NBA Preview: Eastern Conference

Mike Dupar breaks down the NBA's Eastern Conference.
By    October 18, 2017

Art by All-Pro Reels

On the day of the new NBA season I felt it necessary to pay respect to the most absurd and fascinating league in the world, with a preview that is equally absurd and hopefully at least somewhat interesting. We continue yesterday’s Western Conference breakdown with a thorough look at the East.

Everywhere you turn you will find a microcosm of your own life and that is just one of the reasons why I love the NBA. So without further ado, I present the Eastern Conference Preview. —Mike Dupar

Atlantic Division(in order of ranking):

Boston Celtics

The Celtics essentially overturned their entire roster and somehow got unanimously better in the eyes of the NBA intelligentsia. Then Gordon Hayward’s ankle did its best impression of that woman’s head in The Exorcist and all hope was lost. Honestly, that injury really got me in my feelings and for a moment I considered crying, but ultimately refrained as my cat was watching. Never show weakness in front of a cat. Now we get to see how brilliant Brad Stevens really is. Thus far he has somehow been simultaneously over and underrated, his shitty haircut and play designs suggest that he is in fact a genius but at the same time his job only requires him to out think people like Jason Kidd. Ultimately, the Celtics are fucked as far as championship aspirations go, but now we get to see Tatum and Brown develop a bit more quickly while Kyrie gets to pretend for a whole season that he’s John Wick and that Hayward was his puppy.

Prediction:Kyrie replaces Ted in Ted 3 and starts a boarding school in the Boston suburbs, the curriculum of which is exclusively flat-earth theory and L Ron Hubbard’s books. Brad Stevens, in a moment of weakness, tries marijuana for the first time. Unfortunately for Stevens, this is no ordinary hit of weed, as he smokes it out of an oil rig developed by MIT students for the sole purpose of transporting its smoker to a parallel dimension. Stevens finds himself trapped in basketball purgatory and is forced to watch Kyrie call iso clear outs for the rest of time.

hex 0

Lil’ B Hex Meter: 0/100, Apparently the Celtics were already cursed. As to why though, I have no idea, as it’s not like their franchise point guard played through the death of his sister and a hip injury only to get traded for a guy who doesn’t believe in science.

Toronto Drakes

The Drakes are the definition of middling disappointment. The Drakes are an objectively talented team that win a lot every year but inevitably are ridiculed for not going deeper. Well, I’m not one of those people to balk at teams that are slightly above average, I applaud those masters of mediocrity who prefer to repeatedly do the same thing expecting different results. The Drakes prefer to waste their potential on regurgitated concepts and ignore countless opportunities to truly look deep within themselves to address their glaring inadequacies. And no, this is not a poorly veiled critique of Drake himself.

Prediction: The Drakes do what they do every year and underwhelm. Meanwhile Drake hires a witch doctor to revive Aaliyah so that “someone can finally love and understand him.” Aaliyah comes back from the dead with a Doctorate in Psychology and begins treating Drake for what she tells the press to be “a litany of issues of which modern psychology has never seen before.” After curing Drake, Aaliyah, with the help of Lil’ B, turns back time and gifts a young Bruno Mars with the lyrics and music to “Step in the Name of Love” and “Ignition (Remix).” R Kelly ceases to exist and the world is saved from endless wedding day conundrums.

hex 0

Lil’ B Hex Meter: 0/100, There will be no hex, but Lil B and Aalyiah shall be wed and be the leaders of the free world.

Philadelphia 76ers

dario mcpoyle

There is nothing I value more than basketball beavers but NBA players that look like McPoyles are an easy second. For those of you unfamiliar with the work of the McPoyle family I leave you this. Dario McPoyle is a swiss-army knife of a basketball player; he jacks silky threes with the form of a sexy catapult, rebounds with the quickness of a Kardashian and plays with, as the Croatians say, a general je ne sais quoi. The Sixers have a long way to go before they compete at the highest level but if Dario McPoyle stays healthy I think they compete for the 4th seed in the East.

