The Damian Lillard trade sent ripple effects through the entire NBA landscape. Lillard is, without a doubt, one of the best players in the NBA, and for years, he was loyal to the Portland Trail Blazers. Eventually, he had had enough and requested a trade. While a team like the Miami Heat seemed like the frontrunner, the Milwaukee Bucks came out of nowhere to pair Lillard with Giannis Antetokounmpo. The 2021 NBA Finals champions instantly formed one of the best superstar duos in the league, but on top of that, they didn't have to give up a devastating trade package. The trade cemented the team as odds-on favorites to win the championship, and the talent on the roster means other Eastern Conference teams are going to have a tough time beating them in the playoffs. Here is an updated power ranking of the Eastern Conference after the Damian Lillard trade.

15. Washington Wizards

The Washington Wizards are in a clear rebuild mode. They traded away their best players, Bradley Beal and Kristaps Porzingis, and are going forward with a youth movement. Jordan Poole – who they acquired in one of their many offseason trades – will score in bunches in Washington, but he doesn't provide a lot of defense and likely won't contribute to a winning style of basketball for a couple of seasons. Even their youngsters like Bilal Coulibaly and Johnny Davis are pretty raw for their classes and will need time to develop.

14. Detroit Pistons

The Detroit Pistons only won 17 games last year, and while that should improve, the team is still expected to be bottom dwellers in the Eastern Conference. The return of Cade Cunningham will be important for a young backcourt that also features Monte Morris, Ausar Thompson, and Jaden Ivey. The team is young, and the future is bright for the backcourt. However, the roster is poorly constructed. There is little wing talent on the team, and there are way too many bigs. Isaiah Stewart, Jalen Duren, Marvin Bagley, and James Wiseman will all be fighting for playing time, and all ideally play the five position. The team's lack of spacing and shooting ability is a worrisome combination, and it will likely lead to a lot of losses.

13. Charlotte Hornets

The Charlotte Hornets have had a number of off-the-court issues in recent years, and that doesn't usually lead to on-court success. Most recently, Kai Jones has had a bizarre offseason that has made some further question the Hornets locker room and culture. There is some talent on the team, though. A healthy season from LaMelo Ball will help, and Miles Bridges (another player with outside issues) returning to the team will improve the on-court product. Ball and Bridges have on-court chemistry as they paired for a number of highlight-reel alley-oops the last time they played together, but it may be hard for the team to overcome all of the distractions.

12. Chicago Bulls

The DeMar DeRozan/Zach LaVine/Nikola Vucevic core hasn't worked like the Chicago Bulls hoped it would in the Eastern Conference, and the team may be close to blowing it up. The formula seems to be there for Chicago. The above trio all provide the offense, and the team has put defensive gurus like Alex Caruso and Patrick Williams around them, but for whatever reason, it hasn't worked. To make matters worse, Lonzo Ball – another high-end defensive player – will miss the entire season yet again, leaving fans wondering if he will ever again be the player he once was.

11. Toronto Raptors

The Raptors were a .500 team last year, and all signs point to them getting worse. While they are still a towering team that features a number of stoppers, the Raptors lost one of the few players who could provide an offensive spark when Fred VanVleet signed a massive deal with the Houston Rockets. Jakob Poeltl, Scottie Barnes, and O.G. Anunoby will have their moments on the defensive end, but the team will have to rely heavily on Pascal Siakam to score the ball.

10. Brooklyn Nets

The Brooklyn Nets traded two of the best players in the league last year when they moved Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving before the trade deadline. That would usually signal a rebuild, but what happened in Brooklyn was more of a re-tool. The team received lots of talent back in the trades, including Mikal Bridges and Cam Johnson, the former of which took his game to a new level as the top dog in Brooklyn. If Ben Simmons returns to form, the team will have a suffocating defensive identity that they can live by. Bridges, Simmons, and Nic Claxton are some of the best defensive players in the NBA.

9. Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic are on the rise, and they will look to fight for a spot in the play-in game this season. While still young and inexperienced, Orlando is loaded with talent. Franz Wagner and Paolo Banchero form one of the most exciting young tandems in the league and are the team's franchise building blocks. A number of other recent first-round picks seem to be on the cusp of breaking out as well, including Jalen Suggs, Cole Anthony, and a pair of 2023 first-rounders (Anthony Black and Jett Howard). Wendell Carter Jr., Jonathon Issac, and Markelle Fultz have all struggled with injuries throughout their careers. If they can put together a healthy season, the Magic can turn heads and boast an impressive defensive unit.

