Championship Contenders: Eastern Conference

2023 Eastern Conference Championship Contenders
Photo Credit: Halftime Productions

As we slowly creep closer and closer to the 2022-23 NBA season, excitement is beginning to build around the league. The new year brings new hope and possibility for franchises all around the league, especially for these Eastern Conference championship contenders

For some teams, the new year presents another chance at chasing the illustrious goal of an NBA title. For others, it involves hope as their franchises hope to finally turn the corner. In this article, we will take a look at the Eastern Conference, and take a look at which teams have the best chance to be contenders for an NBA Championship.

Eastern Conference Championship Contenders

Tier 1: True Eastern Conference Championship Contenders

Celtics, Bucks, Heat

These three teams all have the best chance to come out of the Eastern Conference, and it’s far enough to clearly separate them from the rest of the conference.

First, we have the Boston Celtics. The Celtics are clearly capable of being in this category, with them being the team to come out of the Eastern Conference last year. They didn’t lose any major pieces, and were even able to add Malcolm Brogdon to the fold this offseason. They should enter as the favorites to come out of this conference.

The Milwaukee Bucks and Miami Heat should be considered the same. Neither team lost a key player, and both have been actively looking to add talent this offseason, albeit unsuccessfully — for now.

The Bucks nearly knocked the Celtics off last year without Khris Middleton. The Heat, on the other hand, were a missed-three-pointer from Jimmy Butler away from making the Finals last year. Both teams should be considered favorites.

Tier 2: Fringe Eastern Conference Championship Contenders

Nets, Cavaliers, 76ers

These three shouldn’t be considered favorites, but they all do still pose a real threat to make it out of this conference. The Brooklyn Nets have been surrounded by drama all off-season, but as of now it looks like they’ll be able to hold onto Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant. Those two alone pose a threat, and with the right squad around them they can certainly make some noise.

The Cleveland Cavaliers just made a splash move, trading for Donovan Mitchell. Mitchell, a proven star who has performed very well in the playoffs throughout his career, will join a very talented young corps. There isn’t enough star talent on the roster yet for them to be in tier one, but this team is extremely talented.

As for the Philadelphia 76ers, the perennial playoff disappointing team will have another crack at it this year. This time, James Harden and Joel Embiid will likely get to play a full season together. If Philadelphia can put it all together in the playoffs this time around, they’ll be a real problem.

Tier 3: Playoff Contenders

Bulls, Hawks, Raptors, Knicks, Hornets

These five teams should still be around come April, but they don’t have everything it takes to truly be championship contenders in the Eastern Conference — yet.

The Chicago Bulls started 2021 strong, but faded as the year went on, and haven’t made any major upgrades this summer. The Atlanta Hawks added Dejounte Murray, and they’re the only team in this tier that has a legitimate argument to be in Tier 2. Unfortunately, the team around Murray and Trae Young isn’t quite good enough yet.

The Toronto Raptors grabbed a playoff spot last season, but were quickly bounced by the Sixers. This unit has a ton of young talent, and they could be a true contender very soon. The New York Knicks added Jalen Brunson, but their inability to add any other star power leaves them down in this tier.

As for the Charlotte Hornets, well they seem to be the same team from last year. With the Bridges issues, and their silence on the market this offseason, they’ve shown no signs of improvement.

3 Most Underrated NBA Teams For the 2022-23 Season

Underrated NBA Teams
Photo courtesy of Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

As we slowly creep closer to the new NBA season, predictions for every team have been well accounted for. There are consensus conclusions on who the contenders are around the league, as well as some playoff-bubble and bottom of the barrel teams. However, here are three underrated NBA teams as we begin the new season.

Atlanta Hawks

The Hawks may not be one of the more underrated NBA teams, but with the acquisitions made this off-season, they are underrated title contenders.

The Hawks have made the playoffs each of the past two years. They even went so far as to make the 2021 Eastern Conference Finals, and were just two wins away from the NBA Finals. They followed that up with another playoff appearance in the 2021 season. Unfortunately, they didn’t make it nearly as far, bowing out in five games in the first round.

Atlanta has since improved their team after that disappointing playoff run. They traded Kevin Huerter to Sacramento, but recouped that loss after picking Up Dejounte Murray from San Antonio. Murray will add some much-needed defense to their backcourt, and form a dynamic duo with Trae Young. The Hawks certainty aren’t being counted out of the playoff race, but they should be looked at as more of a legitimate contender.

Minnesota Timberwolves

The Wolves found themselves back in the playoffs last season, and they put up a solid fight in the first round. This off-season, they upgraded by getting one of the best defenders in the league, Rudy Gobert. The price for Gobert was far from cheap, with Minnesota having to give up a whopping four first round picks.

The Wolves were willing to pay that price though, and the team is better because of it. Gobert and Karl Anthony Towns immediately form one of, if not the best big-man duos in the league. Minnesota was already on the upswing, but after picking up Gobert, they should be considered a contender in the western conference.

New York Knicks

The Knicks made the playoffs in the 2020 season, but failed to perform up to that caliber last year. We saw the quick decline and departure of Kemba Walker in New York. The Knicks were able to replace him with a massive upgrade in Jalen Brunson.

Brunson really had a breakout season last year, and made himself a lot of money with his playoff performance. He moves to the big apple this year, and will lead a team that is very similar to the squad that secured the fourth seed in 2020. The potential of this team is exciting. With the addition of Brunson, they should be considered a true contender in the eastern conference.