On a more serious note, Joel Embiid is a top 5 player if he stays healthy. There is not a whole lot of risk in that statement, as Embiid is essentially a giant walking boot, but last year I saw this man systematically and single-handedly plunder the Bucks in every possible way in only 20-some minutes of play. His highlights from the game don’t even do his performance justice as he disrupted nearly every Bucks possession and finished on the other end in every imaginable way.

Prediction: Dario McPoyle finishes top 5 in MVP voting and leads the Sixers to the 8th seed. The NBA, weary of McPoyle’s massive leap in skill over the course of the season, decides to drug test him every 5 minutes for the entirety of the playoffs. After hours of lab research, the NBA’s head scientists determine that Dario is actually a centaur. Dario is suspended from the league indefinitely and becomes a key political figure in the Centaur rights movement and is eventually elected Governor of Florida, which turns out be populated by 95% centaurs.

hex 80

Lil’ B Hex Meter: 80/100, Jealous of all the team’s success, Sam Hinkie decides to enlist the services of Lil’ B to hex the the 76ers. Lil’ B, unwilling to cast a hex for money, flips the script on Hinkie and steals all his basketball knowledge. Lil’ B goes on to be GM of the Sixers.

New York Knicks

Pour some out for Pythagorean Phil, who nearly traded one of the best young players in the league for a time-share in Syria. Now with Phil gone, the Knicks can go back to being sabotaged by James Dolan. It occurred to me that this would be a fantastic opportunity to review Dolan’s band’s music, but that’ll be a much more tantalizing prospect once the Knicks somehow find themselves eliminated from playoff contention prior to the All-Star game. This year we finally get to see what a team tailored entirely around Porzingis looks like. Hopefully, whoever coaches the Knicks realizes quickly that playing the Zinger at anything but the 5 is fucking stupid. No one wants to see Kanter and the Zinger stumble around the court together, the people of New York want the Zinger running the point, the New York marathon, the Hip-Hop Hall of Fame Ceremony and most importantly, Dolan out of town. The Knicks are going to be horrendous but if the Zinger balls out and can ignore the urge to lust after Instagram models the Knicks will be on the right track.

Prediction: Porzingis is adopted by the Wu-Tang Clan and tattoos the group’s logo on his forehead and leads the league in scoring. Franky Fume (Fume is Croatian for smoke) averages 8 assists a game and introduces Doug McDermott to the writings of Sartre and Camus. Joakim Noah is framed and charged by the NYPD with intent to distribute Viagra illegally. The New York Times runs a 5-week expose into police corruption and discovers that the Viagra was planted as a means of keeping Noah off the court. The Knicks win exactly one more game than the Nets and Spike Lee is banned from the Garden after Michael Rappaport throws a snow cone at Dolan and immediately points at Spike. Charles Oakley invests all his free time into earning a position as contributing editor at Pitchfork only to give Dolan’s next blues album a well-deserved .1/10. As a result, Dolan finally sells the Knicks and goes into exile. Desus and Mero buy the Knicks and change the team name to the New York Bodega Boys. The Bodega Boys win 8 straight championships.

hex 0

Lil’ B Hex Meter: 0/100, No curse is more powerful than that of Dolan’s ownership. Dolan proves to be impervious to Lil’ B’s abilities and New York City is swallowed by the ocean. Or of course my prediction comes true.

Brooklyn Nets

For the first time in what feels like an eternity, the Nets made off-season moves that indicated that they might be more than just a shell company for Putin. The Nets didn’t enter the off-season with a lot of options, but taking on DeMarre Carroll’s aberration of a contract in return for a couple of picks was wonderfully un-Nets-like. D’Angelo Russell was the biggest addition of the off-season and despite his past social media blunder, a good one that could pay off down the road. Point guards are typically slow developing in the NBA and lets not overlook the fact that Kobe’s farewell tour basically castrated Russell’s game for an entire year.