8. Atlanta Hawks

Finishing with a .500 record last year, the Atlanta Hawks were somewhat of a disappointment. They haven't been able to reach the heights they saw when they reached the Eastern Conference Finals in 2021. Regardless, the team will be one of the best deep-ball teams in 2023. Trae Young has unlimited range, and A.J. Griffin is an efficient long-ball shooter who may break out this season. Despite pairing Young with Dejounte Murray in the backcourt last year, the team still struggled defensively.

Trae Young has all of the talent in the world, but the team's ceiling may be capped if he is unable to improve on the defensive end of the floor. They also traded John Collins for next to nothing this offseason. While Collins had regressed mightily, he was still a starting-caliber player, and the team didn't find a direct replacement. Jalen Johnson is who the team hopes to take his spot, but he is somewhat of an unknown commodity.

7. Indiana Pacers

The emergence of Tyrese Haliburton makes the Indiana Pacers legitimate playoff contenders. Haliburton is one of the best passer/playmakers in the NBA, and he is surrounded by a number of play finishers and three-point shooters. Obi Toppin and Jarace Walker were brought in during the offseason to improve the power forward position, the team's biggest weakness last season. At the same time, Buddy Hield and Myles Turner are some of the best shooters in the league for their positions. Bruce Brown was another addition to a massive offseason overhaul. He will bring the championship pedigree that can turn the team around.

6. Philadelphia 76ers

The Philadelphia 76ers are in turmoil right now. James Harden has been adamant that he wants out of town, but the team has been unable to find a sufficient trade package. Harden has evolved his game to become one of the best playmakers in the NBA, and this compliments Joel Embiid – the NBA's scoring leader and MVP – nicely. However, this dynamic pairing doesn't seem like it will last much longer. Tyrese Maxey is developing into a great player, but if Harden leaves town without a superstar return, then the Sixers could see regression. That is what I am predicting here.

5. New York Knicks

The New York Knicks seemed to finally find the perfect combination when they brought in Jalen Brunson to be the franchise point guard. Brunson proved doubters wrong with a magnificent season, and he gives the team a unique look with three starters who shoot left-handed. Julius Randle and R.J. Barrett are the other two, and while they can both be inconsistent, the highs may be worth it. It will be tough to surpass the four teams ahead of them in these rankings, but the Knicks will compete in the East.

RECOMMENDED (Article Continues Below)

4. Miami Heat

Heat culture is a real thing, and the Miami Heat know how to win ball games. Despite finishing as the eight-seed last year, the Miami Heat fought their way all the way to the NBA Finals. It is their second Finals appearance in four seasons, proving the team has enough talent to make noise in the East. However, the team has lacked the final piece to get them over the edge.

The Heat have a clear identity. Surround two-way superstars Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo with three-point shooters, but the team clearly needs one more star. Kyle Lowry was expected to be that, but father time got the better of him. Then Miami was the frontrunner to land Damian Lillard, but he ended up with the Milwaukee Bucks. Not only did the Heat not get Lillard, but he ended up with a fellow Eastern Conference team, making the Heat's path to the Finals even more difficult.

3. Cleveland Cavaliers

The Cleveland Cavaliers underwhelmed when they lost in five games to the Knicks in the first round of the playoffs last season, but there is enough talent on the roster to expect improvement. Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland form a premier scoring backcourt. They are backed by a defensive pairing of Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley that is among the best in the league. Their biggest weakness last year was the lack of scoring potential out of the small forward position. Max Strus – an elite three-point shooter – was brought in to fix that.

2. Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics were my pick to lead the East prior to the Damian Lillard trade, but the point guard's arrival in Milwaukee changed things. Still, the Celtics have a history of success, and the dynamic duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown is among the best in the NBA. The losses of Grant Williams and Marcus Smart hurt their perimeter defense, but they traded for Kristaps Porzingis to give them a new look. Porzingis has struggled to stay on the court, but when healthy, he is a unicorn who can shoot the long ball and defend the rim. That is a scary thought considering he will be paired with Robert Williams or Al Horford, two elite defensive paint players.

1. Milwaukee Bucks

The acquisition of Damian Lillard makes the Bucks the clear front-runner to come out of the Eastern Conference. Lillard and Antetokounmpo will form one of the scariest tandems ever, and their skill sets suit each other perfectly. Lillard fixes the Bucks' biggest problem – three-point shooting – and it will be even easier for him to get up shots because of the presence of Antetokounmpo. The loss of Jrue Holiday hurts, as he is one of the best defensive players in the NBA, but the team still has two perennial Defensive Player of the Year candidates in Antetokounmpo and Brook Lopez. The team was even able to retain Khris Middleton, an elite scoring option who should have a bounce-back season. Lillard needed more help around him, and he certainly got that by joining the Bucks. As of now, it seems like a perfect marriage.