Let me start this article off by saying that the Eastern Conference suddenly got a whole lot more interesting. With Cleveland reigning supreme for what seemed like a never-ending two years, it should be refreshing to see some good old fashioned competition.
1. Al Horford signing with the Boston Celtics.
To me, this is by far - and not just because I bleed green - the biggest deal for the league. Al Horford is arguably a top 5 talent at his position in the league, and the Celtics locking him down to a 4-year max contract shows why. Horford brings some much needed paint presence for the Celtics front court, and will surely have an immediate impact. Averaging 15.2 PPG, 7.3 RPG, and bolstering a PER of 19.46, Horford brings efficiency in not only offense, but also defense. Lets not forget that he started in every single game for Atlanta last season, showing that at the age of 30, he takes good care of his body. In my opinion, I think this, along with the developed young talent the Celtics have, pushes them to fight for that second spot in the east beside Toronto, Atlanta, Miami, and the newly revamped Orlando Magic.
2. The Orlando Magic stocking up on talent.
The Orlando Magic have gone full steam ahead for a playoff spot in the past few months with all of the moves they've made. Trading Victor Oladipo for Serge Ibaka, signing Bismack Biyombo, as well as signing an aging Jeff Green, the Magic have surprisingly started to put together a decent team. Biyombo proved in the playoffs last year that at a young age he has a lot of talent, and a very high ceiling. With a limit on his offense, he will surely be put in their system for rebounds, blocks, and his stellar defense. Ibaka is a seasoned veteran who was one game away from the NBA finals last year in Oklahoma, so I am not sure what his thoughts are on this fresh start. Regardless, Ibaka is an effective power forward who can provide some great minutes off the bench as a sixth or seventh man. With Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic, Bismack Biyombo, and Ibaka, the Magic have somehow found themselves with a plethora of big men. Put young guards Evan Fournier and Elfrid Payton beside them with Mario Herzonja and Jeff Green filling out the rest and you have yourself a fairly respectable team. I am very, very excited to see how this young team plays out in the East and I project them to be a middle to low playoff team this season.
3. Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah reuniting in New York.
The New York Knicks have decided that they wanted to pair Noah and Rose together once again, but this time with a hungry Carmelo Anthony and Prospering Kristaps Porzingis. Now let me just say I may be writing this entire part and end up eating my words later, because as we all know Noah and Rose are both plagued by injury. Noah started just two games last season, and appeared in just 29 games total. He could be successful in New York, finding a resurgence and producing once again like he did just two years ago. I see Noah sitting in a reserved role there for his leadership and dominant defense. He could fill that hole that has been in the Knicks front court, but only time will tell. With Rose there is a constant thought of, "How many games left until he gets injured?" With a talented career bogged down with injuries we could see the resurgence of 2010 League MVP Derrick Rose. Former teammate Jimmy Butler stated recently that Rose has been working very hard, and that he expects Rose to produce numbers similar to what he used to be known for. The two might be what New York needed to push for a bottom playoff spot and face a team in the likes of Boston, Toronto, or Atlanta.
With all of these moves and more to come, the NBA's Eastern Conference has suddenly gone from lackluster, to something that gets basketball junkies' blood flowing. It surely will be an eventful season, and I cannot wait for October 25.