Poll: Which Lottery-Bound Eastern Team Has Brightest Future?

The Eastern Conference playoff picture hasn’t been entirely set yet, but at this point, it seems unlikely that a team outside of the top eight will crash the party. The 25-32 Magic, who currently hold the No. 8 seed, are far from untouchable, but they still hold a 4.5-game lead on any of the conference’s also-rans.

That means the Wizards, Bulls, Hornets, Pistons, Knicks, Hawks, and Cavaliers will likely finish the year in the lottery. Our Community Shootaround discussion today centers on which of these clubs is best positioned going forward.

Of those teams, only the Pistons weren’t also in the lottery a year ago. But much has changed since then. Longtime cornerstones Reggie Jackson and Andre Drummond are gone, and Detroit only has a 2023 second-round pick to show for it. Blake Griffin, who had one of the best years of his career in 2018/19, has barely played this season due to health issues. The Pistons are headed for a full-fledged rebuild, and while there are some promising young players in the mix, including Luke Kennard, Sekou Doumbouya, and Sviatoslav Mykhailiuk, it will likely be a long process.

The Wizards, like the Pistons, still have an injured veteran star (John Wall) occupying a major chunk of their cap. Unlike Detroit though, Washington is potentially in position to get back into the playoff mix when that star returns next season. Bradley Beal has taken his game to another level in recent years, and the Wizards have unearthed some productive role players like Thomas Bryant and Moritz Wagner to go along with prospects such as Rui Hachimura and Troy Brown. The team also wants to re-sign Davis Bertans this summer.

The Bulls and Hawks entered the season as popular sleeper picks to challenge for the postseason in the East. That hasn’t happened though. While Zach LaVine has looked better than ever in Chicago, the Bulls haven’t gotten the production they expected out of recent lottery picks like Lauri Markkanen and Wendell Carter Jr., who has once again dealt with injuries.

Atlanta, meanwhile, saw its season derailed early by John Collins‘ 25-game PED suspension. Trae Young has become one of the league’s best offensive players, but the young supporting cast still isn’t ready to contend. Both the Bulls and Hawks have some cap flexibility going forward, but they’ll need more from their young building blocks in order to take a real step forward.

The Knicks and Hornets have been plagued by cap mismanagement in recent years and have lacked a true superstar. Both teams should have some flexibility this summer and beyond, and young players like Devonte’ Graham, PJ Washington, RJ Barrett, and Mitchell Robinson have promise. But it would definitely be premature to pencil in any of those players as perennial All-Stars — the management groups in New York and Charlotte will need to keep looking for potential high-end talent.

As for the Cavaliers, you could make the case that their 2019/20 season has been the worst of any of these teams. Newly-hired head coach John Beilein lasted just 54 games, veteran players like Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson have been disgruntled, and neither Collin Sexton nor Darius Garland looks like a lock for stardom. Kevin Porter Jr. has exceeded expectations and the Cavs will have some contracts coming off the books this offseason, but Love’s massive deal and the decision to acquire Drummond complicates their cap outlook going forward.

What do you think? Which combination of core players, front office personnel, and future cap flexibility would give you the most confidence if you had to pick one of these seven Eastern Conference teams? Which one do you think has the brightest outlook beyond this season?

Vote below in our poll, then head to the comment section to share your thoughts!

Trade Rumors app users, click here to vote.

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61 thoughts on “Poll: Which Lottery-Bound Eastern Team Has Brightest Future?

  1. JonnyLucas

    This one seems a no brainer to me. In a superstar driven league, only one of those teams has a guy.

    • shmurdascene

      Two of these teams have superstars. The Wizards (Beal and Wall) and Cavs (Drummond and Love).

  2. coldbeatle89

    Hawks with a LARGE lead early on. Out of all of these teams, they probably have the best pieces that are young and talented in order to compete. They also have major Flexibility, and another high lottery pick this year.

  3. bobulated

    Agree on Hawks. Cam Reddish has really come on since the new year and getting the Dedmon/Capela combo at the 5 sets them up well for next season as well as continued growth from Collins and Young.