Prediction: Russell inadvertently snapchats every team member’s penis to a Russian Intelligence agency and is brought in for questioning at the Kremlin as Russian authorities believe the message to be a coded communication expressing his desire to defect. During his “trip” Russell continues to snapchat without thought and again inadvertently captures something he’s not supposed to. This time, it’s the infamous Steele dossier tape featuring President Trump, urine, and prostitutes. Russell’s snapchat is finally the key piece of evidence that yields Trump’s impeachment. Russell averages a triple-double for the rest of his career and is considered a hero.

hex 0

Lil’ B Hex Meter:  0/100, Come on now, Lil B hates Trump, there is no way he’s cursing the team that employs our only hope.

Central Division:

Cleveland Cavaliers

Just for a moment let’s celebrate LeBron James. He’s a whiny and passive aggressive walking muscle of a man, but LeBron has spent every moment since he was 17 years old under intense public scrutiny and has truly never faltered. While he brings a lot of that scrutiny upon himself, LeBron doesn’t get enough credit for changing the way we think of the career autonomy of athletes and for never finding himself in some social media imbroglio. LeBron’s work as a philanthropist doesn’t get enough shine, so if only just for a moment, let’s celebrates him.

Okay now that that is out of the way, LeBron is a fucking punk and a shitty puppet-master who now finds himself starting alongside a sexual predator with bad knees, the shell of Kevin Love, and a geriatric Dwayne Wade. If I had to bet, Isaiah Thomas doesn’t play until late in the season and even then he only plays to kamikaze into the Celtics playoff run. The superfluous “a” in his first name will always prevent Thomas from a full recovery.

Prediction: JR Smith pranks LeBron by replacing his specialty shampoo with Nair. Now bald, LeBron is mercilessly ridiculed by all and as a result a Cavs jersey featuring the name “Jordan” on the back and the number 23 is the NBA’s top selling jersey at the end of the year. Thomas intentionally knocks Brad Stevens over in the East Finals; Stevens’ sternum splits open to reveal a small alien inhabiting and controlling Stevens’ body a la Men in Black. The NBA suspends the alien basketball genius indefinitely and the Cavs coast to the Finals only to get that ass cracked once more by the Spurs. TNT replaces Kenny Smith with the basketball genius alien and he and Charles Barkly start dating and become America’s sweethearts. LeBron leaves the Cavs for the Lakers and gets hair plugs that resemble Anderson Varejao’s signature curls.

hex 100

Lil’ B Hex Meter: 100/100, Lil’ B is the hero we have all prayed for! The Based One invites Derrick Rose to his apartment under the pretense of recording a feature on a Very Based Christmas Album. Rose has zero suspicions and obliges, only to find Lena Dunham waiting for him. Lena throws Rose the ball and says, “play for your soul.” Unbeknownst to Rose, Lil’ B has done a Space Jam-esque transfer of powers from Kevin Durant to Dunham. Lena Dunham proceeds to cross Derrick Rose so hard that the earth’s crust splits and Satan pulls Rose to hell. The whole thing is live-streamed on Lil’ B’s Facebook. Lil’ B is suspended once again from Facebook.

Milwaukee Bucks

If you haven’t already figured it out, I’m a Bucks fan. As such, I’ve spent all of my life wandering around solemnly like a Godless Soren Kierkegaard. Last season I found some salvation by accepting Giannis Antetokounmpo as my lord and savior, yet still, a part of me can’t fully commit to optimism and the enlightened life. The reason is a murky, curdled concoction of Jason Kidd, the three stooges of ownership, and decades of despair. Firstly, Jason Kidd is not a good basketball coach. In the last two seasons Kidd has taken a team chalked full of individually brilliant defenders and molded them into a Picasso-esque creature made of shit and limbs. The Bucks defense is supposedly reliant on length and countless switches, but what that really means under Kidd, is that the team wildly flails their arms around in chaos and hope for the best. The Bucks gave up the most corner threes last season and proved, by doing so, that Kidd doesn’t understand analytics or the direction the game is headed.

