John Wall thinks the Wizards can take advantage of LeBron James' absence in the East

LeBron James hegemony over the Eastern conference finally ended this summer after the King took his talents out West to play with the Lakers. 

James Heat and Cavs teams have represented the East in the last eight NBA Finals, but 2019 will finally be the year when a new contender breaks through. 

The Celtics are the clear frontrunners to assume the position of dominance with a loaded young roster and arguably the best head coach in the game in Brad Stevens, but a flurry of other perennial playoff teams will certainly fancy their chances too in the LeBron-less playoff landscape. 

John Wall and the Wizards are one of those squads that will be hoping to take advantage of the chance to run through the conference without facing up against the world’s best player, and the dynamic PG is pretty confident about their chances. 

The addition of Dwight Howard could well improve them if he gels well with the rest of the roster, and in that scenario a deep playoff run for Washington is certainly on the cards. 

The Wizards have lost in the conference semi-finals three of the last five seasons, and haven’t actually ever faced up against a LeBron James led team, and fell to a disappointing first round exit last season losing 4-2 to the Raptors.

James’ Cavs swept Toronto in the next round. 

Despite that, Wall is adamant that this squad is much improved, and that he will return better after missing most of the 2017/18 season due to injury. 

With that, the five-time All Star thinks they have a real shot to run the table and make it to the Finals this season. 

“I think we have a better team now, and the East is more wide-open now that [LeBron James is] out of the picture,” Wall said Friday, per Yaron Weitzman of Bleacher Report.

And, despite being behind the Celtics, Sixers and Raptors amongst most people’s favourites in the East, the former number one overall pick thinks his squad can hang with anyone when healthy. 

“I think we could have competed the last two years if we didn’t have to deal with injuries,” he said. “Falling to the eight seed, playing Toronto, a heck of a team, I felt like we should have beaten those guys, but they came out the better team at that time.”

Howard’s presence, along with Austin Rivers’ addition, could well give them the depth they need to compete deep into the postseason, particularly with Wall and Bradley Beal not being relied upon to do all the scoring. 

However, getting past the loaded Celtics, and the rising talent of the Sixers will be mightily difficult, not to mention the unknown quantity that will be the Kawhi Leonard-led Raptors. 

LeBron might be gone, but a new crop of stars are ready to take his place as the dominant force in the Eastern Conference. Unfortunately for Wall and the Wizards, that group likely resides in Boston. 

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