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2020 NBA Eastern Conference Power Rankings

With the start of the 2020-21 NBA season rapidly approaching, take a look at who I think will shock the NBA world this season and wbo will come up short of their pre-season hype.

#15 Detroit Pistons

Coming off of a 2019-20 season in which the Pistons finished at 13th in the Eastern Conference, the Pistons are in a full-on rebuild. At last year’s trade deadline, Detroit traded away Andre Drummond to Cleveland, leaving Blake Griffin alone as the only established star in Detroit. This offseason, the Pistons made a trio of questionable moves signing big men Jahlil Okafor, Jerami Grant, and Mason Plumlee, each to multi-year deals. The Pistons also have veteran big Dwayne Dedmon as well as 2020 16th overall pick Isaiah Stewart who will battle for minutes at the 4 & 5 positions. 2019 lottery pick Sekou Doumbouya doesn’t exactly have a clear path to playing time this season, which is disappointing for his investors. Although there are some signs of talent, the Pistons lack capable starters at the 1-3 positions and should flounder at the bottom of the Eastern Conference this season.

#14 New York Knicks

For years the New York Knicks have been at the bottom of the Eastern Conference. This year will be no different, however they won’t be the worst team in the league. The number three overall pick from the 2019 NBA Draft, R.J Barrett will need to greatly improve if the Knicks want to climb out of the cellar of the East. Surrounding Barrett this season are a slew of disappointing draft picks, albeit not all were chosen by the Knicks. The likely starting five will deploy Dennis Smith Jr, R.J Barrett, Kevin Knox, Julius Randle, and Mitchell Robinson. Off the bench, you’ll see more former lottery picks with the likes of Nerlens Noel, Frank Ntilikina, Austin Rivers, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and 2020 lottery pick Obi Toppin. Toppin should put up solid stats this season and could see a few starts down the line. This lineup of former top prospects won’t be enough to crack the playoffs just yet.

#13 Cleveland Cavaliers

While there are pieces in place for success, this season will be about development and improvement for the Cavs young bunch. Lottery picks Darius Garland, Colin Sexton and Issac Okoro should all see meaningful minutes together. This group has the potential to put up points on a nightly basis. With Kevin Love and Andre Drummond paired up down low, the Cavs actually have a formidable starting five on paper. The bench unit is very lack luster as second year wing Kevin Porter Jr. is yet to join the team due to ongoing personal issues. Without KPJ off the bench, the Cavs are going to struggle to get buckets. Love and Drummond may rebound well but their defense together leaves something yet to be desired. It should be another two years before the Cavs are in the playoffs, unless these young ball handlers develop early.

#12 Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic managed to sneak into the NBA playoffs and even win one game against the one seed Milwaukee Bucks. Unfortunately for Orlando, they will be without forward Jonathan Isaac who will miss the entirety of the 2020-21 season due to torn left ACL and meniscus, his second major knee injury. Adding on to the Isaac injury, the Magic did not make any major additions that will supplement the loss of their starting wing. Other teams in the East such as the Hawks and the Nets are much improved which bumps the Magic out of the playoffs. Nikola Vucevic and Aaron Gordon should be able to string together solid performances which translate to a few wins. However, don’t expect to see a playoff push from this team in 2020-21.

#11 Charlotte Hornets

The Hornets had a very active offseason as they not only selected LaMelo Ball with the number three overall pick in the NBA Draft, but they also signed Gordon Hayward to a four year 120-million-dollar contract. Long term, this is a very hefty price to pay for a veteran with an extensive history of injuries. For now, he provides a veteran presence that should complement Devontae Graham, Terry Rozier and LaMelo Ball nicely. The lack of a big man is what will ultimately be the Hornets downfall. Miles Bridges should continue to progress as he splits time between the 3 & 4 playing with Hayward. This active offseason doesn’t seem likely to translate to success quite yet for Charlotte.

