Culture of Hoops

2020-21 NBA Eastern Conference X-Factors

Check out our other NBA season predictions below.

Top Five NBA Title Contenders for the 2020-21 Season

2020-21 NBA Western Conference X-Factors

2020-21 NBA Eastern Conference X-Factors

2020-21 NBA Breakout Candidates

2020-21 NBA Rookie Breakout Candidates

Five Sleeper Teams for the 2020-21 NBA Season

Can the Los Angeles Clippers Remain Title Contenders?

What to Expect From the Golden State Warriors

Should the Brooklyn Nets Trade For James Harden?

The 2019-20 NBA season was one for the history books. There was the infamous COVID-19 bubble where the Phoenix Suns went undefeated yet didn’t make the playoffs, top teams such as the Milwaukee Bucks were upset early, and the Los Angeles Lakers won the championship to tie the Boston Celtics at 17 for the most in NBA history by a franchise.

Following the crazy playoffs, the offseason got even more hectic with free agency, the draft, and big time trades. With all the moves and teams settling into camp, it’s becoming more and more clear which players are going to help their team get over that hump and one step closer to hoisting up the Larry O’Brien trophy. Now let’s take look at the Eastern Conference X-Factors that should help propel their respective teams to the next level.

Tristan Thompson, Center, Boston Celtics

With Gordon Hayward departing this offseason, the Boston Celtics looked to not only bolster their roster, but add another big to the lineup that will help them in the post. Thus, Tristan Thompson will help the Celtics down on the block alongside Daniel Theis. Thompson was a valuable member of the Cleveland Cavaliers when they made four straight NBA Finals appearances. Even with Thompson missing most of training camp with injury, he should still make an impact to a young and talented Celtics roster.

Kevin Durant, Forward, Brooklyn Nets

Usually a mega-star, such as Kevin Durant, wouldn’t appear on a x-factors list like this. However, given the fact that Durant hasn’t played an NBA game in over 500 days, he belongs here. The big question is how Durant can recover from rupturing his Achilles. Depending on how that situation goes, Durant can turn the Nets into the best team in the Eastern Conference if he returns to his old shape.

Mitchell Robinson, Center, New York Knicks

It would be shocking to see the New York Knicks in the playoffs this upcoming season. It won’t be shocking if Mitchell Robinson was the reason they somehow made it there. Robinson improved from year one to year two, setting an NBA record in field goal percentage, shooting 74.2% from the field all of last season. What didn’t help was him starting being in the starting lineup for only nine games. If Robinson can cut down his foul rate and become a full-time starter, he will make the Knicks significantly better.

Danny Green, Guard, Philadelphia 76ers 

Danny Green adds some veteran leadership and shooting that the Philadelphia 76ers very much need. The three-time champion not only helped the Toronto Raptors win their first championship, but Green also started every game en route to helping LeBron James win his first title with the Los Angeles Lakers. If Green returns to how well he shot with the Raptors, the 76ers can catapult to the top of the East.

Aron Baynes, Center, Toronto Raptors

The Toronto Raptors lost both Serge Ibaka and Marc Gasol in free agency, but recovered nicely with acquiring Aron Baynes. Baynes had the best season of his career last year, even with missing 31 games due to injury. Baynes’ ability to stay healthy is a concern, but if he’s able to put together a full season, Baynes can put the Raptors over the top this season with his ability in the paint and to shoot from deep.

Coby White, Guard, Chicago Bulls

The Chicago Bulls are a young and hungry team that just need to add a few more pieces to the puzzle before they can seriously contend for the title. Coby White can be a big piece to that puzzle. Coming off the bench last year, White showed flashes of being one of the top rookies in the league, dropping over 30 points in three straight games. With the opportunity to start for the Bulls, White can show off his true potential for the Bulls.

Darius Garland, Guard, Cleveland Cavaliers

It’s no secret the Cleveland Cavaliers have struggled since the departure of LeBron James. Since then, the Cavs have been building a roster of young players with high potential who could all be considered x-factors, and older players with great veteran experience. Darius Garland is one of the younger players that stands out most on the roster that could develop into one of the top guards in the league. Should Garland take that next step into his sophomore season, the Cavs can start to trend upwards.

Derrick Rose, Guard, Detroit Pistons

Over the past two years, Derrick Rose has found new life in his career in what has been a roller coaster since becoming the youngest MVP in league history in 2011. The Detroit Pistons struggled greatly last season, but has since added a lot of pieces that can help make the team successful. With his veteran leadership and a spark off the bench, Rose has the opportunity to help the Pistons get back to the playoffs.

Victor Oladipo, Guard, Indiana Pacers

Another interesting choice for this list, Victor Oladipo was able to recover from injury and played in 23 games last season for the Indiana Pacers (including playoffs). With Oladipo at a full 100 percent combined with the pieces Indiana already has, the Pacers are a dangerous team heading into the season.

Jrue Holiday, Guard, Milwaukee Bucks

The Milwaukee Bucks were the best team in the Eastern Conference for the past two seasons, but fell short of reaching the Finals in both years. With time winding down on if Giannis Antetokounmpo stays with the team after this season, the Bucks are in win-now mode. That’s why the addition of Jrue Holiday is so important. Holiday is an upgrade from Eric Bledsoe and adds a better opportunity for the Bucks heading into the 2020-21 season.

Clint Capela, Center, Atlanta Hawks

With the Atlanta Hawks, there are a number of players who can be an X-Factor. Clint Capela is the most intriguing one. Capela was a rising star with the Houston Rockets, a dominant force in the paint. The Rockets traded Capela to the Hawks in a four-team trade, but he hasn’t suited up with the team yet. Now with all the pieces the Hawks have, Capela can be the driving force for the team to make the playoffs for the first time in four seasons.

LaMelo Ball, Guard, Charlotte Hornets

On a team full of x-factors, it will be interesting to see how the Charlotte Hornets use LaMelo Ball with the emergence of guards Devonte’ Graham and Terry Rozier last season. The team, however, is confident the No. 3 pick can thrive right away. Ball has the opportunity to scorch the league and become Rookie of the Year.

Duncan Robinson, Forward, Miami Heat

Duncan Robinson was one of the best three-point shooters in the league last season for the Miami Heat, breaking the franchise’s single season three-pointers made record with 270 made shots. When Robinson was hot, he barely missed. But when he was cold, it wasn’t a pretty sight to see. If Robinson can elevate his game even more this season, there’s no reason why the Heat shouldn’t be back in the Finals.

Markelle Fultz, Guard, Orlando Magic

The career of Markelle Fultz did not get off to a great start. Since the former No. 1 pick left Philadelphia in a trade to the Orlando Magic, Fultz played his best season since joining the league. If Fultz is able to play at the level he did while in college, he can become a staple for the Magic for years to come.

Russell Westbrook, Guard, Washington Wizards 

John Wall was my pick to be the Washington Wizards X-Factor… until he was traded for Russell Westbrook. Westbrook continues to be one of the best players in the NBA, even elevating his game with James Harden next to him in Houston. Now with the Wizards, and playing alongside Bradley Beal and company, if Westbrook is able to mesh with his new teammates, the Wizards can become a dark horse in the East.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

To Top