For the first time in almost a decade, LeBron James will not be an Eastern Conference champion.
James’s move to the West to join the Lakers means that it’s certainly not a guarantee he’ll be a Western Conference champion either. DeMarcus Cousins taking just $5 million to join the Warriors is the only reminder needed to remember who runs the West.
Here’s how free agency and the NBA Draft has shifted the NBA landscape.
1. Golden State Warriors
The Warriors showed no signs of slowing down, winning back-to-back championships and third in four years. As if anyone was going to stop the Warriors before, they’ve upgraded at the center position signing all-star center DeMarcus Cousins to a one-year contract. The Dubs are going to take their time easing the injured Cousins into the lineup, but if he’s 70 percent healthy by playoffs time they’re going to be a hard team to beat.
2. Houston Rockets
The Rockets were a Chris Paul injury and a cold shooting night away from knocking off the Warriors for a Finals appearance. Paul is back, James Harden is coming off an MVP season and if the Rockets can lock up center Clint Capela there’s no reason they can’t threaten the Warriors again.
3. Boston Celtics
In a post-LeBron East, it looks like it’s the Celtics’ conference to lose. The C’s took LeBron’s Cavs to a Game 7 without Kyrie Irving or Gordon Hayward. Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier get another year to develop and the C’s added a big man through the draft in Robert Williams III. Las Vegas currently has the Celtics as the overwhelming favorites to win the East at 5/8.
4. Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers are another team that benefits from LeBron’s departure from the East. Rookie of the Year Ben Simmons has another year to develop, maybe even a three-point shot. Markelle Fultz gets more time to redevelop the jump shot that earned him the first-overall draft pick, and of course, Joel Embiid will continue to be one of the best centers in the league. Bringing back JJ Reddick on a one-year contract adds much-needed shooting.
5. Oklahoma City Thunder
The Thunder accomplished their goal and locked down Paul George to a four-year contract. Carmelo Anthony and the Thunder will be parting ways this summer, which might be addition by subtraction. Anthony averaged 16.2 points per game (a career-low) while shooting just 40.4 percent from the field. He took 15 shots a night for the Thunder, so less wasted possessions will be a good thing Russell Westbrook, Paul George and OKC.
Full article @ NBA Power Rankings: How do Celtics compare to rest of NBA following free agency?
Source: GreenStreet Blog