Maybe even more alarming is the behavior of the owners. Over the course of the off-season, John Hammond, then GM of the Bucks, was allowed to interview for a position with the Magic. The Magic offered Hammond the position and he left the Bucks. The supposed GM in-waiting, Justin Zanik, who’d been brought in under the explicit role of being groomed for the position once Hammond left, was left high and dry as the ownership failed to agree on a single candidate. The fact that an interview process that dragged out for weeks even needed to occur in the first place was absurd due to the fact that the Bucks already had an assistant GM and were the ones who allowed Hammond to interview in first place. Then, to make things worse, it comes out that two of the owners alternate terms under which one owner exercises complete control over the team for 5 years at a time. Plainly put, the Milwaukee Bucks are being run as if it were a Playboy magazine shared between two pubescent boys. Giannis is going to be an all-time great but this shit might be just too much for even him to contend with.

Prediction: Ultimately, Giannis and the best basketball beaver in the league, aka Beaver Gawd Middleton, are enough to take this team to the next level, but just as the team starts to gel on the court, our jizz-rags of owners decide to trade Middleton, Thon Maker, and what’s left of Jabari Parker to the Cubs. They move the team to the Bermuda Triangle, but Kidd is fired and all the Bucks faithful celebrate…until the ownership decides to hire Phil Jackson. I hang myself.

hex 0

Lil’ B Hex Meter: 0/100, As much as it pains me to say, the Bucks need no help in the curse department. The fact that a bunch of New York hedge-fund skid marks came to town and made us pay for a brand new stadium for a franchise that functions with continuity for only 5 years at a time is more of a curse than even I could’ve dreamt up.

Indiana Pacers

The Pacers traded Paul George for an off-brand Jason Derulo and Larry Bird finally called it quits. The Pacers are in a dark place but nothing is as dark as the lower two-thirds of the East, which is why they’ll probably make the playoffs. Myles Turner has the opportunity to make his first All-Star game and if Oladipo can fight the temptation and focus on basketball instead of America’s Got Talent, he’s got a real shot at getting his career back on track. The addition by way of subtraction that comes from the buy-out of Monta Ellis cannot over stated. In all my years of basketball fandom, no player had confounded and enraged fan bases quite like Monta Ellis. The man lived to take horrendous shots and for far too long, like a basketball cockroach, survived in the league on a strict diet of radium and garbage. Pour some out for Ellis’ career and pray that we never have to watch him again.

Prediction: The Pacers lure Bird out of retirement with a strategically placed corndog coupon that can only be redeemed by the President of Basketball Operations. Reluctantly, Bird rejoins, unable to turn down a cheap corndog, and brings back Roy Hibbert to be the Lance Stephenson whisperer. Lance comes in second in MVP voting after completely altering his body with millions of dollars of plastic surgery. Now standing 7 feet tall, Lance takes the Pacers to the East semis and blows in LeBron’s ear again. Lance’s spleen bursts and the Pacers fall to the Cavs. Oladipo marries Mariah Carey and together they record a series of Tony Bennett covers.

hex 0

Lil’ B Hex Meter: 0/100, No disrespect to Lil B, but no curse is stronger than that of having had Monta Ellis on your roster for as long as the Pacers did.

Detroit Pistons

The Pistons are moving to downtown Detroit, which is really the only good thing that will happen to them this year. They got Avery Bradley, which is great but he’s gone after this year and then what? Ultimately, most of this team’s issues stem from one individual’s inability to put the team’s feelings, health, and safety ahead of his own branding misstep. I’m talking about Andre Drummond’s chest hair, which is the single vilest thing in the entire league. Last year I conned my way into courtside seats for the Bucks vs. the Pistons and much to my dismay I found Andre’s chest pubes bristling against my face for 30-some minutes and then scattered amongst my belongings for the next six months. Obviously, Drummond thought his chest pubes would help him solidify some brand recognition like Anthony Davis’ unibrow, but things have gotten out of hand in Detroit. One anonymous player on the Pistons went so far as to accuse Drummond’s chest pubes of starting rumors, and worse, fraternizing with another player’s wife. “Boban thinks it’s a distraction and a blight upon humanity. Boban has never seen such inappropriate conduct in all his Boban years,” said one anonymous Pistons player.