#10 Chicago Bulls

Over the past handful of years, the Chicago Bulls have been stocking up on young talent including Lauri Markkanen, Wendell Carter Jr, Zach LaVine, Coby White and most recently the number four overall pick in the 2020 draft Patrick Williams. This starting group is still young and learning their way. Markkanen has been solid since entering the league but has not played at an all-star level. Carter Jr. has been a disappointment for the most part, but there is still plenty of potential. Look for the back court of LaVine and White to develop into one of the best in the East this season. The supporting cast is still lack luster, but expect lots of improvements this season followed by a playoff run in 2022.

#9 Washington Wizards

Making what might have been the biggest move of the NBA offseason, the Wizards flipped John Wall for Russell Westbrook. Many are questioning if this actually makes the Wizards better than they were with Wall. Last season Washington was without Wall and surrounded Bradley Beal with a group of young players. Rui Hachimura had a decent rookie campaign last season and should develop into a solid player for the Wizards. The backcourt of Beal and Westbrook is amongst the best in the league and should help catapult them into contention for a playoff spot. A questionable surrounding cast and questions about Russ’s ability to play alongside Beal leave me hesitant to place them into the playoffs.

#8 Indiana Pacers

If there is one team in the NBA that did not get better or worse, it would be the Indiana Pacers. Rumors swirled about a potential Gordon Hayward addition, but that did not come to fruition as Hayward opted to take a more lucrative deal with Charlotte. The biggest change in Indy is at the head coaching spot with Nate Bjorkgren now at the helm. With the other teams in the East improving and the Pacers without a true #1 option, they may have a tough year. Victor Oladipo struggled in his return from injury last season but T.J Warren took a big leap forward. A very deep team, it should be interesting to see how the Pacers fare this season.

#7 Atlanta Hawks

The Atlanta Hawks had one of the most active and impressive NBA offseason. They added free agents Kris Dunn, Rajan Rondo, Danilo Gallinari, and Bogdan Bogdanovic. The Hawks also selected Onyeka Okongwu with the sixth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft. With Trae Young leading the charge and continuing to play well, the Hawks are poised for a breakout season. Clint Capela and John Collins should play well together down low for Atlanta. There are some defensive questions with this team as Trae Young’s defense needs improvement. This deep team with a solid mix of veterans and youth, should have a solid season.

#6 Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors develop talent incredibly well. Fred VanVleet, Pascal Siakam, and O.G Anunoby have become very solid players after not performing at a high level for the first couple years of their careers. Veterans Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka have migrated to L.A leaving the Raptors with a void at the center spot. To help fill that void, Aron Baynes was brought in on a two-year deal. Baynes has been a solid backup big the past few seasons and could even see a larger role offensively than he’s ever seen before. Kyle Lowry is back leading this young group of grinders. As seen in the playoffs last season, the Raptors are a good team, but until someone steps up and takes the role of the number one option, they won’t be a top seed in the East.

#5 Philadelphia 76ers

The 76ers have been a playoff failure the last couple of seasons which ultimately led to the firing of Brett Brown. Philly brought in Doc Rivers to take over coaching this under achieving group and Daryl Morey to lead the front office. Almost immediately, the sixers shipped out Al Horford and Josh Richardson. A team that struggled to space the floor last year, the offseason goal was clear as Philly looked to surround Ben Simmons with shooters. They added Seth Curry and Danny Green to hopefully turn things around. This team lacks defense and until someone steps up to lead this team, they’ll be floating around in the middle of the Eastern Conference.

#4 Boston Celtics

Coming off of another Eastern Conference Finals lost, the Boston Celtics need to take the next step to get to the NBA finals. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will continue to get better but will the players around them be enough to help them get over the hump? With the loss of Gordon Hayward this offseason, the Celtics will need a combination of Aaron Nesmtih, Grant Williams, Jeff Teague and Payton Pritchard to step up. Through their two pre-season games, the Celtics looked rather sluggish and without much of a half-court offense. The good news for Celtics fans is that the team was +7 in the 48 minutes Jason Tatum was on the floor during the pre-season. The bad news is that the team was a -40 in the 48 minutes Tatum was not on the floor. The addition of Tristian Thompson is a big add for this team as he brings an intensity and veteran leader that this team lacks. Expect a sluggish start to the season for Boston until their all-star point guard Kemba Walker, returns to action.

