Sconnie Sports Talk

Eastern Conference: Is your team better than it was five years ago?


Every fan in the NBA hopes to live to see his or her team become an elite one. While some NBA teams have done a tremendous job of improving recently, some can’t seem to get any better, and a few have even gotten worse. So how does your team’s improvement stack up over the last five years? See below for a list that compares the success of the 2010-2011 season to the current state of all Eastern Conference NBA teams.

Atlanta Hawks

Five years ago (2010 record: 44-38): The Hawks on paper seemed like a pretty stacked squad. Joe Johnson, Josh Smith, Jeff Teague, Al Horford and company lead their team to 5th in the East with an appearance in the Eastern Conference semifinals. Overall, the Hawks looked pretty solid in 2010.

This year (2014 record: 60-22): The Hawks exploded this year to become the top team in the East by seven games. This evenly balanced team powered by a more experienced Teague and Horford made it all the way to the conference finals where they were taken out by the Cavs. Great work Atlanta, you definitely beat the curve. Expectations will be quite high in 2015.

Grade: A-

Boston Celtics

Five years ago (2010 record: 56-28): Still in the midst of the Big 3 era, the 2010 Celtics were a team to be reckoned with. Even with their star power from KG, Ray Allen, and Paul Pierce, this team fell to the Miami Heat in the conference semifinals.

This year (2014 record: 40-42): A lot has happened to this team in the last five years. After losing their longtime coach Doc Rivers, their Big 3 and star point guard Rajan Rondo, this team has found itself going through a rebuilding phase. Even though the past five years have been messy, The Celtics are only going up with their young roster and hoard of draft picks. Last year’s playoff berth was a pleasant surprise.

Grade: D+

Brooklyn Nets

Five years ago (2010 record: 25-58): The then struggling New Jersey Nets were in the midst of a pretty long cold streak when they missed the playoffs that year and landed 12th in the East. At least they could not get much worse from here, right?

This year (2014 record: 38-44): While the Nets have made some improvement in the last five years, they have not made the improvement they have spent to make. After moving to Brooklyn, the Nets were revamped. Bringing in Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, along with Brook Lopez developing into an elite NBA center, should have brought this team higher than the 8th spot in the very weak Eastern Conference.

Grade: B-

Charlotte Hornets/Bobcats

Five years ago (2010 record: 34-48): The Hornets were a below-average team with not too bright of a future in 2010. At the very least, they would have a semi-bright future in 2015.

This year (2014 record: 33-49): Somehow, the Hornets have managed to stay a team getting 10th or 11th in the East without making any significant improvements. Keep up the good work, Charlotte.

Grade: C

Chicago Bulls

Five years ago (2010 record: 62-20): MVP Derrick Rose, first place in the East. What else needs to be said? The 2010 bulls were a team on the verge of a championship, they just could not overcome the hurdle of LeBron and the Heat.

This year (2014 record: 50-32): Even though Derrick Rose is clearly not, and most likely never will be, at his MVP level, the Bulls have found their strength from developing two-way star Jimmy Butler, along with the veteran front court of Pau Gasol and Joakim Noah. Rose’s decline keeps this team a step behind LeBron from the top of the East.

Grade: C+

Cleveland Cavaliers

Five years ago (2010 record: 19-63): After going their first year without LeBron, the Cavaliers were in a dark place, finishing last in the East after being a championship contender for many years.

This Year (2014 record: 53-29): Last year for the Cavs was HUGE! Getting back LeBron, moving back to the top of the East, and almost ending the Cleveland sports curse gives this NBA team the best improvement grade possible.

Grade: A+

Detroit Pistons

Five years ago (2010 record: 30-52): Finishing 11th in the East, the Pistons consisted mostly of old and washed up players including, but not limited to: Ben Gordon, Tracy McGrady and Tayshaun Prince. The 2010 Pistons were definitely not the most fun team to root for.

This year (2014 record: 32-50): Finishing 12th in the East this past season, the Pistons are another team that have not even broken above a .400 winning percentage. You might have my sympathy Piston fans, but you will not be receiving a good grade.

Grade: F

Indiana Pacers

Five years ago: (2010 record: 37-45): The 2010 Indiana Pacers, featuring a healthy Danny Granger and an up-and-coming Paul George, were definitely moving in the right direction. Squeaking into the playoffs at the number eight spot, Pacer fans had a lot to look forward to.

