The post-2024 All-Star break Eastern Conference NBA power rankings

Who are the favorites to make it out of the East after the NBA All-Star break? We re-rank every playoff contender's title chances ahead of the final push to the postseason.
Miami Heat v Boston Celtics
Miami Heat v Boston Celtics / Maddie Schroeder/GettyImages
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Indianapolis’ NBA All-Star Weekend is over, but we still have a few days before the season resumes, so this is a good time to zoom out and take stock of where the Miami Heat rank among playoff hopefuls in the Eastern Conference. 

I ranked the 11 teams with a realistic shot of making the playoffs (apologies to Toronto, Charlotte, Washington and Detroit). This is a subjective list and not based on the current standings or sportsbook odds.

Let’s start at the bottom of the playoff rung and work our way up to the team that should be considered the no-brainer favorite to make it out of the East for the second time in–well, you’ll just have to read on and see.

Last gasp

11. Brooklyn Nets

Record: 21-33; Net rating: minus-2.3

The Nets should be much better, but they’re not. Most of the blame is on the defense. We knew this team would struggle to generate non-Cam Thomas points but, with this personnel, they should legitimately be a top-10 defense. Instead, they rank 21st – worse than the Kings, Mavericks and Warriors by allowing 116.8 points every 100 possessions. Parting with Royce O’Neale and Spencer Dinwiddie at the trade deadline won’t make this team any better. 

It’s fair to wonder what Brooklyn's plan is. The main pieces they brought back in the James Harden, Kyrie Irving, and Kevin Durant trades are not rebuilding-aged: Mikal Bridges, Cameron Johnson, and Ben Simmons are all 27, and Dorian Finney-Smith is 30. If the Nets were competing for a playoff spot, it would make sense to add to this core, but this season showed they’re not good enough to be considered a piece away.

10. Atlanta Hawks

Trae Young
Chicago Bulls v Atlanta Hawks / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Record: 24-31; Net rating: minus-2.4

The vibes are off in Atlanta and now rumors are starting to swirl about Trae Young’s future with the Hawks. This is not a team, just from a karma perspective, that seems destined to make an extended playoff run.

After 2021’s surprising run to the conference finals, Young’s Hawks haven’t made it out of the first round in the last two years and are in danger of missing the playoffs altogether this season. The Young-era Hawks may have run it’s course. 

What could they get for Young if they traded him this summer? The Lakers could offer three first-round picks, Austin Reaves and some other salary filler. Is that moving the needle? The Spurs reportedly had conversations with the Hawks about Young before the deadline. Do first-round picks and Devin Vassell or Keldon Johnson whet Atlanta’s appetite?

9. Chicago Bulls

DeMar DeRozan
Chicago Bulls v Atlanta Hawks / Kevin C. Cox/GettyImages

Record: 26-29; Net rating: minus-1.4

They might as well change the team name to the Nowheresville Bulls, because that’s where they’ve been for the last decade. The last time the Bulls won 60% of their games was the year Jimmy Butler was named the league’s Most Improved Player, in 2014-15.

Bulls fans have been clamoring for a rebuild for years, and the reluctant franchise may finally be forced to do it. The Bulls were unsuccessful in finding a deal for Zach LaVine at the trade deadline, but they are likely to try again this summer. DeMar DeRozan will be a free agent and could leave to help a contender. 

If the Bulls were forward-looking, they’d build around Coby White and Patrick Williams and deal other veterans like Alex Caruso and Nikola Vucevic for rebuilding fuel this summer. Bulls fans are holding their breath.