The Pistons are wearing their Motor City jerseys tonight.
Conventional wisdom says the two-time defending champion Miami Heat, Indiana Pacers, Chicago Bulls, New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets are head and shoulders above the rest of the Eastern Conference and – barring a disaster – will secure the top five spots.
At the other end of the conference, you can probably toss out the Orlando Magic, Charlotte Bobcats and Philadelphia 76ers, who could pool their rosters to come up with the 15 best players and still not make the playoffs.
That leaves three spots for the remaining seven teams. Last season, those spots went to the Boston Celtics, Atlanta Hawks and Milwaukee Bucks. Some would argue that each of those teams took backward steps in the offseason and could wind up in the lottery.
The postseason door could be open for teams such as the Cleveland Cavaliers and Detroit Pistons, who clearly upgraded their rosters this summer in an effort to play in May. But have they done enough?
The dust has settled and the NBA offseason has officially hit its conclusion when it comes to the futures market.
Yes, there’s still a few prominent names out there – Lamar Odom, Corey Maggette and Tyrus Thomas among them – but no one who is going to crash our list of the top 10 free agent signings.
In 2011, when the Cleveland Cavaliers were awarded the first overall pick at the NBA’s draft lottery, Nick Gilbert – the son of Cavs owner Dan Gilbert – exclaimed on national television, “What’s not to like?!”
Two years after using that first pick on Kyrie Irving, the Cavaliers were once again awarded the top overall pick at the this year’s draft lottery. On that night this past May, ESPN’s Heather Cox repeated Nick Gilbert’s question back to him.
“What’s not to like?” she said.
“Being in the lottery,” he responded.