Prediction: Stan Van Gundy installs a Cheesecake Factory pipeline that dispenses all his favorites right into his lap on the bench. Andre Drummond shaves his chest hair and adds 8 inches to his vertical. Boban continues to be supreme ruler of the NBA and posts 100 points, 750 rebounds and 1 assist against the Bulls in just 10 minutes.

hex 0

Lil’ B Hex Meter: 0/100, Lil B has got much better shit to do. For example, he’s in talks to bring back the MTV hit Rob and Big, this time staring the Based One and Boban.

Chicago Bulls

Not only is Gar Forman the dumbest fucking name in league history, but he is also potentially the dumbest GM in league history. How does one earn such a title? They trade a two-way superstar for a shooting guard who is tragically dependent on his athletic ability and is coming off an ACL tear. Then he drafts a 7 footer who can’t rebound or play defense and hopes that if he feeds the name “Baby Dirk” to the media enough that it’ll become a reality. Wait, wait Gar wasn’t finished, as he then traded Jordan Bell, a promising young forward to the Warriors for a sushi dinner. How, exactly, Gar decided to reconcile simultaneously trading away a 27-year-old superstar and beginning to rebuild his team we may never know, but what I do know is that the Bulls are going to be utter garbage and I’m going to enjoy every minute of it.

Prediction: Gar Forman invests all of his money in a start-up thin crust pizza chain in the Chicago area and losses it all. Zach Lavine continues to not be very good at most aspects of basketball and Lauri Markkanen plays an entire half with a very noticeable pee stain on his shorts.

hex 50

Lil’ B Hex Meter: 50/100, One would think that a team that has so wonderfully self-sabotaged like the Bulls could evade a curse, but Gar Forman is a miracle worker, folks. I won’t pretend to know how or when, but the Bulls will be cursed, mark my words. Maybe Pythagorean Phil is in the cards for a different poorly run midwestern franchise. One can wish.

Southeast Division:

Washington Bullets

The Bullets weren’t able to do much maneuvering this off-season besides re-signing Otto Porter, but John Wall’s massive extension and Brad Beal entering the season in good health is more than this sad franchise’s fan base could have ever asked for. Truly, the only question worth asking of the Bullets is whether or not they can trade Otto Porter and an ounce of reggie for Boogie. If I were the Pelicans I’d obviously hold out for a basketball beaver, but if an offer of that magnitude doesn’t materialize, then fuck it. If Boogie is going leave anyways, then why not trade him for a promising wing player on a long contract that you can hold prisoner, ahem, I mean pair with Anthony Davis? Maybe the Pels can get Gortat in the trade as well and have Davis learn the art of durability from a man that is essentially chiseled goulash with creepy facial hair.

Prediction: The Bullets snag the 2 seed in the East after trading for Boogie. Beal’s game looks like that of a basketball beaver despite being more of a squirrel. John Wall breaks the sound barrier multiple times on fast breaks. Boogie accrues so many technical that he is suspended from the East Finals and for the first 25 games of next season. Ian Mahinmi farts and shatters his pelvis and never plays basketball again.

hex 20

Lil’ B Hex Meter: 20/100, Yet another sad franchise whose history of despair and habitual underachievement should render them untouchable to the Based God. But my gut says that there is a small chance that Boogie possesses voodoo powers and at some point poses a threat to Lil’ B’s legacy when he attempts to curse the Cavs. Not one to be one-upped by any one, especially in the arts of Cursery, Lil’ B casts a hex that leads to Boogie’s final tech of the season.