  4. Bc1219

    Not only do the hawks have Trae Young, they also have john Collins who is great too. They just got Clint Capela, and the rest of the team is full of young future players

  5. fishy 9 dogs

    Hawks first.
    Timberwolves have two young all-stars in place, as well as Beasley. If they can make the right moves this summer, I think the wolves have a bright future. Rosas has done an excellent job shaping this roster so far.

    • FromTheCheapSeats

      Doesn’t it seem like they’ve ALWAYS had two young stars?

      I just don’t know how Minnesota can be perpetually “close”.

      I like what’s going on in Charlotte. A lot of kids are getting good minutes. I still don’t love the Rozier signing, but they’ve got a group they can keep together for four or five years. If one of these young wing players can become a top shelf scorer, and Hornets could get over the hump.

      • HoopsR

        I absolutely second this. No one needs people like that commenting on their site.

    • x%sure

      Shawn Hemp makes useful additions but IDK what got deleted. Maybe he just needs modded.

      • Willing to bet the Dwayne Wade comment about him and his son has something to do with it. Whole comment/reply thread got deleted, altho this was expected cause after reading what he said I kinda just dropped expletives in the replies to get things moving lols. but im not the steve in question obviously so idk really lols.

  6. Knicks not even in the top three? Pathetic. Where is the troll vote where is the troll vote? But nah we’re gonna usurp the wizards here closin in.

    • All American Johnsonville Dogs

      Wizards don’t have James Dolan as owner. That alone puts them ahead of the Knicks.

      Plus wizards can cash in on Bradley Beal and trade him in the off season for picks players or both to build a competitor.

      • Its already done, facts be damned. But whats this? The Pistons pullin ahead into 4th? They night be the only team with less promising future then the sad knicks. That core has alotta promise i bet, but it just cant sing. Gimme barrett, mitchell, and uh oh god nevermind lols.

        • Actually nah gimme frank + the aforementioned over the Pistons trio. Haven’t seen the rookie play yet i hope the Man D is stout.

          kennard prob has a lower ceiling then barrett, same for mitchell over mikhailyk or however you spell it. Frank can play good d, not much else, but the rookie isnt lighting it up either. Better rebounding.

  7. Hawks and it isn’t close.
    Trae is on the cusp on becoming a superstar, his team has John Collins who continues to improve all the time, they just traded to Capela to fill the hole they have had at centre for years. He also helps fix that defence.

    Then at SG and SF you have Hueter, Reddish and Hunter plus you have another top pick in this years draft. Anthony Edwards could be a good back court side kick for Young. If they kiss on him they also have cap space so maybe they look at the price of DeMare DeRozan or Gordan Hayward ..

    The east is very too heavy with good teams like the Sixers, Celtics, Raptors, Bucks and Heat. Then it drops off to two nice team with the Nets and Pacers which leaves 1 easy playoff spot open and next year that’ll be the hawks

    • JD Candello

      Hayward is going to be celtic next year

      Not sure Derozan fits -Personally I would want to wait another year and see if i could really score in the 2021 big class of free agents with that money- I know its a risk but so is sinking your cap into DD

      • Can always overpay DeRozan and give him a 2 year deal with a team option the second year

        • JD Candello

          In theory you could but that would mean disregarding actually said player DD getting paid a little thing called lifetime money-

          Hes not signing a 1 and 1 in an off-season like this, hes fully cashing in every red cent!

        • He could do but there’s no guarantees. If you can’t draft Anthony Edwards Id be looking at Deni Avdija or what you can get trading down.
          If you trade down then I’d throw DD the 1+1 offer

  8. ChiSoxCity

    Chicago should be a Mecca of basketball, with the Jordan legend and ravenous sports fans who sellout the stadium for decades. Instead we have an indifferent owner and incompetent front office running the Bulls into the ground. It is now a dead franchise. Dead.

    • tomjoadsghost

      Totally agree. They will reshuffle the front office and get of rid Boylen that’s about it. Boylen ran the Utah program into the ground too. Guy has zero credibility as a coach, players see through his fake tough guy routine.

      • stevep-4

        Noooo. Boylen is da man. Bulls are on the verge of the edge of contending with 5 other teams for the last playoff spot. And you call that running the team into the ground? They got Zach da man Lavine, Laurie da man Markannen and Adam da man Mokoka.

