NBA team-by-team guide: Eastern Conference

Jay Asser 21:05 28/10/2014
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Prepare for lift-off: Cleveland have the world's best player in LeBron James.

With the new NBA season upon us we have the lowdown on each and every team aiming to compete for honours in the Eastern Conference.

From the key ins and outs over the course of the summer to our predictions for this year's NBA, we have you covered.

Boston Celtics

Coach: Brad Stevens

2013 record: 25-57
Star man: Rajon Rondo
Young player to watch: Marcus Smart
Key Ins: Evan Turner, Marcus Thornton, Tyler Zeller, Marcus Smart, James Young 
Key Outs: Jerryd Bayless, Kris Humphries
Strengths: Perimeter defence will be tenacious.
Weaknesses: Consistent scoring.
Verdict: The season will revolve around Rajon Rondo and he’s good enough to lift the young players to not finish at the bottom of the East.

Brooklyn Nets

Coach: Lionel Hollins
2013 record: 44-38
Star man: Joe Johnson
Young player to watch: Mason Plumlee
Key Ins: Jarrett Jack, Bojan Bogdanovic
Key Outs: Shaun Livingston, Paul Pierce, Marquis Teague, Marcus Thornton
Strengths: Proven veteran talent.
Weaknesses: Age and health over the course of the season.
Verdict: The Nets just keep getting older and older and will be fortunate to finish closer to their record last year.

New York Knicks

Coach: Derek Fisher
2013 record: 37-45
Star man: Carmelo Anthony
Young player to watch: Iman Shumpert
Key Ins: Jason Smith, Jose Calderon, Samuel Dalembert, Shane Larkin, Travis Outlaw, Cleanthony Early
Key Outs: Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton
Strengths: Scoring firepower.
Weaknesses: Cohesion and ball movement.
Verdict: The triangle offence will either work or be a disaster but they should return to the playoffs

Philadelphia 76ers

Coach: Brett Brown
2013 record: 19-63
Star man: Michael Carter-Williams
Young player to watch: Nerlens Noel 
Key Ins: Luc Mbah A Moute, Alexey Shved, Marquis Teague, Joel Embiid, Jerami Grant, KJ McDaniels
Key Outs: Thaddeus Young
Strengths: Young core can develop together.
Weaknesses: Not enough NBA quality talent on the roster. 
Verdict: They’re aiming to be the worst team in the league and won’t have a hard time accomplishing that. 

Toronto Raptors

Coach: Dwane Casey
2013 record: 48-34
Star man: Kyle Lowry
Young player to watch: Bruno Caboclo
Key Ins: Lou Williams, Jordan Hamilton, Bruno Caboclo
Key Outs: Steve Novak, John Salmons Strengths: Possess depth with deep bench.
Weaknesses: Lacking size and defence on the wings.
Verdict: No longer up-and-comers, they now have expectations of being a top-four team in the East and should make good on that.

Chicago Bulls

Coach: Tom Thibodeau
2013 record: 48-34
Star man: Derrick Rose
Young player to watch: Doug McDermott
Key Ins: Nikola Mirotic, Pau Gasol, Doug McDermott
Key Outs: DJ Augustin, Carlos Boozer
Strengths: Well coached and stout defensively.
Weaknesses: Offence has always been their issue.
Verdict: It’s all about whether or not Derrick Rose can regain his preinjury form, but just having him for a full season would be a welcomed success.

Cleveland Cavaliers 

Coach: David Blatt
2013 record: 33-49
Star man: LeBron James 
Young player to watch: Kyrie Irving
Key Ins: LeBron James, Kevin Love, Mike Miller, Shawn Marion
Key Outs: Luol Deng, Spencer Hawes, CJ Miles, Anthony Bennett, Tyler Zeller
Strengths: Three-headed monster led by the league’s best player.
Weaknesses: On-court chemistry.
Verdict: Ultimately, Love and Irving will decide James’ fate and they both have a lot to prove, even with the team rightly labelled as favourites.

