It's just a prediction...and it's not that wildly off.
Do I disagree? Yes. But no more than I disagree with the writer (ESPN the mag, I think) who said the Raptors
will make the ECF.
Every team listed there (Bulls, Heat, Bucks) is improved. Philly will be much improved if they sign Smith. If they don't, then Atlanta will remain in the mix, and Philly will still be pretty decent.
Boston and Detroit (barring major moves or injuries) are likely going to be near the top without question. Then you have second tier teams like Cleveland, Orlando and Toronto, who really aren't all that far ahead of the next tier consisting of Philly, Atlanta, Milwaukee and Miami. And then there's teams like New Jersey, Chicago and Charlotte who could push for the playoffs if things go right for them.
So while I wouldn't predict the Raptors
to finish in the bottom part of the conference (my guess would be 4th or 5th) it could easily happen.
I agree with LX though, that Grange didn't really explore the possibility that Toronto could move up in the standings. Cleveland and Orlando are certainly teams Toronto could move on, and possibly Detroit if they follow through on the roster shake up Dumars talked about (or even if they don't)
The East is tight this year. Boston is the class of the conference, and after that it's a bit of a toss up. Injuries to major players will play a key role, as will any moves made over the rest of the summer.
So while he's not wrong to express that the Raps COULD be fighting for a playoff spot (given that it seems many of us, as fans, are penciling the Raps in for a top 4 spot already) he is wrong to not suggest the potential for a move upward as well. Anything can happen.