The 2019-20 NBA season doesn’t begin for three months but, with most of the offseason action in the rear view mirror, many are taking the opportunity to look ahead with some way-too-early predicted standings. For the most part, everyone agrees that the Western Conference will be a battle royale for the ages and, in the Eastern Conference, a consensus top two has emerged.
With respect to the rest of the conference, the Milwaukee Bucks and Philadelphia 76ers are widely projected to occupy a different tier. With that in mind, it’s interesting to peg the other teams that might garner home-court advantage in the first round of the 2020 Playoffs.
To that end, we’ll take a glance at the “other” teams in the Eastern Conference with a realistic chance to crash the top-four party, all while acknowledging that things could even come together for one or two of them to unseat the incumbent favorites.
While this list is in alphabetical order, it wouldn’t be difficult to make the case for Boston at No. 3 in the East right now. The team’s biggest loss probably isn’t Kyrie Irving, as Kemba Walker should fill his shoes adequately without adding to the toxic environment that apparently existed last season. The most significant defection, though, is Al Horford, and the Celtics weren’t really able to replace the veteran big man.
Could Enes Kanter play a role? Absolutely. Could rookies like Grant Williams and Carsen Edwards provide value immediately? Sure. With that said, the biggest question with the Celtics is probably what the forward trio of Gordon Hayward, Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will do and their performance could dictate Boston’s ceiling. Ultimately, this is going to be a good basketball team, but upside questions are warranted until we see the pieces come together.