Detroit Pistons

Coach: Stan Van Gundy
2013 record: 29-53
Star man: Andre Drummond
Young player to watch: Spencer Dinwiddie
Key Ins: DJ Augustin, Caron Butler, Jodie Meeks, Spencer Dinwiddie
Key Outs: Rodney Stuckey, Charlie Villanueva
Strengths: Size and rebounding.
Weaknesses: Perimeter shooting and floor spacing.
Verdict: Van Gundy will work his magic and the offence will be better, but their individuals' talents simply don't mesh well. 

Indiana Pacers

Coach: Frank Vogel
2013 record: 52-26
Star man: Paul George
Young player to watch: Solomon Hill
Key Ins: CJ Miles, Damjan Rudez, Rodney Stuckey
Key Outs: Lance Stephenson, Evan Turner
Strengths: Defensively sound.
Weaknesses: Offence was already lacking with George so the struggles will only continue.
Verdict: George's injury leaves Roy Hibbert in the unfavourable position of shouldering the load and a rebuild should be the move.

Milwaukee Bucks

Coach: Jason Kidd
2013 record: 15-67
Star man: Brandon Knight
Young player to watch: Giannis Antetokounmpo
Key Ins: Jerryd Bayless, Kendall Marshall, Jared Dudley, Jabari Parker
Key Outs: Carlos Delfino, Ramon Sessions, Ekpe Udoh
Strengths: Young players will be nothing if not exciting.
Weaknesses: Built for the long term so immediate success isn't coming.
Verdict: After having the worst record last year, the Bucks' future looks encouraging.

Atlanta Hawks 

Coach: Mike Budenholzer
2013 record: 38-44
Star man: Al Horford
Young player to watch: Dennis Schroder
Key Ins: Kent Bazemore, Adreian Payne, Thabo Sefolosha
Key Outs: Gustavo Ayon, Lou Williams
Strengths: Horford’s return from injury is a major boost and they stretch the floor as good as any team.
Weaknesses: Still without the big-time star they've tried so hard to land.
Verdict: Always middling and another early playoff exit looms.

Washington Wizards

Coach: Randy Wittman
2013 record: 44-38
Star man: John Wall
Young player to watch: Otto Porter
Key Ins: Paul Pierce, DeJuan Blair, Kris Humphries
Key Outs: Trevor Ariza, Trevor Booker
Strengths: Wall and Bradley Beal form one of the best backcourts in the league.
Weaknesses: Injury and age question marks plague frontcourt.
Verdict: Retained most of their core and Pierce will fit in perfectly, but it’s hard to imagine a ceiling higher than a berth in the conference finals.

Orlando Magic

Coach: Jacque Vaughn
2013 record: 23-59
Star man: Victor Oladipo
Young player to watch: Elfrid Payton
Key Ins: Channing Frye, Ben Gordon, Aaron Gordon, Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier
Key Outs: Arron Afflalo, Jameer Nelson
Strengths: Young core will grow together and show flashes.
Weaknesses: Too young and undeveloped to make a mark right now.
Verdict: Have to take the next step out of constant rebuilding at some point, but it won’t be this year.

Miami Heat

Coach: Erik Spoelstra
2013 record: 54-28
Star man: Dwyane Wade
Young player to watch: Shabazz Napier
Key Ins: Luol Deng, Danny Granger, Josh McRoberts, Shabazz Napier
Key Outs: LeBron James, Rashard Lewis
Strengths: Still pack a punch with Chris Bosh and (a healthy) Wade.
Weaknesses: Were the worst rebounding team last year.
Verdict: For the first time in years, Miami doesn't have to deal with the title-or-bust expectations.

Charlotte Hornets

Coach: Steve Clifford
2013 record: 43-39
Star man: Al Jefferson
Young player to watch: Noah Vonleh
Key Ins: Lance Stephenson, Marvin Williams, Noah Vonleh, PJ Hairston
Key Outs: Ben Gordon, Josh McRoberts, Luke Ridnour, Chris DouglasRoberts
Strengths: Solid on defence and turnover averse.
Weaknesses: Limited offensively on the wings.
Verdict: Surprised last season and could take another step forward with an improved roster. 

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