The East remains The Least. It is no deeper than it was the past. The difference between this season and previous seasons is geography.
The power base has shifted from the warm beaches of sunny Miami to the icy shores of Lake Erie.
In a single move, the return of All-Universe forward LeBron James, Cleveland is the most interesting team in the league. That's the power of LeBron.
In a resounding by-product, the acquisition of All-Star power forward Kevin Love, the Cavaliers are a very real championship threat. That, too, is the power of LeBron.
With James and Love joining Kyrie Irving to form the most talented trio in the league, Cleveland suddenly has gone from bust to boom.
Is it enough to ensure a title?
Hardly. But it had better lead to nothing less than a trip to the NBA Finals.
Here is our Eastern Conference breakdown for 2014-15:
1 – Cavaliers. With a new core and a new coach, the internationally renowned David Blatt, they are bound to have some curious moments. There could be some disappointment in the early weeks. But the talent is too good to hold down and the potential is off the charts. Win total: 64.
2 – Bulls. Derrick Rose is back and he looks awesome. Can it continue? If it doesn't, Chicago weeps and plummets. If it does, the Bulls could approach 60 wins. Adding Pau Gasol to the core of Joakim Noah and Rose makes this bunch the biggest threat to the Cavs. Win total: 58.
3 – Raptors. The core – Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan and Jonas Valanciunas – is quite good and young enough to get appreciably better. They figured out how good they can be last year and now realize they can play with any team. Win total: 51.
4 – Wizards. There's a lot to like here, particularly the John Wall/Bradley Beal guard duo. Will big man Marcin Gortat play up to his handsome new contract? Depends on the night. Will Paul Pierce be too old to help? Depends on the night. Win total: 49.
5 – Bobcats. Al Jefferson is a low-post beast. Lance Stephenson is an absurdly talented loose cannon. Kemba Walker still is figuring it out but can play. If it's true that Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has added a jumper, look out. Win total: 47.
6 – Heat. The loss of LeBron is huge, but there remains plenty of talent. Dwyane Wade will be superb, if not every night. Chris Bosh will bounce back. Luol Deng is a nice addition. With Pat Riley in charge, don't sleep on the Heat. Win total: 46.
7 – Knicks. Putting Carmelo Anthony in the triangle is like putting peanut butter in chili. There will be nights when Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson and Knicks fans will want to puke. There will be other nights when they smile about being in the East. Win total: 42.
8 – Hawks. This could easily be the Pistons or the Bucks. But a solid coach, Mike Budenholzer, and the return of Al Horford send me to this bunch. They have some off-the-field baggage, but somebody has to get that last playoff spot. Win total: 41.
Pistons: There is some talent. Stan Van Gundy will make them better. They could sneak in.
Bucks: Jason Kidd will have some rough moments. He'll also have the PYG (Promising Young Greek) Giannis Antetokounmpo.
Nets: Lionel Hollins is a solid, experienced coach with an old, old core. Good luck getting this group to play defense.
Pacers: Call me when Roy Hibbert finds courage. I'll pick up when Paul George returns to the lineup.
Magic: Channing Frye had shopping options. He chose money and weather. He clearly wasn't seeking jewelry.
Celtics: Rajon Rondo might want to call Raiders safety Charles Woodson for tips on surviving a dreadful situation.
76ers: Hang in there, Philly. You're only four years away from rejoining the NBA.
Overrated: David West, Pacers. And I remember when Mr. Tough Guy was underrated. Edges out Knicks star Carmelo Anthony because, well, there are a few nights when 'Melo is the best player on the floor.
Underrated: Jefferson, Bobcats. Everybody knows how good he is but nobody talks about how good he is. Edges out Raptors big man Valanciunas, who will be a star if he doesn't ruin it for himself.
Player to watch: Antetokounmpo. That there is difficultly pronouncing his surname works against him. Only 19, he has the potential to be uniquely superb.