Sports NBA Eastern Conference power rankings By SCOTT FONTANA firstname.lastname@example.org @Scott_Fontana Updated October 27, 2015 7:33 PM Print Share fbShare Tweet Email 1Cleveland Cavaliers Health is the only thing that can hold LeBron James' crew back. If Kevin Love can thrive in his role alongside James and Kyrie Irving, this is a true threat to the West's best. 2Atlanta Hawks The loss of DeMarre Carroll (Raptors) will hurt. He was the heart of the Hawks' defense. The team is too well-oiled to struggle mightily unless Al Horford or Paul Millsap goes down, but they're not winning 60 again. 3Chicago Bulls This team is basically the same, for better or worse. It will be interesting how they respond under new coach Fred Hoiberg. The X-factor, as always, is Derrick Rose's ability to make it onto the court intact. 4Milwaukee Bucks Last year's surprise is a future East power after the Greg Monroe signing. A young, talented starting lineup should be more than good enough to make noise. And, they'll do it in sweet new uniforms. 5Miami Heat A mix of aging stars (Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Amar'e Stoudemire), fringe-prime contributors (Goran Dragic) and intriguing young talent (Hassan Whiteside, Justise Winslow) make for a borderline East threat. 6Toronto Raptors Carroll will fill some of the leaks in this defense, and newly-svelte All-Star point guard Kyle Lowry is playing great in preseason. The Raptors have a high ceiling, but last season's collapse is troubling. 7Washington Wizards The Wizards couldn't replace Paul Pierce's playoff grit, but maybe some of it rubbed off on guards John Wall and Bradley Beal. It better have, because Washington did less to improve than most in the East. 8Boston Celtics With an offseason trade, David Lee went from championship benchwarmer to important contributor for a young Boston squad. They've got so many talented young players, but no true stars. Someone needs to make the leap. 9Orlando Magic They could be this season's version of the Bucks and make the playoffs, or continue languish with a young core. Watch out for Victor Oladipo to become a household name sooner rather than later. 10Detroit Pistons Guard Reggie Jackson must prove he was worth Detroit's investment in him and help Andre Drummond get this team back to the postseason. If Stanley Johnson emerges as a Rookie of the Year candidate, they might get there. 11Indiana Pacers Paul George is the last major holdover from when the Pacers battled LeBron's Heat in the playoffs. He's left with some decent supporting players (Monta Ellis and George Hill), but Indiana is short on, well, height. 12Knicks Every move the Knicks made over the summer improved the team. They now have players capable of defending NBA-level talent (Brook Lopez and Arron Afflalo) and a promising prospect (Kristaps Porzingis). Carmelo Anthony's club is on the rise. 13Charlotte Hornets Charlotte made some subtle moves to improve over the summer, but losing Michael Kidd-Gilchrist to injury hurts. Al Jefferson and Kemba Walker must do the heavy lifting, as usual. 14Nets Hey, this was par for the course when the team was in New Jersey. Sadly, all a bad season like this would do is ensure more quality young talent for the Celtics, who own Brooklyn's first-rounder. 15Philadelphia 76ers The Sixers finally will live down to their potential as the worst team in the NBA. Watching this team is like watching a Triple-A baseball game with a couple good prospects (Jahlil Okafor and Nerlens Noel). By SCOTT FONTANA email@example.com @Scott_Fontana Scott has been amNewYork's sports editor since 2012 and has more than a decade of experience covering sports. Share on Facebook Share on Twitter Comments We're revamping our Comments section. Learn more and share your input.