What Every Eastern Contender Should Target This Trade Season
The NBA All-Star game is now officially over and now comes the dreaded week after marked with the trade deadline. As a contending for a championship team, you always want to improve and tweak your roster for the stretch run of the regular season and finals. Let’s take a look at what each of the legitimate contending teams in the eastern conference. These are mostly the teams that are in championship or bust mode and have the record to prove it. Keep in mind not every playoff team is a contender, especially with the East on a down note this year.
Cleveland has really picked up its play after a very rough start to the season that included multiple losing streaks. The Cavs have made some nice moves of late to solidify their bench. This includes the blockbuster that sent out Dion Waiters and yielded them guards Iman Shumpert and JR Smith, each that, when locked in, can be instant offense with good defensive potential. They also swung a great deal for a center in Timofey Mozgov who actually has turned out better than expected. However, they still lack a backup big that can play defense and get rebounds with Anderson Varejao out the season and Tristian Thompson simply not producing this year. Another area of upgrade should be at backup point to not have such a considerable drop off when Kyrie Irving is off the floor.
The Bulls are coming on as of late and that’s because they are finally finding some shooters. Still, the starting 3 spot continues to be an area of concern. Can you really win a championship if Mike Dunleavy is starting in the frontcourt? More than likely no. Another position is backup power forward, specifically a big that could stretch the floor with shooting range. They have needed a stretch 4 for some time now and although they have rookie sensation Nikola Mirotic they have been playing him largely at the 3 spot.
The Wizards have one of the best starting five’s in the league but struggle to score with their second unit. The backup front court is pretty deep but the front court needs work. The backup guards Andre Miller and Garret Temple simply do not cut it sometimes. Look for the Wizards to land a better back up to star John Wall at the point position this week.
The Hawks are the most surprising team in the league this year after jumping out to the best record in the conference. The one area they need to improve right now however is to get some size to matchup better with the bigger teams (such as Washington and Memphis). Al Horford and Paul Millsap simply need backup help to play defense on bigger bodies and sometimes, their famous zone defenses can only do so much. Other than that the first place Hawks are really stocked at each position, think of them as the Spurs of the Eastern Conference.
The lone Canadian team is playing very well of late. They do however lack a legitimate starting power forward. With all due respect to James Johnson, they need an upgrade at the position if they want to truly contend. By upgrading and moving Johnson to an energy bench role they would really start to get some legitimate buzz. Another point of concern is a scoring wing since former lottery pick Terrence Ross has struggled mightily this season to shoot and get to the rim.
Obviously not every one of these needs can be meet by these Eastern teams. For some contenders, they’ll just have to role with the team they already have. It still is good to point out needs however, for because come playoff time they will only be scrutinized to a larger degree. That change can start at this trade deadline for these teams, whether they chose to mix up their rosters of not.
*Predictions made by Albert Luna on February 17th.*