#3 Milwaukee Bucks

Having Giannis Antetokounmpo on your roster pretty much thrusts a team into playoff contention. Surrounding the two-time MVP is newly acquired Jrue Holiday. Holiday is a big get for this team as he brings a level of defense and veteran scoring that they lack. Kris Middleton is back again with Brook Lopez but besides that, Milwaukee lacks depth. Donte DiVincenzo will likely get the start at the shooting guard spot. The players mentioned above are definitely a good enough group to get Milwaukee into a top seed in the East. How far they go from there will be interesting to see.

#2 Brooklyn Nets

Kevin Durant. Kyrie Irving. On the same team. This duo, if they stay healthy, is amongst the toughest to guard ever. The Nets will finally get to see the pair suit up together with Durant coming off of the dreaded Achilles tear. Irving had a tumultuous start with Brooklyn last season with a mix of injuries and mediocre teammate play. Surrounded by DeAndre Jordan, Jarrett Allen, Joe Harris Caris LeVert, and Spencer Dinwiddie, this team is deep and deadly. It may take some time for them to come together as a unit but with two superstars and incredible talent surrounding them, it should be an exciting year for Nets fans.

#1 Miami Heat

The Miami Heat defied the odds and made it all the way to the NBA Finals. Unfortunately for the Heat, injuries to Goran Dragic and Bam Adebayo ended their season without the coveted Larry O’Brien trophy. Coming off of the run they had in Disney World, it is hard to rank anyone in the East above the Heat. Jimmy Butler established himself as a superstar even if the stats don’t show it. Duncan Robinson is amongst the best three-point shooters in the game today and their guard tandem of Dragic and Nunn should be very solid. Tyler Herro showed signs of stardom last season and if he can carry that over into this year, the Heat are set up for a dominant season.

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5 Biggest NBA Draft Busts Since 2010

With the 2020 NBA Draft approaching, it’s always fun to reminisce on some memorable draft day moments. Sure there are the classic moments such as LeBron James taking the stage after getting selected #1 overall. You also have the not-so-memorable moments, like when players aren’t so happy to see who drafted them. Through all the drama and hype, each draft seemingly has its studs and its busts. With that in mind, here are the top five biggest draft busts in recent memory.

#5 Nik Stauskas

Nik Stauskas 101 | Sacramento Kings
Getty Images

One team that has consistenly made the wrong pick over the past decade, is the Sacramento Kings. Stauskas was regarded as the top shooting guard in the 2014 NBA Draft, so it’s easy to see why the Kings saw potential. The discrepansies came where scouts saw Stauskas worthy of being drafted at. Almost all scouts agreed that the shooter was a late-lottery pick. The Kings disagreed and snatched up Stauskas with the eighth overall pick in the draft. The Kings drafted Stauskas over the likes of Zach Lavine and Jusuf Nurkic.

The shooting guard would appear in 73 games as a rookie and by the end of the season was unplayable. He averaged just 4.4 ppg his rookie season and played little defense. Stauskas’s performance was so poor, the Kings decided to cut ties early on, trading him to the 76ers after just one season in California. Since then, Nik has boucned around the NBA and currently plays overseas.

#4 Jabari Parker

Jabari Parker to the Bulls: Why the Bucks shouldn't be blamed for his exit  - SBNation.com
Photo via Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

Sticking with the 2014 NBA Draft, the Bucks had a rough 2013-14 season and were sitting at the second overall pick. With Andrew Wiggins and Jabari Parker seen as the best two players in the draft, the Bucks were hopeful that they would draft a franchise cornerstone. There was major hype around the Duke product around draft time as he was even featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated. After the draft, Parker would even sign a shoe deal with Jordan.

