Where oddsmakers view Wizards in a deep Eastern Conference originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington
The 2022-23 NBA season is upon us and, after another busy offseason for the league, the Eastern Conference looks as good and as deep as it's ever been.
Between the heavyweights at the top like Boston, Milwaukee and Miami to playoff hopefuls who've loaded up their rosters like the Hawks and Cavaliers, you could make the case for 12 teams to reach the postseason.
Before training camp and preseason games come to a close, let's take a look at what each team did to improve their roster over the summer and how oddsmakers see the final standings shaking out.
Projected win totals and odds were provided by PointsBet Sportsbook.
1. Boston Celtics (55.5 wins)
Stock up or down?: Up⬆ (51 wins last season)
After a stunning midseason turnaround took them all the way to the NBA Finals, the Celtics enter the 2022-23 campaign as the favorites in the East. Every key rotation player will be back, while Malcolm Brogdon joins what should be the best defensive backcourt in the NBA alongside Marcus Smart and Derrick White. The Celtics have star power at the top, they're deep and have a defense that should remain one of the best in the NBA. If Boston isn't a top-three seed in the East at the end of the season, something likely went wrong.
2. Milwaukee Bucks (51.5 wins)
Key additions: Joe Ingles | Key losses: N/A
Stock up or down?: Neutral➡ (51 wins last season)
The Bucks took the Celtics to seven games in the second round of the playoffs without an injured Khris Middleton. They have the best player in the world on their side and a roster built to maximize his talents. Joe Ingles should also provide some much-needed shooting and secondary playmaking from the wing. The Celtics will get plenty of attention after their run to the Finals, but the Bucks still have a real claim as the best team in the East.
3. Brooklyn Nets (51.5 wins)
Stock up or down?: Up⬆ (44 wins last season)
Ben Simmons might as well be included in the additions category as well since he missed every game after he was traded to Brooklyn with a back injury. The Nets were riddled with drama all of last season and it leaked into the offseason when Kevin Durant requested a trade. Durant, Simmons and Kyrie Irving are still on the roster and if they actually play together for once, the Nets should be a Finals contender. Royce O'Neale and TJ Warren are great additions to remedy the weaknesses Boston exploited in the playoffs. Whether the Nets live up to their potential, however, has proven to be a big if.
4. Philadelphia 76ers (50.5 wins)
Stock up or down?: Neutral➡ (51 wins last season)
James Harden's pay cut allowed the Sixers to add some much-needed depth and defensive versatility to their supporting cast. Tucker should be a perfect fit as a power forward next to Joel Embiid while De'Anthony Melton is an ideal off-ball point guard to play next to Harden. Philly should be better in the regular season than they were last year, but the key will be Embiid staying healthy and Harden exorcizing his playoff demons when the time comes.
5. Miami Heat (49.5 wins)
Key additions: Nikola Jovic | Key losses: PJ Tucker, Markieff Morris
Stock up or down?: Down⬇ (53 wins last season)
The Heat seem to be banking on internal development this year after coming within one win of the NBA Finals in 2022. Kyle Lowry and Tyler Herro both missed time and were hampered in the Eastern Conference finals due to injury, so with better health and growth from both guards -- Lowry in Year 2 with the team and Herro entering his fourth professional season -- you could argue the Heat could improve from their finish last season. However, several East teams made significant acquisitions over the summer while the Heat mostly stood pat and saw PJ Tucker leave for Philadelphia. Fifth may be too low for a team that knows exactly how it wants to play and is great at it, but it goes to show just how deep the East is this year.
6. Cleveland Cavaliers (48.5 wins)
Key additions: Donovan Mitchell, Raul Neto | Key losses: Collin Sexton, Lauri Markkanen
Stock up or down?: Up⬆ (44 wins last season)
The Cavs made one of the big splashes of the summer by trading for Donovan Mitchell. The three-time All-Star will now join a potent starting lineup featuring Darius Garland, Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. Wing depth is a major question, especially in a conference where Cleveland will have to defend Giannis Antetokounmpo, Kevin Durant, Jayson Tatum and Jimmy Butler, but the Garland-Mitchell backcourt should be electric on offense while Mobley and Allen anchor a fearsome defensive front line. The Cavs' perimeter defense might be suspect, but you aren't getting anything easy at the rim against them.
7. Atlanta Hawks (47.5 wins)
Key additions: Dejounte Murray, AJ Griffin, Justin Holiday | Key losses: Kevin Huerter, Danilo Gallinari
Stock up or down?: Up⬆ (43 wins last season)
Atlanta swing big for Dejounte Murray this offseason and will hope he brings enough perimeter defense and secondary ball-handling to take the Hawks to the next level. The fit with Trae Young still feels a bit wonky since both players are known to thrive on the ball, not off, but Murray should make Young's life a whole lot easier on both ends. The Hawks were in the conference finals in 2021 and then had to go through the play-in tournament to make the playoffs last season. It's hard to imagine a play-in berth would be acceptable to them after investing what they have in Murray and Young.
