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Brook Lopez believes Bucks can win East

Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns

PHOENIX, AZ - NOVEMBER 13: Brook Lopez #11 of the Los Angeles Lakers during the NBA game against the Phoenix Suns at Talking Stick Resort Arena on November 13, 2017 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Lakers defeated the Suns 100-93. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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LeBron James has gone West, and suddenly everybody thinks they can win the East. John Wall believes the Wizards can be in the elite mix with Boston, Philadelphia, and Toronto.

Brook Lopez thinks the same thing about his new team, the Milwaukee Bucks. He told Alex Kennedy of Hoopshype Milwaukee’s players are confident they can be right there at the top of the East.

Absolutely, we feel like that. We definitely think the East is wide open. It’s going to be such a fun, exciting time in the East and it’s going to be super competitive. There are a lot of teams that can do [big] things, from Toronto to Boston to Philly – you just go down the list and it’s clear that the East is as exciting as it’s been in a long time. I think we’re very confident that we can, no question, win the East.

Lopez isn’t wrong. And not just in the “you want a player to talk confidently before the season” kind of way.

The Bucks could be a legit darkhorse and threat in the East. Of course, they have Giannis Antetokounmpo, who keeps making strides with his game and could again be a top-five MVP level player. They have quality players around him such as Eric Bledsoe and Khris Middleton. What they lacked was shooting and a better defensive plan. Lopez and Ersan Ilyasova were added to provide shooting, plus coach Mike Budenholzer will unleash every one of the roster to shoot threes and space the floor. He’s also a very good defensive coach.

The top three in the East looks pretty set — Boston is the team to beat, but Toronto gets an upgrade if Kawhi Leonard is his MVP-level self, and the young Sixers should be improved — but the Bucks are the one team in the conference with the potential to crack that group.

Which is to say, Lopez may be right.