25 games into his rookie season, the former Bluedevil would tear his ACL and miss the remainder of his rookie season. He would play a majority of his games his sophomore season, but still wasn’t living up to expectations. In February of his third season, Parker would tear his left ACL for a second time and need twelve months to recover. He would return almost a year later and play 30 games in his fourth season with Milwaukee.

By the time Parker’s fourth season was over, it was clear his time in Wisconsin was up. The Bucks redacted their offer sheet and let the former #2 overall pick sign a two year 40 million dollar deal with the Bulls. Since then, Parker has struggled and made stops with various NBA teams. He recently exercised his $6 million player option to return to the kings, less money than he made his rookie season, showing exactly how big of a draft bust he was.

#3 Dragan Bender

Report: Ex-Suns 1st-Round Pick Dragan Bender to Sign Contract with CSKA  Moscow | Bleacher Report | Latest News, Videos and Highlights
David Zalubowski/Associated Press

With the fourth overall pick in the 2016 NBA Draft the Phoenix Suns selected the highly regarded top international prospect from Croatia, Dragan Bender. Bender was obviously a top 10 pick so not many people questioned the Suns decision to draft him. Sometimes players from overseas struggle to transition their game to the NBA. That was the case with Bender as he averaged just 3.4 ppg accross 14 minutes per game his rookie season. He did play in all 82 games his sophomore season averaging just 6ppg/4rpg, solidifying what many already thought to be a big mistake by the Suns.

Bender wouldn’t see much action since then, with the Suns declining his fourth year option. He then split time during the 2020 season with the Bucks and the Warriors and was later released prior to the NBA restart. As of September 2020, Bender signed a contract overseas to continue playing basketball, still just 22 years old. He was drafted over Buddy Hield and Jamal Murray, who were selected with the sixth and seventh pick respectively.

#2 Thomas Robinson

Elsa – Getty Images

For the second time on this five person list, we talk about the Sacramento Kings. With the fifth pick in the 2012 NBA Draft, the Kings selected Thomas Robinson, a power forward from Kansas. Each draft has their tear-jerking stories and in 2012 it was Thomas Robinson who had endured the losses of his grandmother, grandfather, and his mother all within a month of each other. Robinson was a projected top 10 pick by many experts, so it was easy to see why the Kings chose him at five.

Throughout his first couple seasons in the NBA Robinson struggled against bigger forwards and centers, becoming a role player. He never averaged more than 5ppg/5rpg throughout his brief NBA career, and hasn’t played in the NBA since 2017.

#1 Anthony Bennett

NBA execs explain how Anthony Bennett and other NBA scouts failed so badly  | Sporting News
Getty Images

Unfortunatley for Anthony Bennett, the Cleveland Cavs selected him with the #1 overall pick in the 2013 NBA Draft. There was no clear cut favorite to be drafted at #1, as this draft lacked talent. Almost immediately, Bennett was regarded as one of the biggest draft busts in NBA history. It took him 33 games to score in double figures.

It’s not necessarily Bennett’s fault as he never should’ve been taken #1 overall. Victor Oladipo was drafted at #2 overall, right behind Bennett. If there was one draft where you didn’t want the first pick, it was 2013. Giannis Antetokounmpo, a now two-time MVP, was drafted at 15 in the same draft, but no one thought of him as a top pick. Bennett is now no longer in the NBA and will forever live in history as a major draft bust.

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5 Guys You Forgot Played for the Boston Celtics

Throughout the years, Boston Celtics GM Danny Ainge has swung many trades. There have been a few instances where he’s acquired someone and they only lasted a handful of games. Not every player sticks a full 82 games on one team’s roster. Let’s take a look at five players that you forgot suited up in the iconic white & green.

