(Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
The 2021-22 NBA season is right around the corner, with less than two months until games start back up. The Eastern Conference landscape has shifted significantly this summer, with big-name acquisitions (Kyle Lowry to Miami, Kemba Walker to New York) and looming trades (Ben Simmons in Philly, Pascal Siakam in Toronto) leaving more questions than answers.
We don’t know how the standings will play out, but we can make educated predictions based on a number of factors. The following is an alphabetical look at the ceiling and floor of each Eastern Conference team. At the end of the article are final record predictions.
Before we get to the Sixers, we will start at A, for Atlanta…
Predicting the NBA Eastern Conference standings: Atlanta Hawks
CEILING: Top-3 seed, conference finals appearance
FLOOR: Play-in tournament, first round exit
The Hawks are the deepest team in the NBA. With 12 or 13 rotation-level players and a budding superstar in Trae Young, it’s hard not to have high expectations going into the season. Atlanta is fresh off a conference finals appearance, and should only gain strength with a full summer of work under Nate McMillan.
That said, the Hawks are difficult to pin down. Before McMillan was hired mid-season, Atlanta was at the bottom of the conference, nowhere near contention. Then, upon hiring McMillan, the Hawks’ win percentage was on track with Philadelphia atop the conference.…