Season Preview: Atlantic Division
The NBA season tips off next week.
The entirety of an NBA season – the standard 82 plus the rigors of the postseason – isn’t something that’s easily predicted. But I figure before they start playing the games that matter, I should share my thoughts with you on who will land where in the standings. I’ll break it down division by division, giving my own outlook on things.
Even though I’ll use the word often, don’t consider these ‘predictions’, because honestly the idea of ‘predicting’ anything is ridiculous. These are just my own opinions on each division. Feel free to agree, disagree, comment, and challenge.
Today I’ll be taking a look at the Atlantic division.
1 – Boston Celtics
The number one move of the offseason was Danny Ainge and the Boston Celtics pulling a mega move to blockbuster their way back to relevancy, acquiring Ray Allen from the Sonics and Kevin Garnett from the T-Wolves in a matter of days. In about a week’s time we finally get to start seeing how that move will pan out.
While the hype has already started to swirl and talk of a ‘chip hitting Bean Town is here early, there are still questions for the Celtics, specifically in regards to their depth. Paul Pierce, Ray Allen, and Kevin Garnett are a cluster of stars not often assembled, but support will be needed, even if just for some solid defense and spot shooting. But while the Celtics may be in need of a true starting five (let’s face it, they have a starting three), and any kind of depth after that, they are in the Atlantic division, and their trio of stars is more than anyone in their vicinity has. Celtics win their division.
2 – Toronto Raptors
The Raptors had their coming out party all season long in ’06-’07, and despite some doubters like myself, they proved themselves to be quite the capable, and even dangerous, team. Last season’s trip to the postseason, while short lived, instantly snapped them into the picture for the Eastern conference down the road.
Chris Bosh is a stud. If it took you until last season to relieve that you’re even more off target than I am. He’s good, damn good, and short of getting flattened by a bus his progression isn’t going to slow its roll any time soon. TJ Ford, Anthony Parker, and Andrea Bargnani form a nice young nucleus around Bosh and ensure this team will be around and competing for a while. Expect them to only get better and have a solid shot at making it into the second round of the playoffs.
3 – New Jersey Nets
Even just a few seasons ago the Nets could have been called one of the up and coming teams in the league. Now, however, it seems like they may have hit their peak back in their Finals days and are slipping backwards. They did reach the second round of the playoffs last season, but Jason Kidd isn’t getting any younger and for some unfortunate reason this much touted trio of Kidd, Carter, and Jefferson just isn’t going to take this team all the way.
While certain people may not like it, this team will have to be taken apart and rebuilt before it’s going to contend for anything, a division title included. Carter and Kidd will likely both have to be dealt for real progress to be made. For the time being, they still do have the talent to get into the playoffs again, but any kind of significant run won’t manifest until some changes are made.
4 – New York Knicks
The Knicks had themselves an up and down season last year that ultimately didn’t amount to anything more than mediocrity (okay, slightly less than mediocrity). The one real move of note was the acquisition of Zach Randolph, a legit 20-10 big man. After stockpiling carbon copy guards at a rate of absurdity that rivals extraterrestrial games of marbles with stellar constellations, the Knicks finally snagged themselves a truly reliable scorer down on the blocks.
The Knicks do have some athleticism and some talent, but I’m still unconvinced that the minds behind it, and managing it, are anything but incompetent. And furthermore the chemistry for this team has never been there. Expect some flashes from this team, but nothing reliable or especially note worthy. Here comes the lottery again…
5 – Philadelphia 76ers
You know, I told them not to do it. I told them not to deal Allen Iverson. Don’t say I didn’t warn you, Philly.
Let’s just be straight about this, the Sixers are going to be terrible this season. I think Andre Iguodala is for real, and he will continue to develop into a stud, but beyond his growth – and his highlight reel – there won’t be much else to watch during the Sixers’ season.