Tayshaun Prince

Russ Isabella-USA TODAY Sports

Tayshaun Prince is a very recognizable name. He is a 2003-04 NBA champion and 4x All Defensive Team award winner. Prince lasted 10 full seasons with the Detriot Pistons, before being traded to Memphis in 2012-13. Half-way through the 2014-15 season, the vetern forward was shipped up to Boston in a three team trade. You may not remember the stingy veteran suiting up for the C’s as it was for a meager nine games. Prince was decently effective in those nine games, averaging 8 ppg. Just before that year’s trade deadline, Danny Ainge would send Tayshaun back home to Detriot, in exchange for Celtics icon: Jonas Jerebko.

Jameer Nelson

Brian Windhorst ESPN

Yes, this is the same Jameer Nelson that was an All-Star for Orlando, and yes he played six games for your Boston Celtics in 2014-15. Nelson came to Boston in the trade that sent Rajan Rondo to Dallas. I personally forgot Nelson was even in that trade, as most reports focused on the draft pick acquisition and Jae Crowder (greatest player to wear #99 since Wayne Gretsky). Nelson’s best years were far behind him at the point of this acquisition, and he only stuck for six whole NBA basketball contests, before Danny “the trader” Ainge flipped him for the electric Nate Robinson (who was waived before he could ever re-join his former team). Jameer didn’t do much in those six games with Boston, averaging just over 4 points and 2 assists per contest. Nelson would last three more seasons in the NBA after his very brief stint in Boston.

Troy Murphy

Steve Babineau/NBAE/Getty Images

That’s the best Troy Murphy Celtics pic you’re all gonna get for this blog. Murphy was a solid player who played in 729 National Basketball Association games. Murphy only spent 17 games with the Celtics during the 2010-11 season. At this point, he was 30 years old and didn’t have a ton left in the tank. A former first round draft choice, Murphy had a very solid NBA career, but never carved out much of a role on that loaded 2010-11 roster, after latching on as a veteran buyout.

He did appear in a playoff game during the first round against the New York Knicks that year. You probably don’t remember Murphy as by the time he checked into most of his contests, KG and the boys had already solidified a win. It’s a shame Murphy never found his stroke off the bench as he would’ve made a nice 3 point option. Instead, he played a meager 17 games and then took his talents to LA the next season.

David Lee

David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

If you payed enough attention to the beginning of the 2015-16 Celtics season, you would have seen David Lee start four games, and appear in 30 total for Boston. Many casual Celtics fans may not remember Lee playing for the C’s as his stint did only last 30 games in which he averaged 7 ppg over 16 mpg. Lee came to Boston in a deal that sent Gerald Wallace to the Golden State Warriors.

I liked David Lee a decent amount, and was rather excited that he was brought over to Boston. He was 32 years old at the time, so my expectations weren’t sky high. I was hoping for some production, maybe 10 ppg and 5 rebounds a game, but instead we got 7/3 and then the classic ESPN alert “David Lee has been waived by Boston”. Not every former All-Star can have a memorable stint with Boston.

Joel Anthony

Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

I get it. Some of you might be asking, “who is Joel Anthony“. Well, let me tell you. Joel Anthony is the center that would be auto drafted to your 2k team if you skipped round 12 in 2k13. Anthony arrived in Boston in a three team trade that sent away Jordan Crawford. Anthony enjoyed his time in Boston so much, that he decided to pick up his $3.8 million player option for the 2014-15 season (no one would give him more than that in the open market, shout-out Pat Riley for that gem of an option). Danny Ainge, obviously excited to have Anthony back after he averaged one point per game over 21 games 2013-14, traded Anthony for Wil Bynum soon after.

All jokes aside, Anthony did manage to stick around for 10 seasons in the NBA, and was a decent bench for the Heat during the early part of his career. His stay in Boston consisted of him hanging on the end of the bench for most of the season.

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5 Worst Active MLB Contracts

With everything going on in the current world, it’s easy to forget that there are some MLB teams who probably wish they could take a time machine and un-do these signings. Let’s take a look at five MLB contracts that are not favorable for the team. This isn’t to roast any player for poor performance, because let’s be honest, none of us writing could even touch a 97 mph fastball.

