round picks, Smart and Young are contributors but they don’t contribute to winning games, the Celts win the lottery and draft the next Larry Bird.

Worst-Case Scenario

No one wants Rondo, and it turns out the Smart pick was anything but. Another worst-case scenario for the Celtics is if they are better than is expected. That would be awkward because everyone in the administration but coach Brad Stevens is straight up trying to lose.

 

Toronto Raptors

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Why they will be fun to watch

Because the NBA’s only Canadian team has the NBA’s best celebrity ambassador, the NBA’s most willing-to-curse GM, the NBA’s newest Brazilian rookie who is two years away from being two years away, a shooting guard who wore 15 different shoes in the first 15 games last year, and a point guard who Paul Pierce described as “an animal.”

Best-Case Scenario

They snag the Eastern Conference 1-seed as it takes a while for the Cavs to develop elite chemistry and the Bulls’ offensive woes catch up with them. Lowry and DeRozan both make the All-Star team and Dwayne Casey is Coach of the Year.

Worst-Case Scenario

Last season was a fluke and their failure to snag an NBA-ready player in the draft catches up with them.  Somewhere in the distance, a solitary tear spills down Drake’s face as he whispers out his window, “I thought we were for real.”

 

Thanks for reading! I hope you’re looking forward to the 2014-15 season as much as I am! If you missed Part 1, click here to read it. 

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