  9. Why are the wizards running beal out there 36 a night? I’m all for it when your competing but theyre not. Its cool to run him out and see if he performs better then usual for trade value purposes. But when your hittin 2’s at a league average rate and 3’s slightly below average (for a wing) well we know how you average 30 a game. Roll him back to 32mpg hes been injured in the past lose more games, and he may perform better.

    They clearly plan to just pick up where they left off with wall and beal retooled with hopefully bertans, plus wagner and rui. And whoever they draft

  10. Jake1972

    The Bulls have White and LaVine with Carter to build around but the coaching is so horrible that what is a promising team look like a bunch of decent bench players.

    Front Office need to cleaned out and the Coaching Staff should be fired.

    I actually believe the Bulls are talented and should have been in the hunt for a playoff spot!

    • ChiSoxCity

      The NBA is a superstar league. The Bulls have zero super stars, so they have nothing to “build around”. To top it off, Jerry Reinsdorf has generated so much ill-will that nobody who matters wants to play for him. This is what happens when you let “suits” make all the (bad) decisions; mediocre hiring and drafting for decades.

    • shmurdascene

      White and Lavine are not players you build around. Lavine is a glorified role player who sucks on defense. White too but at least he’s a rookie so maybe he’ll get better. The Bulls need to trade Lavine and start the rebuild over from scratch. Getting rid of Boylen alone wont help, this roster sucks.

      • There are many that will disagree with you on LaVine. If others feel the same as you the Bulls definitely should have pulled the trigger on the rumored LaVine for Kuzma swap. They would have saved a time of money and commitment. But again Ibtiink you are in the extreme minority on your feelings about LaVine.

        • shmurdascene

          Definitely not in the “extreme minority” in Chicago. The media and fans of other teams seem to love Zach but Bulls fans who watch every game know better. Zach Lavine puts up good stats on a bad team. His attempts at hero ball have directly cost the Bulls several winnable games. He’s a slasher who sucks on defense which is half the game.

          A trade for Kuzma wouldn’t make much sense for the Bulls. I don’t think Kuzma’s any better than Lavine, and what we need is a first round pick from a team whose worse than us. Cleveland, Atlanta, Golden State, etc. Or a superstar. My idea was Lavine and Dunn to the 76ers for Ben Simmons. I don’t think the Sixers would do it at the moment, but if they get embarrassed in the playoffs, maybe they’d consider it.

          • I’ve watched enough to know LaVine is more than a role player, as you suggested. I think he’d be better off in a third option type role, that doesn’t mean role player to me. LaVine isn’t giving full effort on defense, no argument there. However he is a young player on a bad team, the tools are there just not desire. Same answer for hero ball, young talented player on a bad team. I see you mentioned slasher, which he is! However you left out shooter, which he is also.

            I think LaVine is better than Kuzma. Brought that up because of the rumored trade. My point is if the Bulls front office thinks the same as you do if LaVine, that wouldn’t be a bad deal because Kuzma does not carry the contractual commitment, even if he has less overall talent.

            At the end of the day, I think LaVine May be better than what you’re giving him credit for. That just my opinion. It’s also my opinion that with some of the things I’m seeing from him, he’d improve dramatically on a veteran team where he wasn’t the player. Th Lakers would be a great fit for him. May need to get a 3rd team involved, to get you a pick you desire.

            My Hawks? They should have interest! But not at the cost of a top 5 pick, Reddish, Young, or Collins. All those should be kept.

            I like the Ben Simmons idea! Let me rephrase, I love the Ben Simmons idea. I love it for a lot of teams though as he needs a change of scenery. The 76ers should have interest in LaVine, I just think it cost them a first as well LaVine and Dunn. It could be worth it though! I love the fit with Simmons, Mark, and Carter upfront.

            Are the rumors true Carter doesn’t want to play center anymore?

  11. It’s the Hawks, it’s the only team of that group that surprises me that they are not better this year.

    They have the second best player of all of the non-playoff teams (and I could see Young passing Beal), a talented young PF in Collins, shooters like Heurter and Reddish, and now solid big men in Capela/Dedmon. With another good pick and a shrewd signing or two in the offseason, I don’t see how this team is not a 45+ win team next season.

    Knicks should be the team, but all of the cap space went for not this offseason, and will likely do so again this offseason and potentially next until they can prove that they are a stable organization who develops young players and creates an atmosphere that players want to play in.

