Yuck... The Bobcats posted an historically bad -15.5 differential last season. My model has them improving only +0.6 (which would be a significant bump for most teams) leaving them in historically bad territory for another season. Gerald Henderson's 0 rating is the only non-negative score on the team.
Orlando gave away the 2nd best basketball player in the world for: 0 positive value veterans, 0 cap relief, 0 legitimate prospects, and 0 unprotected picks. That alone is difficult to wrap my mind around, but they also managed to jettison their only other decent player (Ryan Anderson) for a budget big (Gustavo Ayon).
By all rights the Magic should be the worst team in the league. Hell.. they managed to field a team without a single above average player! Unfortunately for them, Charlotte has the edge in the "Nerlens Noel Hi-Top Sweepstakes" thanks to their veteran tanking experience.
Nothing special, but at least Washington is trying to field a basketball team. Nene for McGee was a steal, and Okafor (as long as you don't look at his counterpart defense numbers) was a nice pickup. Wall still needs to figure out how to use his athleticism on defense, but fills the role of top offensive player nicely.
The Wiz are a playoff team in the East if they stop wasting good minutes on Jordan Crawford and this could happen if Beal hits the ground running (unlikely). It is also nice to see Seraphin and Singleton panning out as solid rotation players.
Teague, Lou, Korver, Smith, Horford is a nice starting five. Throw in Harris and Zaza and the Hawk's top-7 (what actually matters come playoff time) is actually pretty dangerous. This team isn't a contender, but they will make the playoffs and should at least make their opponent sweat in the opening round.
None of the non-Heat players in the East rate three standard deviations above average. Wade scores three SDs and LeBron scores five SDs!
Not much to say about the Heat. I don't think the Ray Allen signing will prove to be very important, but with LeBron, Wade, and Bosh it doesn't need to be. If the trio is healthy, the Heat will be easy favorites to win the East. That means a repeat is absolutely doable, however I don't love the Heat's odds against some of the more complete teams in the West.
Next up: The Southwest Division