Monday, September 24, 2007

Life After Death -- Is The East Back?

Driving home from school today, I began to think about LeBron James and the Cavaliers. (Platonically, I swear.) I thought about their improbable run to the first Finals appearance in team history, LeBron's beastly classic Game 5 against the Pistons, and what they needed to do to get back to the Finals.

Then, almost like a rapid gust of wind, I came to my senses. The Cavs aren't coming anywhere close to the NBA Finals. Not even on NBA Live.

Ever since Michael Jordan's second retirement in 1998, the Eastern Conference has seen a fall from grace better reserved for a Britney Spears. (In fact, it could probably be argued that the Eastern Conference is the Britney Spears of the NBA. Dominant for a stretch, took some time off, and now is making a bunch of headlines about a comeback to greatness but has yet to prove it should even be noticed.)

Anyway, with Boston's resurgence back to relevance and the moves made by the cellar-dwelling Knicks (along with the possible Jermaine O'Neal-to-New Jersey trade looming), the Leastern Conference is making a push back to actually matter this season.

Best Offseason Moves:
Kevin Garnett (Celtics)- When you acquire a player that is a annual lock to start in the All-Star Game, a former MVP, future Hall-of-Famer, perennially amongst the league's leaders in rebounds, and one of the most talented creatures God has ever created, you just might have made the best offseason move this side of Shaq in '96.

Jason Richardson (Bobcats) - Suprisingly, I'm going to go with the trade MJ made to bring J-Rich to the Queen City. Richardson's presence in Charlotte will, in my opinion, push the Bobcats to the 8 or 9 seed in the East, a big move for a franchise that has only been playing four years. Add him with Raymond Felton, Gerald Wallace, Emeka Okafor, Primo Brezec, Sean May, Matt Carroll, and Adam Morrison and you have an exciting team and potential playoff sleeper. (Wait, you mean if you draft players who excelled in college and put them around other players that excelled in college and then traded for a young, veteran proven scorer, they'll be good? Why haven't more teams tried this? Oh yeah, they're idiots.)

Zach Randolph (Knicks) - Although I've gave my reasons why this acquisition might cause some problems, but there's no way a guy who averaged 23 and 10 won't improve a 33-win team.

Rashard Lewis (Magic) - In the long term, the signing of Lewis ($110 million over six years) will kill Orlando's cap for years to come, forcing them to live off mid-first round draft picks and little to no depth. For the next two years however, 'Shard gives the Magic a go-to perimeter option who could potentially get them a much higher seed in the East.

Ray Allen (Celtics) - I was going to go with Penny Hardaway here, but I haven't drank since yesterday. Jesus Shuttlesworth, along with KG and Pierce, will establish the C's as possibly the class of the East, with Allen resuming his role as one of the league's most potent shooters and even some point guard duties.

The proposed Mike Bibby-to-Cleveland deal could vault the Cavs back to the list of top 2 teams in the East, but most likely, it'll be LeBron and a bunch of D-Leaguers scrapping their way through the season and relying on King James in May.

It's a shame, too. He's thisclose from taking over the NBA.


Ben Q. Rock said...

The East is certainly improved, but each of the West's top four (Texas Triangle of Death + Phoenix) is capable of beating the East's best (Chicago? Boston? Detroit?) in a seven-game series. If anything, the talent migration just makes competition for All-Star roster spots that much more heated. The playoff races should be tighter too, but will it really matter if the West emerges victorious, as it likely will?

Trey Jones said...

They're not going to be dominating the West by no stretch of the imagination for at least a few more years, but it seems like a lot of teams are at least on the path to becoming contenders.

Don said...

I think the East is back. It still cannot compete with certain WC teams (San Antonio mainly), but for the most part, like Ben stated, it should improve the EC playoffs. After what we had to watch last year, I guess the league came to the conclusion that hoop fans deserve better.