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Top 5 teams in the East: Finding the right spot for the Wizards

Top 5 teams in the East: Finding the right spot for the Wizards

The 2017-18 NBA schedule was released on Monday and with Eastern Conference odds being released on Tuesday, it's now time to project where teams will finish and rank the best teams in the East.

After falling one game short of the Eastern Conference Finals, the Wizards are determined to break through and solidify themselves as one of the top two teams in the East.

The offseason contract extensions of Otto Porter and John Wall have only strengthened the team's bond and desire to bring a championship back to Washington, D.C.

But as the regular season approaches, where do the Wizards rank among the top teams in the East? On Tuesday, CSN's Rob Carlin and Chris Miller ranked their list of the top five teams in the east.

RELATED: TEN "CAN'T MISS" GAMES ON THE WIZARDS SCHEDULE

Here's what they both went with as of Aug. 15. You can watch their analysis in the video player above.

Rob Carlin's Top 5 Teams in the East:
5. 76ers
4. Wizards
3. Bucks
2. Celtics
1. Cavaliers

Chris Miller's Top 5 Teams in the East:
5. Bucks
4. Raptors
3. Cavaliers
2. Celtics
1. Wizards

RELATED: WIZARDS' 2017-18 SCHEDULE BY THE NUMBERS

It's easy to look at the 76ers roster and think this team is the future. The 76ers just might be "the future," but the team's "Big 3" of Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz and Ben Simmons have played exactly zero games together and injury concerns have already stunted the growth of both Simmons and Embiid. 

That's why the Toronto Raptors, with DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, should be in the No. 5 spot here.

Speaking of "teams of the future," the Milwaukee Bucks are the closest thing the NBA has to "The MonStars." Giannis Antetokounmpo is a fringe MVP candidate and the team has at least seven players with a wingspan of at least seven feet. But You need superstar players to carry a team, and Antetokounmpo is close, but not there yet. The Bucks should be in the No 4 spot here.

It's great to think that the Washington Wizards will be the No. 1 team in the Eastern Conference. It's what every basketball fan in Washington, D.C. is hoping for. But until LeBron James has been unseated, it's hard — nearly impossible — to put any team above the Cavaliers. Perhaps a healthy Ian Mahinmi will make a big difference up front, a place the team needs help. But that is a big question mark. The bench is big question mark too. The team's "Big 3" of Wall, Porter and Bradley Beal can only do so much. The Wizards are going to be good — really good, hopefully — but as of now, it's hard to put them above the No. 3 spot

The Wizards came up just short of the Eastern Conference Finals, falling to the Boston Celtics in seven games. The Celtics got a bit better this offseason,a dding all-star forward Gordon Hayward. Brad Stevens is widely considered one of the best coaches in the entire NBA, and if Isiah Thomas returns to form following a playoff hip injury, the Celtics should be locked in to the No. 2 spot in the East, which both Chris Miller and Rob Carlin agree with here.

Who knows if Kyrie Irving will be with the Cleveland Cavaliers by the time the playoffs roll around. And while LeBron James may not be in a Cavs uniform in 2018, he's going to be in uniform this season. And until a team is able to unseat the Cavaliers — the back-to-back-to-back Eastern Conference champions — you just have to put LeBron & co. in the No. 1 spot.

But that's whats fun about August. It's the silly season. It's all speculation. The Wizards very well could be the best team in the East. They brought the band back together and are trending in the right direction. There's no reason to believe they can't finish in the top two spots and potentially be the best team in the East.

By the time the new year gets here and the playoffs come into focus, we will finally know who is right and who is wrong.

But for now, speculation sure is fun. 

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Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

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USA Today Sports Images

Celtics and Sixers may go relatively unchanged this offseason, as stars have gone elsewhere

The 2018 NBA offseason in just three weeks has become one of the wildest summers in the league's history between LeBron James signing with the Lakers, and all the characters that followed him, to DeMarcus Cousins surprising everyone to sign with the Golden State Warriors, to Kawhi Leonard getting traded to the Raptors.

As crazy as it all has been, two teams in the Eastern Conference stand out for so far doing very little, either by choice or circumstance. The Celtics and Sixers, the two teams most see as the favorites in the East, appear at least so far to be running it back with the same group of players.

This appears to be the Celtics' intention. After overhauling their roster last summer, they clearly see an opportunity to take a step forward as-is. Boston was one win away from the NBA Finals and will return Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving from injury. With James gone to the West, they can improve significanly just by keeping it all together.

Boston re-signed Marcus Smart and Aron Baynes. Their biggest addition this summer so far has been their first round pick, Robert Williams.

The Sixers, unlike the Celtics, didn't appear to plan on doing it this way. They wanted James and missed out. They reportedly had interest in Paul George and Kawhi Leonard, but both went elsewhere. There are no stars left to sign in free agency and the trade market may be drying up.

Philly made some minor moves like trades for Wilson Chandler and Mike Muscala. They may also have a deal for Kyle Korver in the works. They also had two first round picks in Zhaire Smith and Landry Shamet.

There's a chance the Sixers got better than people think, as many of the moves they made seem smart. But they didn't reel in a big fish and will probably come back for the 2018-19 season with a team very similar to the one that made the second round of the playoffs this spring.

The fact the Celtics and Sixers may stand pat is probably a good thing for the rest of the East. Both teams may improve naturally if they are healthier and if their young players continue to ascend. But neither made a game-changing addition, one that would solidify either as an unstoppable superteam in the conference. 

The West is overloaded with title contenders and All-NBA players. The East, meanwhile, is much more open and it may end up staying that way mainly because Boston and Philly have been quiet so far this summer.

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Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards set introductory press conference for Dwight Howard

Wizards team president Ernie Grunfeld has stayed relatively busy this summer crafting his new-look lineup for the 2018-19 season. 

One of the team's key additions, Dwight Howard, is set to be introduced as a member of the Wizards on Monday. 

NBC Sports Washington will air the introductory press conference live at 1 p.m. while also streaming it online.  

Ernie Grunfeld and head coach Scott Brooks are both expected to be in attendance. 

The 32-year-old big man is coming off a 2017-18 season with the Charlotte Hornets in which he averaged 16.6 points and 12.5 rebounds per game. 

Since leaving the Orlando Magic after eight seasons in 2011, Howard has played for four different teams in the last six years. 

Howard is an eight-time all-star and a three-time defensive player of the year. 

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