10th Chicago Bulls
This is one of those, will it work or won’t it work? The Bulls have talent, but the combination of Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler might be too much.
Three players who are all well known for wanting the ball. Everything must come through Rondo if he is to be at his most effective, while Wade’s best shot is the shot that he creates for himself. Butler is the most versatile, but he is their best player.
Expect highlight plays galore as Rondo dishes dimes game after game, but there will be many nights where they can’t get coherency on the offensive end.
Taj Gibson, Tony Snell, Nikola Mirotic and Doug McDermott must all improve on last season, but even then the Bulls may still just miss out again.
9th Washington Wizards
It could be heartbreakingly tight for the Wizards as they narrowly miss out on the postseason. A huge improvement is expected on last season, with Beal returning to full health and a vast improvement on Center Nene Hilario with the addition of Ian Mahinmi.
I’m a big fan of the additions of Trey Burke and Jason Smith, but they may still be missing that something special in the front court, and Marcin Gortat is not getting any younger.
One or two injuries could easily destroy the Wizards season, and throughout a long 6 months of #basketball in the East, a clean bill of health is rarely a guarantee.
8th Miami Heat
The Chris Bosh situation seems no closer to being resolved, but after a second health scare, we can all hope that Bosh does not encounter the same problem with blood clotting anytime in the future – and that goes beyond his basketballing career. In all likelihood Bosh will not return this season, and that will be a huge backwards step for a team already rebuilding.
However, having watched the Heat almost every game last season, I am fully aware of just how good this young unit can be, and the likes of Tyler Johnson, Josh Richardson, Hassan Whiteside and Justise Winslow will continue to develop on the offensive end while causing all sorts of youthful mischief on defence.
The loss of Dwyane Wade is likely to prove a positive in the long run, while in the short term one has to feel that Dragic and the other guards that enjoy a higher tempo will be huge beneficiaries.
Dion Waiters and Derrick Williams can provide more scoring off the bench, while Briante Weber and Willie Reed will be two players to keep an eye on. And Whiteside deserves a greater mention here as he stamps his place as the leader on this Heat team, as he looks destined for a great season.
7th Milwaukee Bucks
Until Khris Middleton returns post-All Star break, the Bucks may be on the outside looking in, but they will end the season strong as they see their line-up take shape.
If they can manage to trade away Greg Monroe then the feeling is they could be even higher, but for now the sensational talents of Giannis Antetokounmpo and Jabari Parker will be just enough to make the post-season.
Mirza Teletovic, Jason Terry and Matthew Dellavedova are great additions, and while Michael Beasley cannot defend, he is a valuable scoring threat to soften the early loss of Middleton.
The experiment of Antetokounmpo at Point Guard should work, especially when you surround him with shooters such as Teletovic, Terry and Beasley.
6th Atlanta Hawks
A lot of key changes for the Hawks may see them drop down the order from last season. Dennis Schroder takes over the realms as the starting Point Guard as Jeff Teague was traded, while Al Horford is replaced by Dwight Howard at Center.
How healthy Howard can be will ultimately determine the success that the Hawks will have. While one believes that Paul Millsap will be a great beneficiary as he receives more space as the stretch-4 with Howard controlling the paint.
There rebounding will also improve with Howard, and Taurean Prince will be of high value off the bench as the rookie proves to be a steal.
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