Ranking Every NBA Eastern Conference Team Post-Free Agency

A week after free agency opened up and rosters were altered, we surveyed all 15 teams in the Eastern Conference that upgraded its overall talent level.

Jimmy Butler Bam Adebayo Head Butt 2021

SACRAMENTO, CALIFORNIA - FEBRUARY 18: Teammates Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo #13 of the Miami Heat touch heads before tip off in the game against the Sacramento Kings at Golden 1 Center on February 18, 2021 in Sacramento, California. NOTE TO USER: (Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images)

Jimmy Butler Bam Adebayo Head Butt 2021

If tampering is what is required to take the next step, and all it ends up costing you is a fine and maybe some future draft picks that won’t affect this year’s squad, then that’s just the price of doing business in the NBA. Especially in the Eastern Conference.

According to a recent ESPN report, the league is looking into whether Miami and Chicago allegedly violated protocols and started courting Kyle Lowry and Lonzo Ball, respectively, earlier than is allowed. Teams aren’t supposed to chat up free agents until a designated start time (specifically that was 6 p.m. ET, August 2nd), but when news starts flying on Twitter that highly prized players are signing with new squads seconds after said start we all know something has been in the works for more than a hot minute.

Fans don’t care about tampering and nor, apparently, do most teams in the NBA if we’re being real. Longtime NBA reporter Marc Stein laid out some tampering truths the other day that’s worth a read. After the Bulls and Heat significantly upped their talent level, I highly doubt that either squad, if found guilty, will regret the modest punishment likely to be handed down by the league. Both teams drastically improved their lot in a conference that made big strides in free agency. The East is no longer the “Leastern Conference.” In fact, it arguably hasn’t been this stacked in years. 

Over a week after free agency opened up and rosters were altered—legally or by the book—it’s worth surveying all 15 teams and putting them in some kind of order well before training camps open in the fall. Rest assured there was no tampering with our order—we played by the rules—and there’s a decent chance the rankings could look different just before the season tips. That’s because there’s still one big roster move a particular squad seemingly has to make that would yet again alter the competitive landscape of the East.


2. Nets

Kevin Durant Blake Griffin Kyrie Irving Nets Mavericks 2021

3. Bucks

Giannis Antetokounmpo Jrue Holiday NBA Finals Game 3 2021

4. Heat

Bam Adebayo Duncan Robinson Heat Nets 2021

5. Hawks

Trae Young Hawks 76ers Logo 2021

6. 76ers

ben simmons

7. Celtics

Jaylen Brown Jayson Tatum Celtics Pelicans 2021

8. Knicks

RJ Barrett Julius Randle Knicks Hawks Playoffs 2021

9. Bulls

Zach LaVine Bulls Dunk 2021

10. Pacers

Domantas Sabonis Pacers Logo 2021

11. Hornets

LaMelo Ball Hornets Three 2021

12. Wizards

bradley beal nets

13. Raptors

Fred VanVleet Pascal Siakam Raptors Blazers 2021

14. Pistons

Cade Cunningham Pistons 75 Draft 2021

15. Cavaliers

Kevin Love Cavaliers Pistons 2021

16. Magic

Adam Silver Jalen Suggs NBA Draft 2021

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