A new season is just underway. The season is brand new and the games have just begun. Some teams look poised for another run at the championship, some are just hoping to make the playoffs, and others are in a rebuilding situation just hoping to improve from the previous year. Let’s take a look at each division and I’ll let you know my early season division winners. We’ll start with the Eastern Conference.
The first division we will visit is the Atlantic Division. A few years ago, this would have been an easy choice for me, but now it is a three team race. Philadelphia, Boston, and Toronto all look like strong choices and potential winners for this division. Since there can only be one though, I am going with Boston. I like Boston because they have complete team from coach all the way down to the last roster spot. They don’t really lack in any area. This team has been to the playoffs. They also are getting Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving back. Last year they were close without these two, and this year I think they’ll be even better. As for Toronto, I like the addition of Kawhi Leonard and I know they have the best record for now, but they still have some work to do. Even with Kyle Lowry and Leonard together, this team still needs to find another complementary player or so to take this division. In Philadelphia, I like the fact that they are young and scrappy. They went to the playoffs last year and gained some valuable learning time. Now with the addition of Jimmy Butler, they have become even more dangerous. However, I just think that teams like Boston and Golden State have gone deep every year and more frequently with a due to their more complete team.
Next stop, the Central Division. The landscape of this division changed drastically. LeBron is not in the division (or even conference) any more. Jabari Parker went to a new team. The list goes on. I see a pretty clear winner in this division, even with all the changes that have taken place. I think the Milwaukee Bucks are going to secure this division. With teams like Chicago and Detroit still in a rebuild and trying to add talent and find a rhythm, they are going to need time to develop. Cleveland lost LeBron and now have to redefine themselves. LeBron led this team to the Finals last year, now they have to find out what they are made of on their own. I think that Indiana does have the best chance to challenge Milwaukee, but Milwaukee has a certain player, Giannis Antetokounmpo, who seems able to do it all. And you say what about Victor Oladipo? Like I said Indiana comes close, but Antetokounmpo is still a better player and his team has more pieces around him. With players around him like Khris Middleton and Eric Bledso, this team is set up for a bigger run than people think currently, and I think they will be able to turn more than a few heads soon enough.
The last stop on this trip is the Southeast Division. This one gets a little harder, but I think the Washington Wizards will win out in this division. With Atlanta once again in a rebuild and Orlando putting it all together, these teams have a few problems to work out before winning the division. Charlotte has a good team, but they always seem to come up short. It is hard for Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum to lead this team all by themselves, they need to attract another player or two while they are both in their prime. I think Miami could be close, but Dwyane Wade is not young anymore and can’t carry this team on his back. It will take players like Dion Waiters, Josh Richardson, and Hassan Whiteside giving it their all every night and playing cohesive, team basketball for this group to close the gap. Like I said, I think Washington has the edge. With John Wall and Bradley Beal, this team has a strong duo of shooters as well as players who can defend. Add in Otto Porter Jr. to that mix and now you have a third option. Not to mention he has really turned up his game the past few years. Finally, the addition of Dwight Howard will impact this team as well. He may not be the youngest anymore, but he can still anchor the defense of this team as well as put up points. I think his addition makes a big difference on this team, and with the players that were already here, this team is looking up.