Our NBA Power Rankings for the Eastern Conference are up! The East will be much tougher this 2020-21 season. With teams like the Philadelphia 76ers and Brooklyn Nets improving their rosters, the conference is tougher than ever.
The NBA has instituted a play-in tournament for the second year in a row. Each conference’s seventh and eighth seeds will go head-to-head to determine who will go straight to the playoffs.
Then, the ninth and 10th seeds will face off for the chance to play the loser of the seventh-eighth seed battle. The winner of the matchup will earn the eighth and final playoff spot.
NBA Power Rankings: Predicted outcome of the Eastern Conference race
Which team will end up at the top of the Eastern Conference, and which team will barely scrape through to the playoffs?
In this article, we present to you our NBA Power Rankings for the Eastern Conference in the 2020-21 season.
1. Milwaukee Bucks
2019-20 Season: 56-17, 1st in the East
2020-21 Prediction: 62-10
Armed with a newly re-signed Giannis Antetokounmpo, the Milwaukee Bucks will be the top team in the Eastern Conference for the third year in a row after an offseason that rebuilt the team’s core.
The offseason acquisition of Jrue Holiday at the point gives the Bucks a more steady player running the show in Milwaukee. Torrey Craig and Bobby Portis add depth to the roster, while Khris Middleton continues to support Antetokounmpo as the team’s quiet assassin.
The only question for this Bucks team is about how well they’ll play come playoff time.
2. Miami Heat
2019-20 Season: 44-29, 5th in the East
2020-21 Prediction: 55-17
The Miami Heat overcame the odds last season to become the first fifth seed to reach the NBA Finals. This season, they will be a No. 2 seed with the continued development of first-time All-Star Bam Adebayo as well as the upward progression of sophomore swingman Tyler Herro.
After Antetokounmpo signed an extension with the Bucks, there’s a chance that team president Pat Riley will make a major move before the trade deadline to further bolster the lineup. Could James Harden land in Miami? The Heat will vault to the top of the East's NBA Power Rankings if Riley works his magic again.
3. Boston Celtics
2019-20 Season: 48-24, 3rd in the East
2020-21 Prediction: 53-19
Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are going to be a force to be reckoned with for years to come. This season, they will lead the Celtics to a third-place finish.
Now that Gordon Hayward is no longer with the team, expect Brown to have a big year.
Even though they added veteran forward-center Tristan Thompson, Boston will need Kemba Walker to be more of a facilitator than a scorer. They’ll be in the hunt for an NBA championship and could surprise one of the top two teams in our NBA Power Rankings.
4. Philadelphia 76ers
2019-20 Season: 43-30, 6th in the East
2020-21 Prediction: 52-20
A new coach and a revamped roster will do wonders for any team, especially the Philadelphia 76ers. Coach Doc Rivers will whip Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid into shape and give them an NBA champion’s mentality.
Danny Green and Dwight Howard will give this team championship experience like they never had before. Not to be ignored is Tobias Harris, who was the 76ers’ second-leading scorer last season.
The Sixers will rise and fall on the play of Simmons and Embiid, who are learning the hard way how tough it is to win an NBA title.
5. Brooklyn Nets
2019-20 Season: 35-37, 7th in the East
2020-21 Prediction: 50-22
The Brooklyn Nets will finally be able to show off their 2019 offseason haul of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving together. The NBA 2020-21 preseason showed that Durant hasn’t lost a step from his 2018-19 form.
It will be interesting to see what head coach Steve Nash will do, with Durant and Irving forming a dynamic Batman and Robin duo. You’ll probably see both of them in the top five in the NBA’s scoring ladder with the way the Nets will play offensively.
6. Toronto Raptors
2019-20 Season: 53-19, 2nd in the East
2020-21 Prediction: 48-24
Gone are their top two big men in Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol. This will prove to be problematic for coach Nick Nurse, who replaced them with Aron Baynes and Alex Len.
All-Star Pascal Siakam will be even better this season, as will Fred VanVleet. The Raptors will once again be competitive and be among the top NBA teams this season.
But their lack of star players will keep them from going higher than sixth in the East's NBA Power Rankings.
7. Indiana Pacers
2019-20 Season: 45-28, 4th in the East
2020-21 Prediction: 44-28
The Indiana Pacers boast a solid starting five that includes Victor Oladipo, Malcolm Brogdon, TJ Warren, Domantas Sabonis, and Myles Turner. They’ll be one of the NBA's hardest-working teams in the East as usual.
But the Pacers simply aren’t good enough to keep up with the improvement of the other ballclubs in the East, and will have to be content with a seventh-place finish.
8. Washington Wizards
2019-20 Season: 25-47, 9th in the East
2020-21 Prediction: 40-32
Russell Westbrook is a big improvement over John Wall for the Washington Wizards.
Westbrook’s partnership with Bradley Beal will determine how far this Wizards team will go. A 15-win improvement is the best prognosis for this team that has a huge upside.
Westbrook and Beal will be ably supported by Davis Bertans, Rui Hachimura, Thomas Bryant, and promising rookie Deni Avdija.
Published 20 Dec 2020, 18:05 IST