8. Toronto Raptors (44.5 wins)
Key additions: Otto Porter Jr., Josh Jackson | Key losses: N/A
Stock up or down?: Down⬇ (48 wins last season)
The Raptors seemed to be in on the Kevin Durant sweepstakes but like the rest of the league, did not come to an agreement with Brooklyn on a trade. Now, they'll pretty much run things back from last season with a key NBA Finals contributor joining the squad in Otto Porter Jr. Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet are both All-Star caliber players who should have the Raptors in the playoff mix regardless of how many offseason additions they made, but this team's ceiling will be determined by the kind of leap reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes can make in Year 2.
9. Chicago Bulls (43.5 wins)
Key additions: Andre Drummond, Goran Dragic | Key losses: Troy Brown Jr.
Stock up or down?: Down⬇ (46 wins last season)
The Bulls were the feel-good story in the NBA last season before injuries to Lonzo Ball and Alex Caruso torpedoed their defense and DeMar DeRozan's career year ended in a gentleman's sweep at the hands of the Bucks in the first round. Chicago is another team more or less running it back in 2022-23, so if they can get better injury luck and some growth from a hopefully fully healthy Patrick Williams, the Bulls could get right back into the mix for a top-six seed. As of now, though, they're in the thick of the play-in field.
10. New York Knicks (37.5 wins)
Key additions: Jalen Brunson, Isaiah Hartenstein | Key losses: Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, Taj Gibson
Stock up or down?: Neutral➡ (37 wins last season)
Are the Knicks a better team after signing Jalen Brunson in free agency? Absolutely. Are they a lock to make the playoffs with Brunson, RJ Barrett and Julius Randle leading the way? No, no they're not. The East is as deep as it's ever been and unless young players like Barrett, Immanuel Quickley, Obi Toppin or Quentin Grimes make significant strides on both ends of the floor, New York simply doesn't have enough talent to compete with the conference's elite.
11. Charlotte Hornets (36.5 wins)
Key additions: Mark Williams | Key losses: Montrezl Harrell
Stock up or down?: Down⬇ (43 wins last season)
LaMelo Ball is back for Year 3 and after an All-Star campaign a year ago, he'll be primed to build off of it in a big way as the Hornets' offensive maestro. Miles Bridges' status for the season looms large for Charlotte's postseason prospects, however. Bridges is facing felony domestic abuse charges in California and is set to appear for a preliminary hearing on September 29. Until the case concludes, Bridges' playing status remains unknown.
12. Washington Wizards (35.5 wins)
Key additions: Monte Morris, Will Barton, Johnny Davis, Delon Wright, Taj Gibson | Key losses: Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, Raul Neto, Ish Smith, Thomas Bryant
Stock up or down?: Neutral➡ (35 wins last season)
The Wizards have been pegged to finish outside the play-in tournament at a similar win total to what they finished with last season. Washington has revamped its backcourt, bringing in Monte Morris and Will Barton via trade while drafting Johnny Davis 10th overall. Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis have also yet to play a game together since Beal's season ended before Washington traded for the Latvian big man. The Wizards are a better team now than when they finished the 2021-22 season, so their stagnant win projection might just show how good the conference is.
13. Detroit Pistons (28.5 wins)
Key additions: Jaden Ivey, Jalen Duren, Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel | Key losses: Jerami Grant
Stock up or down?: Up⬆ (23 wins last season)
The Pistons were a much better team after last year's All-Star break than they were before it and truly seemed to find their identity as a tough, physical group who thrives off of Cade Cunningham's brilliance. Add a few athletic freaks into the mix in Jaden Ivey and Jalen Duren and the Pistons are looking like one of the more exciting young teams in the NBA. They'll still take a few lumps against their East rivals, however.
14. Orlando Magic (27.5 wins)
Key additions: Paolo Banchero | Key losses: Robin Lopez
Stock up or down?: Up⬆ (22 wins last season)
Are the Magic on the way back up? Orlando's accumulated a promising group of young, versatile players but hasn't been able to land the linchpin to make it all work. An offensive talent like Paolo Banchero could be the missing piece, though. Don't expect the Magic to make a ton of noise in the playoff picture this season, but they'll be much more fun to watch than they have been in quite some time.
15. Indiana Pacers (25.5 wins)
Key additions: Benedict Mathurin, Daniel Theis | Key losses: Malcolm Brogdon, TJ Warren
Stock up or down?: Neutral➡ (25 wins last season)
The Pacers will be a fun team at times given their up-tempo style of play and Tyrese Haliburton running the show as Indiana's new franchise player. They just won't be very good, which is more than fine for a team that could have a chance to pair Haliburton with a generational talent like Victor Wembanyama in next year's draft.