Team: Miami Heat
Key Additions: Justise Winslow, Amare Stoudamire, Gerald Green
Key Losses: None
Outlook: Miami comes into this season with their sights set on representing the Eastern Conference in the NBA finals. The Heat are bringing back a healthy Chris Bosh and were able to sign Goran Dragic and draft Justice Winslow. Not to mention, they have Dwayne Wade who may be re-energized, Hasaan Whiteside who continues to develop, and Loul Deng who is still one of the best two way players in the league. The Heat got deeper in the off season and are much improved. Wade will miss games as usual, but Winslow may be a player that can step in and pick up the slack. The Heat should finish top three in the East and if they are healthy going into the playoffs they will be one of two teams that are able to challenge the Cavs.
Team: Washington Wizards
Key Additions: Alan Anderson, Jared Dudley, Gary Neal
Key Losses: Paul Pierce
Outlook: The Wizards are a team that didn’t get better in the off-season. They lost Paul Pierce who was a veteran voice in the locker room and someone who didn’t mind having the ball in his hands at the end of games. Now they have an opening at small forward, which we can assume will go to Otto Porter and they will have to find someone who can step up and hit clutch shots. They have one of the better back courts in the league and also have one of the better pairs of bigs in Nene and Gortat. Beyond that, this team doesn’t have much depth and will take a step back this season.
Team: Atlanta Hawks
Key Additions: Tim Hardaway Jr, Jason Richardson, Tiago Splitter
Key Losses: DeMarre Carroll
Outlook: Overachievers last year, the Hawks are another team that should be taking a step back this season. The additions the Hawks made were much needed. Bringing in Tim Hardaway Jr who can play both shooting guard and small forward will help, but the Tiago Splitter move is key since it will allow Al Horford to play his natural position at power forward. Jason Richardson is a much needed veteran for this team even if he doesn’t play much. One could argue that even though they lost Carroll they actually got better, the problem is that they were tooooo good last year and the rest of the East also got better.
Team: Charlotte Hornets
Key Additions: Frank Kaminsky, Nicholas Batum, Tyler Hansbrough, Jeremy Lin, Jeremy Lamb
Key Losses: Mo Williams
Outlook: Now they really look bad for skipping on Justice Winslow. MKG is scheduled to miss the season with a shoulder injury and his absence leaves a hole in the middle of their lineup. More than likely, it creates a chance for Jeremy Lamb to start alongside his college teammate Kemba Walker. Nicholas Batum is a great addition and the Hornets are deep at the 4 and 5 positions. They have a solid back-up point guard in Jeremy Lin, but where this team will struggle is where it has historically, and that is on the wing. PJ Hairston and Marvin Williams will need to provide something from the perimeter off the bench if this team wants to be in contention for one of the last playoff spots.
Team: Orlando Magic
Key Additions: CJ Watson
Key Losses: Kyle O’Quinn, Mo Harkless, Willie Green
Outlook: The Magic have a nice, young core of Elfrid Payton, Victor Oladipo, Tobias Harris, Aaron Gordon, and Nikola Vucevic. This team is definitely one of the upcoming, exciting to watch teams, but that being said, they are too young. Scott Skiles will have them in playoff contention in the next year or two, but until they gain some experience and improve their bench, the Magic will continue to be one of the bottom teams in the East.
To read the rest of Nick’s Eastern Conference preview go to The Give And Go.