We know the teams that are battling for the top of the Eastern Conference. It’s the usual suspects — the Bucks, Celtics, Heat, 76ers and perhaps Cavaliers.
But what about those who are entering the season with little hope?
Well, according to John Hollinger of The Athletic, no less than the Wizards and Pistons will be tops when it comes to ruling the bottom.
Let’s start with the Wizards. After all, that is who Hollinger ranks to finish dead last in the East. That may not be a big surprise. New head of basketball operations Michael Winger, GM Will Dawkins and coach Wes Unseld Jr. have all admitted that this will take time. Washington did, after all, trade away Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis.
That leaves the likes of Kyle Kuzma, Jordan Poole, Tyus Jones and maybe rookie Bilal Coulibaly to shoulder things. Not bad, but probably not a team that wins a whole lot. Aside from Kuzma, the Wizards’ roster is made up of guys who would be really nice off the bench. Problem is, some have to start.
“On the court, the most interesting dynamic will be Poole and Kuzma as leading men,” Hollinger wrote. “Renowned as two of the league’s thirstiest players, this has the potential to devolve into some serious your-turn, my-turn ugliness. The presence of two real point guards in Jones and (Delon Wright) will hopefully mitigate that to some extent, but it’s something to watch.”
Meanwhile, the Pistons have some high hopes after adding celebrated coach Monty Williams, who took the Suns to the Finals two years ago.
But the roster remains incredibly young and a work in progress. Cade Cunningham, Bojan Bogdanovic, Jaden Ivey and others offer reasons to watch — but young teams don’t get to the playoffs, regardless of who’s coaching.
“If there’s a silver lining here, I expect the Pistons to be a watchable bad team, because of all the youthful athleticism on the roster,” Hollinger wrote. “There’s still the chance of turning this around in two or three years, and there definitely will be some cool dunks regardless.”
With all that in mind, you could make the case that the Pistons may be even worse than the Wizards this season.
Others projected not to fare all that well in Hollinger’s East Bottom Eight piece: The Magic, Bulls, Hornets and Pacers.