Miami Heat

Eric Spoelstra got way too much credit last year for coaching this team to the 9th seed in the East. That said, I love this roster, as it’s the NBA equivalent of the Bad News Bears (Matthau not Billy Bob). James Johnson is the enforcer Whiteside should be and Josh Richardson, Dion Waiters, and Goran Dragic make up a sneaky good backcourt rotation. Few things would make me happier than watching Dion Waiters torch the league and become an All-Star, but something tells me that paying Waiters in the off-season is a lot like feeding a Gremlin after midnight.

Prediction: Pat Riley obliterates his previous record of 15 gallons of pomade used over the course of the season and finally reveals where Jimmy Hoffa is buried. Meanwhile, Spoelstra’s hair continues to be unwashed for the entirety of another season. Whiteside blocks 50% of Twitter after being repeatedly destroyed by Joel Embiid. Whiteside goes into witness protection but Riley finds him and Whiteside is never seen again. DJ Khaled starts at point guard for the Heat for half the season in return for giving back Spoelstra’s son.

hex 0

Lil’ Hex Meter: 0/100, Pat Riley is 100% in the mafia and Lil’ B ain’t fucking with that.

Charlotte Hornets

The early loss of Batum hurts the Hornets’ chances of sneaking up the standings early in the season. Dwight Howard is maybe the only player in the league who needs more psychiatric help than Durant and his psychosis rears its head at some point. Malik Monk starts the season shooting 0-150 but then shoots 150-150. Michael Jordan bets wrong on every single NBA game of the season.

Prediction: Michael Jordan sells the team to a shell company owned by Pat Riley to pay off his gambling debts to the mafia. Riley uses the Hornets as a farm team for a few seasons before being tried and convicted for the 2007 shooting of Lil’ Wayne’s tour bus. Dwight Howard punts an elderly usher into the nosebleeds after the usher, whose name is Myran, slaps Dwight’s butt and tells him good game when he definitely had a very bad game. Despite all this, the Hornets grab the 5th seed. Frank Kaminsky tests positive for ketamine and is sent to rehab in Miami.

hex 0

Lil’ B Hex Meter: 0/100, Few things are stronger than a Lil’ B curse, but one of those things is the stench of Dwight Howard. Nothing derails team chemistry and Dwight once again fucks up yet another franchise all on his own.

Disney Magic

Speaking of teams that Dwight Howard ruined! The Magic are a pathetic excuse of an organization but now that they have a new President and GM maybe things will turn around. Hopefully things don’t and the team gets moved to Seattle, because why the hell would Orlando have an NBA franchise? On an individual basis I like a lot of the players on this team, but together they seem incredibly incompetent.

Prediction: Disney execs poison the entire roster a la Snow White and bring Disney characters in to fill the roster and drive sales. Sleepy the dwarf runs the point and is particularly effective in pick n rolls with Goofy, who is the rim running and shot blocking phenom the Magic had hoped Biyombo would be. Rattigan develops into a bruising power forward and leads the league in rebounds and is only second to Boogie in technical fouls. Despite tangible improvement with the Disney characters, the Magic win only one game more than the Hawks and are moved to Seattle.

hex 100

Lil’ B Hex Meter: 100/100, What kind of sick fuck would curse a team starting five Disney characters? Lil’ B, that’s who! Citing a lack of diversity on the roster and the persistent portrayal of antiquated gender norms in both their films and the sidelines (Pocahontas and Mulan are made cheerleaders despite both having purer three point mechanics than Steph Curry), Lil’ B kills the franchise with the Fantasia of all curses.

Atlanta Hawks

Congrats to anyone who has made it this far. You can stop reading now, as we’ve reached the Hawks, who are going to be the worst team in the league this year despite Gar Forman’s best efforts. So instead of running down the obvious, I leave you with this video of a Gospel Choir signing player intros for the Hawks.

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