BREAKING DOWN THE CROWDED EAST

2022-09-27 · 5 min read · NBA/Basketball
Detroit Pistons can be the NBA’s next great team

Nic Antaya/Getty Images

TIER FOUR: FUN, BUT A FEW YEARS AWAY
Detroit
There might not be a young core in the East that I’m higher on than the Detroit Pistons.
Cade Cunningham was overshadowed in his rookie campaign by the surprise play of Scottie Barnes and the defensive prowess of Evan Mobley, mostly due to the success of Toronto and Cleveland. But make no mistake, this guy is a special player.
His unselfishness and playmaking ability are a perfect match in the backcourt with this year’s 5th overall pick Jaden Ivey, who fell to the Pistons in the draft this past June.
Ivey is a pure scorer, and he and Cunningham could be the next great Pistons backcourt. Up front, they also drafted Jalen Duren out of Memphis, who’s raw, but certainly has promise.
Detroit still needs help in the frontcourt, and they also need to add some veterans to balance out their young roster, but they’re on the right track to returning to prominence.
Orlando
Number one overall pick Paulo Banchero will make an immediate impact, and he’s exactly what this team needs; an elite scorer.
He’ll be joining the likes of Franz Wagner, Jalen Suggs and Cole Anthony to form one of the best young rosters in the league. Suggs, last year’s lottery pick, was pretty awful in his first season, but I’m willing to give him a mulligan considering he dealt with injuries and the roster around him stunk.
Jonathan Isaac (remember him?) is also on this team, and if he can ever find a way to stay healthy, he’s a perfect fit next to some of the young prospects.
Orlando is very young, and will probably lose a lot of close games. They’ll be feisty at the very least though.
New York
The Knicks certainly improved this summer. Though it was a well-documented overpay, the addition of Jalen Brunson will bring stability to the backcourt, and he should pair nicely with newly extended RJ Barrett, who has shown improvement every year he’s been in the league.
The Knicks also have some young talent on the roster in the form of Obi Toppin and Emmanuel Quickly, which is reason enough to have some optimism in New York for the future of this team.
The problem is, the East is too crowded for them to crack the playoffs this season, and they need to figure out what to do with Julius Randle, who just two years removed from an MVP calibre season, is now a total albatross who doesn’t want to be there.
The Knicks have some things going for them, but they’re still a ways away from relevancy.
TIER FIVE: OFFICIALLY IN THE WEMBANYAMA SWEEPSTAKES
Indiana
The Pacers do have some young pieces in place. Drafting the tough Benedict Mathurin in this year’s draft was a solid pickup. But they seem to be stuck between two different eras right now. They need to figure out trade partners for Myles Turner and Buddy Hield in order to fully commence the rebuild.
Tyrese Halliburton is a very good young player, but can we pump the breaks just a little bit on anointing him as the next great point guard in the league?
I’m just saying, I’d like to see some consistent play that contributes to winning over the course of a full year first.
As I said, there is some talent in place here, but the reality is it’s going to be a long season full of losses in Indiana. They’re more than a few pieces away from returning to the postseason.
Washington
The Wiz decided to give Bradley Beal the max because, well, they really didn’t have any other choice. He’s now a number two or three option being paid as a number one, which is never a good thing for team-building purposes.
This roster just leaves me flat. Kristaps Porzingis actually showed some signs of life after arriving at the deadline last spring from Dallas, but the days of him being able to carry a team, it seems are long gone.
They have some decent vets like Kyle Kuzma in place, but the overall talent level on this team just doesn’t stack up with the rest of the conference.
Charlotte
This team is a total mess.
Yes, LaMelo Ball is a star in the making, but once you get past him there’s little about this team that one can get excited about.
The coaching situation is one of the strangest in recent memory, as the surprising dismissal of promising Coach James Borrego lead to the hiring of Kenny Atkinson, who backed out last minute. Then, with few other options at their disposal, they decided to bring in former coach Steve Clifford for a second stint with the team.
The whole thing was very strange.
And of course, I have to mention the disturbing Miles Bridges domestic abuse story, which likely has ended his career as an NBA player, and will probably have him facing jail time.
This franchise had by far the worst offseason in the league, and they should be in for a rough season. At least there’s the possibility of Wembanyama to look forward to.
Sports Tree Profile

By: Eddie Huband

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