Chris Davis: Baltimore Orioles

Contract Remaining: 3 years $51 million

Image via forbes.com

Yikes. 51 Million over the next 3 years for a guy who hit a combined .172 with 28 HRs over 233 games in the last two seasons (baseball reference). For those of you who may not be baseball fans, that is just horrendous. This is a guy who gets less then 2 hits in every 10 at bats. I genuinely feel bad for Baltimore fans, as they have to watch him attempt to play baseball the next three seasons. Even if they release him they still have to fully pay that money. There is no team that would ever trade for Davis or that contrtact. Part of me feels bad for the guy, as he is a good person, but at the same time, I would love to collect 17 million a year to be the worst employee in my field.

Nathan Eovaldi: Red Sox

Contract remaining: 3 years, $51 million

Photo via espn.com

17 Million a year must be the benchmark for contracts to give sub-mediocre players. Yes, Nate had a good postseason that helped the Red Sox win a World Series. No, that does not mean you back up the Brinks Trucks and unload 4 years and $68 million to a guy who’s had an ERA under 4.00 twice in six seasons. He made 12 regular season apperances with the Sox in 2018, and yes he was pretty good. You just can’t unload that much money to a guy with a shaky track record at best, when you have holes you could’ve filled, with more sure fire options. Last season, the 6’2″ fireballer had an ERA of 5.99 in 23 games.

Nate is a classic Boston Red Sox signing of: does good in the post season for 3 games, let’s give him lot’s of money. If the season is ever played, some people still think Nathan could bounce back; like the guys in my fantasy baseball league who insist on drafting him for more than one dollar in an auction.

Robinson Cano: NY Mets

Contract remaining: 4 years $96 million

Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports

Only the New York Mets would acquire a guy who’s going to be making $24 million at age 40. When this contract was signed, Seattle knew they would get a few good seasons of Cano before he slowed down, and good for them for trading him right before the train derailed. Seattle sent $20 million to the Mets along with Cano in that mega deal, which involved about 200 different players being swapped. The Mets did get Edwin Diaz in the deal, but we all saw how well that went last season (5.59 ERA, 7 blown saves).

The Mets must be banking on the DH being installed into the NL. 40 year old Robbie and his hamstrings probably won’t hold down an infield spot much longer. Sure, he can come off the bench and be a good left handed option against righties, but if that’s what you’re looking for, then go sign Logan Morrison for league minimum.

Miguel Cabrera: Tigers

Contract Remaining: 4 years $124 million, vesting options worth $30 million for 2024 and 2025

Tigers at Orioles 4/28/18

Listen, I love Miggy. He’s one of the best hitters I’ve watched growing up. The contract is a tough one, as Detriot signed him to a deal to get a few great seasons, and whatever happens at the back end of the deal, happens. With how free agency and contracts are going at this stage of baseball, you have to sign a stud to ten years, knowing the last couple years won’t be productive. Four seasons of poor production are worth it, if the player is as dominant as Miggy was during the beginning-middle of the contract.

Detriot does owe him a ginormous amount of money, but who else are they gonna pay? I don’t see Matt Boyd starting game 5 of the fall classic anytime soon, so at this point Miggy sells tickets and jerseys, and could still bounce back. He looked good in spring training and at least he can DH, unlike Robbie over in NY.

Johnny Cueto: SF Giants

Contract remaining: 2 years $42 million

Mlb.com

Johnny Cueto pitched 16 innings last season, 53 innings the year before that, and 147 innings three seasons ago. Yes, after pitching one seasons worth of innings over the last three seasons, Cueto still has two years left at a total of 42 million american dollars. I liked the signing back when it was first reported and obviously you can’t predict injuries. Cueto probably won’t be bouncing back to all-star form anytime soon, which is unfortunate for fans of his unique wind-up.

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