2013-2014 Atlantic Division preview
With the Atlantic division two clear front runners; It will be very intriguing to see which team out of the two will finish on top and most likely be the only team from this division to have home court advantage in the playoffs. While the three other teams are in the process of rebuilding and retooling for the next few years.
New York Knicks- The New York Knicks look to repeat as Atlantic division champions for the 1st time since the 92-93 and 93-94 NBA seasons. With the same group of stars, Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, sixth man JR Smith & the rising star in Iman Shumpert look poised for a deep playoff run. With key bench acquisitions of Metta World Peace and trading for former 1st overall pick Andrea Bargnani, they look to play a nice role for the 2nd unit for the Knicks. One of the biggest question mark on this team is the health and mainly to the knees of Amar’e Stoudemire. Although Stoudemire will never be back to his superstar ways, he can still play a key role in this team’s success late into the season and especially in the playoffs. But if not now, it might another long decade or so for the Knicks franchise to get back on top with the looming off-season in the rearview mirror and the possible departure of superstar Carmelo Anthony. This is a make or break year for not only Anthony but the Knicks franchise. Although my NBA finals winner is still undecided I do have the Knicks winning the Atlantic division.
Brooklyn Nets- Well a lot has changed with not only the team name from last year from New Jersey to Brooklyn, but the changes this year affect what will happen on the court more than ever. Recently retired & future Hall of famer Jason Kidd taking over as head coach the Brooklyn Nets added even more future Hall of fame talent this year as well. An off-season trade with an in division rival sees long time Boston Celtic Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett along with 15 year veteran Jason Terry join a team already playoff caliber team. With an aging and over paid Joe Johnson, a top 10 point guard in Deron Williams and a rising center in the league Brook Lopez, the Nets are in a very good position to contend for not only the Atlantic division but for an NBA title. With the doubts being around if 1st year head coach Jason Kidd can handle this group of players and also can these players stay healthy for an entire year. I believe this team has what it takes to make the Atlantic division a very intriguing one to watch all year, but in the end the Brooklyn Nets will end up in 2nd in the Atlantic division.
Toronto Raptors- This is a team that hasn’t made the playoffs since the 2008 NBA season when they had star Chris Bosh. Now with a completely new lineup and new coach the Toronto Raptors look to finally turn this franchise around since the loss of Bosh due to free agency in 2010. With the mid-season trade last year to bring in all-star Small Forward Rudy Gay they look to make an impact in the 2013-2014 NBA season. With recent draft picks in Terrence Ross, Jonas Valanciunas and DeMar Derozan the Raptors hope the young core along with veteran point guard Kyle Lowry can get this franchise back on track and back into the playoffs. While the eastern conference is a weak division and this team is a for sure lock for 3rd place in the Atlantic division; I just don’t see this being the conference that gets 3 teams into the playoffs. While I see them greatly improving and being in the hunt for the 7th or 8th seed in the east. The Toronto Raptors fall just short of making the NBA playoffs.
Boston Celtics- With this team right here contending for one of the worst records in the entire NBA. The Boston Celtics surprisingly are not the worst team in the Atlantic division. Although this team is going through a major makeover by getting rid of their longtime coach Doc Rivers, the face of the franchise since 1998 gone via trade to the Brooklyn Nets along with defensive leader Kevin Garnett. The team is going in a different direction with former Butler head coach and 1st year NBA coach Brad Stevens. With Stevens at the helm & his star point guard Rajon Rondo recovering for ACL surgery, the Celtics will have a very long season of trying to stay above .500. Rondo isn’t scheduled to return until the end of December or beginning of January. While the Celtics have had a lot of success over the past 5+ years, this will be a season that Celtics fans will want over once it starts. The Boston Celtics will finish well under .500 and in 4th in the Atlantic Division.
Philadelphia 76ers- While there isn’t much to say about this franchise that just seems to not make the right moves; The Philadelphia 76ers are in a big rebuilding mode at that all started 2 years ago when they traded all-star Small Forward Andre Iguodala for Andrew Bynum, who never played 1 minute for the 76ers organization. This past off-season they traded all-star point guard Jrue Holiday to the New Orleans Pelicans for rookie Nerlens Noel, who is reportedly going to miss the entire season due to the ACL tear he suffered during his freshmen year at Kentucky. With 2010 2nd overall pick Evan Turner coming into his own and being the leader of this team the 76ers franchise looks to be one of the worst teams in the entire NBA. Their new head coach Brett Brown will have a lot of growing pains for the next couple seasons, but with the next few draft classes being rumored to be stocked; The 76ers can rebuild within the next few years, but the 76ers will end up in last in the Atlantic Division.