  12. harden-westbrook-mvps

    Everyone thought the Hawks were going to be a playoff team this year, but they have the league’s 2nd worst record at 17-43. Although they’re really the worst team in the NBA right now for two reasons. Firstly they play in the east, and secondly the Warriors are clearly better than Atlanta when they have a healthy Curry and Klay.

    Plus Clint Capela has to prove he can stay healthy enough to make the Hawks a contender. If he fails to do so then the Rockets will look like geniuses for trading him to get Covington in their small-ball transition.

    • UGA_Steve

      If you are going to use injuries as a factor for GS, then you have to for all the teams. The Hawks have been far better with Collins on the court. I am not trying to compare them to GS with Curry and Klay, but they are clearly better than many teams in the East (though I will readily admit, some of those teams have extinuating circumstances as well). Point being, don’t use records as a judgement for future. A better way of stating might be .. just look how bad the Warriors were for a decade before Curry got there and they STILL stunk the first three years he was there. Would you have said ‘we keep hearing about Steph taking them over the top, but they continual to disappoint’ on that team now? In hindsight, it’s obvious they were close but kept having setbacks.

      I don’t think Trae is even close to Steph, but the supporting cast is as good and young as GS. I see no reason they cannot get there. Trae needs to play with more control (the turnovers must come down), but outside of that, they have the best chance of these teams listed to improve, and quickly.

  13. Hawks are never going be more than a low end playoff team (and that might be a reach) as long as they’re built around T. Young. If that’s a bright outlook, they got a shot.

      • shmurdascene

        If you only care about offense he’s a superstar sure. If you realize basketball is a two way calling Trae Young a superstar is a joke. One of the worst defenders in league, no surprise the Hawks suck.

  14. x%sure

    Atlanta has the talent but it hasn’t happened yet and they will still be young next year. Capela may not add much.

    Cavs have won 3 of 4 & have a better coach.

    Hornets found two keepers in Graham & PJWashington, and seemed to have reversed their drafting ability/luck.

  15. hiflew

    Long term future – Atlanta without a doubt.

    Short term future – Probably Washington if Wall comes back as good as before.

    Worst outlook – Toss up between the Knicks and Hornets. The Hornets draft in the top 10 all the time and most of the time they choose a disappointment. MKG, Marvin Williams, Cody Zeller, Malik Monk…all disappointing. Kemba was probably their only draft pick that exceeded expectations and they lost him for nothing but the chance to overpay Rozier. PJ Washington looks good, but it is still too early to tell. I have almost as little faith in them as the Knicks, but they at least have the allure of the big market. The Hornets have bad management, bad development, and a small market. So I think I have to pick them as the worst.

    • Real 2K Insider

      Marvin Williams wasn’t drafted by the Hornets.

      Zeller was taken 4th in a terrible draft. He was followed by Alex Len, Nerlens Noel, Ben McLemore, KCP, and Trey Burke. Anthony Bennett went #1 and MCW was ROY. Nothing wrong with that pick.

      • hiflew

        Just because it was a weak draft does not make it a good pick.

        You are right about Williams, I forgot about him. Although Charlotte picked Raymond Felton in that same draft, so they actually did even worse.

        And I could also add Frank Kaminsky, Gerald Henderson, Noah Vonleh, and the worst of all, Adam Morrison. But I didn’t really want to pile on. But I guess I will now.

        • Real 2K Insider

          Mitch Kupchak is the current GM. His selections:

          Miles Bridges: 12th
          Devontae Graham: 34th (whoops)

          P.J. Washington: 12th
          Cody Martin: 36th
          Jalen McDaniels: 52nd

          Doesn’t really make sense to harp on guys drafted 15 years ago.

          • hiflew

            They had the same ownership. What doesn’t make sense is to think that the GM has 100% carte blanche when it comes to building the team.

        • shmurdascene

          Raymond Felton was way better than Marvin Williams. How Marvin Williams is still in the NBA but Josh Smith and Joe Johnson aren’t is a joke.

          The Hornets haven’t done well in the draft outside of Kemba Walker, that I agree with. Their future doesn’t look very good, but at least with Rozier, Graham, and Washington, they have a better looking future than the Bulls and probably the Knicks.

