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NBA 2023-2024 season preview – Eastern Conference

The heat is on in the Eastern Conference like whatever hair straighteners Jimmy Butler used on media day. Just don’t call it tampering.

Giannis antetokounmpo and damian lillard 2023 2024 season preview eastern conference
Giannis antetokounmpo and damian lillard 2023 2024 season preview eastern conference

ATLANTIC DIVISION

Boston Celtics

The Celtics got smart this off-season. Even if losing both Marcus Smart and Malcolm Brogdon weren’t exactly genius moves. Adding the size and prime of Kristaps Porzingis to their dynamic duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown was. Just like picking up Jrue Holiday after the big Bucks blockbuster trade. Now the former finalists will battle to become beast of the East.

Brooklyn Nets

Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving and James Harden may be long gone, but Ben Simmons is still hopefully here. Yay! Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson showed their worth for Team USA in this summer’s FIBA World Cup, but this team that Jay-Z used to have a stake in is all about platinum, not bronze. Picking up playoff hero Lonnie Walker IV and Dennis Smith Jr. was good. Giving more than Spencer Dinwiddie the bag would be even better.

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New York Knicks

As long as pure point God Jalen Brunson is running the ship, all will be well in the Big Apple. Minus the worms of bad luck. The core of Julius Randle and Maple Mamba R.J. Barrett, plus glue guys like Evan Fournier and Josh Hart, give the Knicks their most legit unit since the 90s. It’s time to hit like Reggie Miller in The Garden, instead of the great John Starks. Isn’t that right, Spike?

Philadelphia 76ers

By the time you read this, where will James Harden be? Certainly not here. If Dame can get out of dodge, so can The Beard. Besides, he’s done it before. Reigning MVP Joel Embiid can’t do it on his own. He’s no Nikola Jokić. Tyrese Maxey, Tobias Harris, Montrezl Harrell, Mo Bamba, Kelly Oubre Jr., Danny Green, Patrick Beverley and sneaker king P.J. Tucker. It’s a stacked squad led by the one and only Nick Nurse. But the jokes on you if you’re still calling this a process.

Toronto Raptors

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No longer nursed by Nick, the Raptors are still clawing their way back to the same contention that caught them a ‘chip. Adding World Cup winner Dennis Schröder is more menacing than you think. Our very own Raps are still spicy with Pascal Siakam, Scottie Barnes and O.G. Anunoby. It’s a family affair like Gary Trent Jr. and Ron Harper Jr., passed down from pops. This one is for the dogs.

CENTRAL DIVISION

Chicago Bulls

Will the Bulls backcourt of Zach LaVine and DeMar DeRozan soon represent the D.C. days of John Wall and Bradley Beal? Even without an injured Lonzo Ball, the Bullpen has a glut of great guards like Alex Caruso on the defensive. With a rejuvenated Andre Drummond up-front with Nikola Vucevic (always trust a Nikola), they’re trending in the right direction. Time for that second wind, grabbing this season by the horns.

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Cleveland Cavaliers

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For the superstar Tracy McGrady was, he was still underrated compared to his peers. The same can be said for Donovan Mitchell, leading the Cavs across his Spida verse. Not to mention, their young big-three of Evan Mobley, Jarrett Allen and Darius Garland to the best record in the L early on. Drafting Emoni Bates and bringing back Tristan Thompson will keep the fans in favour. The future of the wine and gold is cleaner than those new white uniforms. We just wish Ricky Rubio good mental health.

Detroit Pistons

The Pistons have become an assembly line of adding top rookies to the Motor City mix. With the fifth pick in the 2023 NBA Draft, Ausar Thompson shakes hands with Silver like Cade Cunningham and them. Detroit is deeper than you think, with Bojan Bogdanovic and Joe Harris from downtown Motown. There was a time when Sacramento were just stockpiling draft picks, but now they’re beam kings.

Indiana Pacers

Classic coach Rick Carlisle’s Pacers’ team runs smoother than shower water off the back of his forehead. Trading up for top ten pick Jarace Walker adds even more potential to the post Sabonis era that still has Buddy Hield and Myles Turner, despite many a Hollywood trade rumour.

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It’s Team USA standout Tyrese Haliburton that’s the here and now on the cusp of the new season. Adding the popping dunks of Obi Toppin and stealing champion Bruce Brown from Denver will only inspire Indiana even more.

Milwaukee Bucks

There’s no failure in sports when you clock Damian Lillard just in time for Media Day. Alongside one of the best in the association in Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks have more than “just” one of the league’s best one-two punches. Even if it is one that reminds you of Oscar and Kareem. Stop sleeping on Khris Middleton.

The Greek Freak could be telling him they did it again next summer. Bobby Portis, Jae Crowder, Cameron Payne and two Lopez brothers like there are Antetokounmpo’s?! The Bucks ain’t stopping now.

SOUTHEAST DIVISION

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Going emo after losing out on dame this time
Going emo after losing out on Dame this time

Atlanta Hawks

Last off-season, partnering Dejounte Murray up with Trae Young was cold. A peach of a deal for Atlanta. Now it’s time this became an A-plus whilst it’s still fresh (see Chicago). Otherwise, the only finger to lips will come from the Basketball Gods as the Hawks let another prayer fly. Former Spurs and ruling Aussie Patty Mills is exactly the voice the young roster needs to make it pop.

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Charlotte Hornets

Mike’s gone like it was baseball season, but with LaMelo Ball pitching passes, the hive is still buzzing. Especially with the Brandon Miller time of the second pick. Charlotte are good, but to be great they’ve got to take some lessons from the G.O.A.T. Terry Rozier and Gordon Hayward are still better than what comes up about them on an opposing team’s scouting report. Elsewhere, Frank Ntilikina was quite the pick-up. There’s just still a lot of honey to comb through, like the Miles Bridges controversy.

Miami Heat

All hail Jimmy Butler, the king of NBA Media Day. Last year he looked like a Marley, this year, a Fall Out Boy. Is this emo haircut in response to losing out on the Dame D.O.L.L.A. sweepstakes? At least Tyler Herro is safe. Buckets took to social media to call tampering. Regardless, we know agent 22 could take the Heat all the way on his own. With Bam Adebayo, he doesn’t need to.

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Losing Gabe Vincent hurts. Yet, with a little bit of Love and Thomas Bryant’s on the bench, inside information of the team that just beat them in the Finals, Miami has a game-plan. They’ll need to switch Nikola Jovic for the other one at half-time though to have any chance of beating Denver.

Orlando Magic

It’s no longer a tragic kingdom when you draft Anthony Black to compliment Paolo Banchero. No doubt. The Magic are back. No more Disney dreams. Banchero was brilliant for Team USA in the FIBA World Cup. As were the Wagner brothers for the victorious Germany. Add Slam Dunk champ Mac McClung to the Florida project, and soon Orlando will be able to cling onto a playoff berth the way kids do their parents hands when they see those Mickey Mouse ears after a long holiday drive. Sometimes promises’ pay off.

Washington Wizards

This roster needs more than a magic wand waved over it after losing the real deal, Bradley Beal. Not to mention Japanese Laker Rui Hachimura. Gone quicker than a Shinkansen at last season’s trade-deadline. Wes Unseld Jr. needs some coaching from his Bullet legend father. Kyle Kuzma is a smooth star like another former Laker Eddie Jones once was. Drafting Bilal Coulibaly and signing Tyus Jones gives them a future. Jordan Poole has a point to prove too. It’s just far from a party in DC…at the moment anyway.

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