This year (2014 record 38-44): Although this past year the Pacers just missed out on the playoffs, the last five years have been pretty solid, especially in the 2013-2014 season when they finished first in the East. With a healthy Paul George this year, the Pacers should definitely be a top-five team in the weak Eastern Conference. Improvement for sure, but not the quantity this organization was expecting.

Grade: B-

Miami Heat

Five years ago (2010 record 58-24): What an offseason the summer of 2010 was for the Miami Heat. After re-signing veteran superstar Dwayne Wade, bringing in All Star power forward Chris Bosh, the Miami heat landed the big one when they signed LeBron James. Even though this team fell short in the finals to the Mavericks, no one doubted that they would dominate the NBA for a few years

This year: (2014 record 37-45): After losing LeBron James before last season, there was only so much the Heat could do. LeBron showed how much he was pulling the team when the Heat dropped to 10th in the East without him. Still, injuries slowed the team’s performance, and there’s still a solid core here. The emergence of Hassan Whiteside could be huge going forward, provided he keeps his emotions in check.

Grade: C

Milwaukee Bucks

Five years ago (2010 record: 35-47): In 2010, it seemed like the Bucks were destined to be a below-average team forever. Perhaps making it into the playoffs here and there, but always losing in the first round.

This year (2014 record: 41-41): Although the Bucks were only a .500 team this past year, fans can’t help but be excited for their future. Jason Kidd showed he has what it takes to make it as a coach in the NBA, and with Jabari Parker coming back for this season, the sky is the limit for this young team.

Grade: A-

New York Knicks

Five years ago (2010 record: 42-40): The Knicks made it into the playoffs again in 2010, and it was only a matter of time before superstars Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire would click along with their surrounding role players, right?

This year (2014 record: 17-65): Turns out the Knicks couldn’t quite figure out how to work with all the talent they have. Will the future be better with the basketball mega-mind Phil Jackson taking the reigns as the new GM? Only time will tell. As for the last five years, well, let’s just not go there.

Grade: D-

Orlando Magic

Five years ago (2010 record: 52-30): Big man Dwight Howard definitely worked some magic in 2010, pulling his team up to the third spot in the conference behind only the Bulls and the Heat. With Howard as the centerpiece, there was no way for the Magic to be anything less than a competitive team.

This year (2014 record: 25-57): Well, no Dwight Howard has meant no playoff appearances for the Magic ever since he left. Perhaps this young team will once get back to the spotlight they were in with Howard, but for now, they are left in rebuilding mode. That said, there are several exciting young players in Orlando now. It will be up to them to take this team back to the Finals, but it will be an uphill climb.

Grade: D

Philadelphia 76ers

Five years ago (2010 record: 41-41): Five years ago, the 76ers were an exactly .500 team. Despite being only a .500 team, the 76ers managed to slip into the playoffs at the seven spot. Upon arriving in the playoffs, the 76ers unsurprisingly fell to the Miami heat in five games. Overall this scrappy squad, led by Elton Brand, Jrue Holiday, and Andre Iguodala, had a  successful year.

This year (2014 record: 18-64): Just from looking at the records, it is clear the 76ers have not gone in the right direction. This extremely young squad, featuring third overall pick Jahlil Okafor, is likely on the rise in the next five years, but in regard to their last five, the 76ers do not receive a passing grade.

 Grade: D-

Toronto Raptors

Five years ago (2010 record: 22-60): 2010 marked a usual year of finishing at the near bottom of the East for the Raptors. Led by a young DeMar DeRozan, this Canadian squad was doing everything they could to compete with the rest of the league.

This year (2014 record: 49-33): Although the Raptors did seem to collapse towards the end of the season and found themselves exiting the playoffs early to the Wizards, things now sure seem a lot better than they did five years ago.

Grade: A-

Washington Wizards

Five years ago (2010 record: 23-59): The 2010 Wizards, led by a developing John Wall, were unable to cast the right spells to succeed in the East and ended up finishing 13th and out of the playoffs.

This year (2014 record: 46-36): This year marked another year the Wizards finished in the four-through-seven range in the East. John Wall and Bradley Beal have developed into one of the top guard combos in the NBA, and the Wizards have seemed to find some success in the playoffs, upsetting both the higher seeded Bulls in 2014 and the Raptors this past season. Whether or not the Wizards have what it takes to get out of that mid-level range remains to be seen.

Grade: B+