  16. I’m loving what the Cavs have done recently. By playing Nance at the three,Love at the 4 and TT at the 5 that outs KPJ at the 2 and Garland at the 1 suddenly have height they didn’t before.

    That brings Cedi and Sexton off the bench for instant points with Drummond guarding the paint.

    It’s gotten them a 4 of 5 games in the last 5 games.

  17. MrWood

    It should be Wizards.. they’ve got the best asset in Beal. They should be able to pull off a great trade in their favor. Then use all those picks in 20’ & 21’ to build around Rui, Bertans, Bryant. Now gotta get John Wall horrible contract off books which might be biggest issue unless he gets back to shape then showcase him next year and dump him for more picks.

    • stevep-4

      Send Wall to the Knicks for all their prospects. Works in the trade machine.

      • shmurdascene

        Why would the Wizards trade their best player of the decade who was still an all-star caliber player the last time he was healthy, for a bunch of worthless prospects? Why would the Knicks trade for John Wall’s huge contract which would limit their potential to properly rebuild? Horrible idea.

  18. kyleallen

    If the Hawks can get Anthony Edwards they should draft him but if he is off the board I personally think it would be more beneficial for them to trade their pick. The Hawks already have so many young guys like Trae, Hunter, Reddish, Huerter, Collins, so a more veteran presence would be a better fit. Package of their pick and Cam Reddish for Bradley Beal or CJ McCollum would be interesting, they could use another guy who can handle the ball and take some pressure off of Trae Young.

    • MrWood

      Could keep their pick and trade Young + Reddish for Beal.. then get the dumbass Knicks on like one and swap slots, pick up a 2R in 21’ draft.. then get a pass first point. Like Mannion for example.

      Mannion-Beal-Hueter-Collins-Capela… not enough shots with Trae around to co-exist with Beal + Collins. IMO

      • shmurdascene

        No way the Wizards would make that trade they are hoping to make the playoffs next year with Beal & Wall why trade Beal for a small point guard whose even worse on defense.

  19. The Hawks have the brightest future at the moment. As mentioned they have Trae and John already. Capela is not a star, but don’t undermine his value. He should provide defense, rebounding, and toughness. If Healthy, and that’s the only issue with him.

    If the Hawks can land Weismann in the draft, they should run to the podium! Weismann will take minutes at the 5 and 4 immediately. Edwards while talented, is not going to take minutes from Reddish nor Hunter! Yes I’m saying it, they are better than Edwards at the moment, espy defensively. If the Hawks are willing to play Edwards off the bench, then he is the sure fire second choice for then. He will take minutes from Huerter.

    If anyone listened to me at the beginning of the season it was utterly ridiculous to predict the Hawks yo be in the playoffs this year. Next season they will be in the playoffs. Chi has a boarder Lind Superstar in LaVine, white has to get it together as the talent is there. mark has been disappointing along with the over rated Carter! Carter will be solid in an Al Horford type way. He’s just not the stair fans try to make him! Much like Al Horford.

    • x%sure

      Interesting comparison between Horford and Carter. Both had fathers who played pro ball in Dominican Republic, and presumably were raised in some comfort. Carter was shooting 3s more often, at 36%, before he got injured. DXC thinks Horford still has positive trade value.

      • x%sure

        Not a lot of comfort necessarily; IDK that much. Say, middle class & some discipline.

  20. shmurdascene

    Who are all these people voting for the Bulls? The Bulls have easily the worst future in the entire NBA right now. 3 years into the rebuild and they have no superstar, no all-star caliber player, no direction and the worst “culture” in the league. Replacing the coach will not be enough to turn this team around. The Bulls need to trade Lavine and start a new rebuild. Otherwise the only future they have is the number 7 pick in the draft year after year.

    The team on this list with the brightest future is easily the Wizards. They have two superstars and would easily be the 7th or 8th seed right now if John Wall was healthy. When they get him back next season and if Rui Hachimura takes the next step, they are clearly a playoff team next year. None of the other teams on this list have much chance at all to make the playoffs this year or next.

    The Cavs at least have one of the most underrated players in the league in Drummond, but they need to surround him with a lot more talent, it will be interesting to see what they get for Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson when they finally do trade them.

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