It’s time for a post-trade deadline Eastern Conference power rankings. Let’s get right into it:
1. Bucks (41-13) Last week: 1
The Bucks still have the best record in the East and made a big move before the deadline, adding Nikola Mirotic. They’re at the top until results suggest otherwise.
2. Sixers (35-20) Last week: 4
We got a glimpse last night of how “scary” good this new Sixers team can be. Tobias Harris is the rare 20-point scorer who doesn’t need to see a ton of the ball to thrive, and all five players the Sixers added are average or better defenders. It might take time for all the pieces to work in perfect harmony, but the Sixers have a big, versatile team that can adapt to just about any opponent.
3. Raptors (40-16) Last week: 2
There’s a very strong case for having the Raptors at No. 2. Perhaps the best reason to do so would be that Toronto still matches up well against the Sixers. Their pre-deadline win Tuesday in Philadelphia, despite 37 points from Joel Embiid, was convincing. Yet the Sixers improved more through their trades than the Raptors did through their acquistion of Marc Gasol. Though Gasol is a quality addition, Jonas Valanciunas, Delon Wright and C.J. Miles is not an insignificant trio to give up.
4. Celtics (35-20) Last week: 4
Anthony Davis isn’t a Laker, which is good news for the Celtics. But Boston didn’t do anything to upgrade their roster for this season at the deadline. The prospect of facing Kyrie Irving, Jayson Tatum and company in the playoffs is still daunting, though. Marcus Smart having by far the best three-point shooting season of his career (37.1 percent) helps make up for Gordon Hayward’s struggles.
5. Nets (29-28) Last week: 5
It’ll be fascinating to watch how the Nets re-integrate Caris LeVert, who is somehow already back on the court after dislocating his foot in November. Though his first game back didn’t go very well, a 19-point loss to the Bulls on Friday, Brooklyn doesn’t look like an opponent you’d want to draw in the first round of the playoffs.
6. Pacers (36-19) Last week: 8
Wesley Matthews is a nice pickup for the Pacers, who have won four straight. But they’re still not going to win the East without Victor Oladipo.
7. Hornets (26-28) Last week: 7
Charlotte didn’t get any help for Kemba Walker before the deadline, which general manager Mitch Kupchak understandably found disappointing.
8. Heat (25-28) Last week: 8
The newest member of the Heat, Ryan Anderson, is probably not going to be the difference in a seven-game series against one of the elite teams in the East.
9. Wizards (23-32) Last week: 10
Welcome to Washington, Bobby Portis, Jabari Parker and Wesley Johnson. Goodbye, Markieff Morris and Otto Porter Jr. The Wizards are free from Porter’s massive contract, which is nice for them, but the long-term future of the Wizards isn’t looking too great after John Wall ruptured his Achilles tendon.
10. Pistons (25-29) Last week: 9
The Pistons added Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk and Thon Maker, giving up Reggie Bullock and Stanley Johnson. Detroit is also reportedly going to sign Wayne Ellington and waive Henry Ellenson. All reasonable moves with the future in mind, but certainly not trades that put the Pistons anywhere close to contention conversation.
11. Magic (21-31) Last week: 11
The Markelle Fultz era begins in Orlando.
12. Hawks (18-36) Last week: 12
Atlanta remains the “best” of the bottom four teams. That could change if Dewayne Dedmon, Jeremy Lin or Vince Carter are bought out.
13. Bulls (13-42) Last week: 13
Lauri Markkanen, Zach LaVine and Porter Jr. combined for 75 points in Friday’s win over Brooklyn. When you add the injured Wendell Carter Jr. to that group, Chicago might have an interesting young core to build around.
14. Cavs (11-44) Last week: 14
It’s not official yet, but it doesn’t look like Cleveland is going to repeat as Eastern Conference champions.
15. Knicks (10-44) Last week: 15
The Knicks better nail it this summer.
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