their rankings, and I know I'm an idiot for writing this. I enjoy going through the rankings and they usually get me in the mindset for the season. Also, it's a pretty good representation of the general consensus because it is based on a vote of 53 people with an interest in the game. So to the masses out there reading this, I'm sorry. At least this isn't about Ricky Rubio.
This is ESPN's order with my annotations:
1. Cavs. The safe pick. Here's the problem: Shaq is going to absolutely blow this year. I think that will hurt their defense and move them down one spot. But in the East they may still be in first place just by virtue of LeBron.
2. Celtics. You can't really put them anywhere else, but with the high possibility of injuries, it's hard to predict what will happen to the Celtics. I think they'll have the best regular season record in the east just because they are consistent and because Rondo is becoming really, really good.
3. Magic. Lewis on steroids. Vince Carter coming to town. Hedo going to Canada. I don't like it and think they'll be worse than the Hawks this year. They seem like a team where everything came together at exactly the right time, and I don't think that will continue.
4. Hawks. Solid young team. Another year of experience. The addition of Jamal Crawford and Joe Smith. I say they're the third best team in the East. I think Marvin Williams may really come into his own this year and with him, Crawford, and Bibby on the wing and Horford and Smith down low, there are no weak points in the starting lineup.
5. Heat. I don't think Wade will make it through this season without getting injured, but he's so good that it's impossible to count out a team he plays on. If Chalmers and Beasley can step it up, which I am sure will happen at least with Chalmers, this seems like a reasonable prediction.
6. Bulls. They looked great against the Celtics and then let their second best player (who hit huge shots in the playoffs) go. But at least they pay Brad Miller and Luol Deng more than they refused to pay Gordon. I hate the move to let Gordon go but recognize that Tyrus Thomas, Rose, Noah, Deng, and Salmons are all good young players. Unfortunately, they're all in disorder. Will the Bulls play Kirk Hinrich at shooting guard? Jannero Pargo? Will that be Salmons' job? The Bulls should be ranked 9 due to their screwy mix.
7. 76ers. Elton Brand is back. They sucked with Elton Brand. They have no point guard. They have no shooters. They have no center. "But Marrese Speights' had a top-10 Hollinger rating!" They will not make the playoffs, even though I think Eddie Jordan is a great coach. Put them in at 12.
8. Wizards. Obviously everything hinges on Gilbert Arenas. Because he's been so unreliable for the last two years, I'm putting this team at 11. Randy Foye and Mike Miller won't be difference makers.
9. Raptors. The Raptors look legit to me. Calderon and Jack are good point guards, Belinelli is a decent SG, Turkoglu obviously can mash, Bosh is an all-star, and Bargnani sneaky came into his own last year. I don't know why for the life of me anyone would think this team is worse than the Sixers. I think they'll finish at 6.
10. Pistons. They were 39 and 43 last year. They subtracted Rasheed, who was on his deathbed, and added Ben Gordon, Villaneuva, Chris Wilcox, and Ben Wallace. Rodney Stuckey is poised for a big year. How the hell is this team going to miss the playoffs? I put them at a strong 7 and can't imagine why anyone would put them at 10. /notices Kwame Brown penciled in as starting center.
11. Bobcats. Great coach and great potential to be a good defensive team, but they lack that one scorer. If Gerald Henderson turns out to be ROY (i'll eat my hat) they could be a player but for now they need just a little more. 10. (/Boris Diaw "sacre bleu!")
12. Pacers. This is actually a very good team. TJ Ford is a good point guard, Dahntay Jones is coming into his own as a late-bloomer, Granger is amazing, Troy Murphy put up David Lee stats last year but shoots 40% from 3pt, and Jeff Foster, well, he sucks, but Roy Hibbert might not be bad. Plus with Tyler Hansbrough, Mike Dunleavy, Earl Watson, and Brandon Rush off the bench, the Pacers can almost go ten deep. I like them as the 8 seed. And by the way, if you don't think Tyler Hansbrough is the perfect player for this team, you don't know anything about basketball. Or Indiana. Or white people.
13. Knicks. The Knicks are currently locking out the only player that plays hard on their team. Darko Milicic will probably start at center for them. Their only young prospects at this point are Wilson Chandler and Danilo Gallinari, who play the same position. Even if they sign Lee and Robinson and/or Sessions, both of those guys are not enough to lift this team out of the basement. 15. Go Knicks.
14. Bucks. If Redd could play, this team would not be terrible. However, that's a big if. I like them starting Amir Johnson and I think Bmah a Moute may actually develop into someone good, but they need more than Ridnour at point and I don't think Charlie Bell or Brandon Jennings can get things going without an A-lister somewhere. Bogut has shown that he is a talented non-factor. 14 seems appropriate.
15. Nets. Not a good mix of players, not a good overall situation, but this is not the worst team in the east, either. Devin Harris is probably the best point guard in the eastern conference. Brook Lopez could be (/shudder) the best center in the eastern conference. I like Courtney Lee, Jarvis Hayes, and Chris Douglas-Roberts and whomever gets playing time will be at least replacement level. Bobby Simmons, if he returns healthy, is actually a pretty legit perimeter threat, and Yi Jianlian...well, he sucks, but I think the Nets are a strong 13. /Chinese government censor enters rectum
So, to recap, here are the DGU official standings predictions: