The Cleveland Cavaliers have won the East three years in a row now, and in rather dominant fashion. Even more impressively, LeBron James has won the East for seven straight years now. So far, he has shown no signs of slowing down but at 32, someone has to beat him at some point.
Now the East may be weaker more now, than ever before. That being said, there are some young teams on the rise that could potentially knock him off.
The Celtics are the team best suited to knock off the Cavs now. They secured the number 1 seed in the conference last year, and took Cleveland to 5 games in the Conference Finals. Now, they have added Gordon Hayward and Marcus Morris, along with drafting Jason Taytum. These were great moves, but they gave up Avery Bradley – their best defender – to the Pistons. There’s also a possibility of them losing either Jae Crowder or Marcus Smart as well.
If they can keep those two guys, they’re probably better than last year and can give the Cavs more of a challenge, but it ultimately won’t be enough.
The Wizards seem second most likely at this stage, having taken Boston to 7 games in the conference semi finals last year.
They have John Wall, who is possibly the second best player in the East behind LeBron. Bradley Beal is also getting better and him and Wall are arguably the best backcourt in basketball.
If the Wizards can bolster their bench a bit, that would put them on a similar level to Boston.
Now, the Bucks are a few years away, but they have Giannis. Giannis is like LeBron in a lot of ways, and as James ages, Antetoknoupo could take his place as king of the east.
Jabari Parker – provided he recovers from his second ACL tear – is an ideal second star paired next to the Greek Freak. They have Kris Middleton as the third option. This guy is kind of like a Rip Hamilton type player. A pretty efficient shooter/scorer.
A lot of the Bucks’ future also rests on the shoulders of Thon Maker. Maker has shown some insane potential but is very much a project. If he can live up to his full pottential, then the sky is the limit for this team.
The last team on this list is the 76ers. They are probably the furthest away right now, but they also probably have the best chance to become not only kings of the east, but kings of the entire NBA.
Their trio of Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid all have the potential to be transcendent, franchise players. To have all three of them is just borderline unfair.
The one question mark is health. Fultz and Simmons haven’t played yet and Embiid has only appeared in 31 total games. Each one of them will be able to lessen the load put on the other two, thus decreasing the chance of injury.
It’s not crazy to see them as a potential dynasty if these guys can stay healthy.