HoopsVibe Season Preview: Atlantic Division
With the NBA season getting ready to start up, we thought we should take a brief glimpse at the league, division by division, just so you guys have an idea of what to expect this year. However, we will not stand by any of these predictions come season’s end. Unless we’ve actually managed to get them right.
The Atlantic Division has been interesting from top to bottom lately. Sadly, it hasn’t always been for reasons directly related to the product that has been on the court. Still, this season should prove to be entertaining on the East Coast.
No preview of this division should start without mentioning the defending champions. The Celtics used two huge offseason trades to jump from worst to first last year. This year, they get to fight off everyone who wants to come and take their crown. One would presume that, like last year, it will take more than the Big Three to be the last team standing. Boston will need continued growth from its role players if they are to become the franchise’s first repeat champions since the 60s.
Speaking of the 60s, the New York Knicks looked like they would have trouble socring past that number at times last season. The insertion of Mike D’Antoni as head coach might remedy that problem, but the return of much of last year’s team could mean more of the same. As it stands now, the Knicks look like they don’t have the correct personnel to execute the typical D’Antoni game plan. This could change as the season progresses, via trade or buyout. Unlikely to change, however, is the Knicks’ place among its Atlantic counterparts.
A team looking to change its standing lies in neighboring New Jersey. Gone are Jason Kidd and Richard Jefferson. In their places are an assortment of young talent and a few veteran pieces. The most important piece is Vince Carter, who will have to put up with the pressure of being "the man" while staying healthy and productive. His best teammate seems to be Devin Harris who, if he can manage to keep himself from getting hustled, has the chance to be a solid point guard in the NBA. The team’s outlook, at least for this season, probably isn’t as promising.
Philadelphia will look to improve its record after adding Elton Brand, who is good for 20 and 10 pretty much any time he steps on the court, to a team that seemed to have it all figured out as last year’s regular season drew to a close. Backcourt depth and overall team maturity could be issues, but talent certainly will not be. In fact, in Brand, point guard Andre Miller and guard Andre Iguodala, the Sixers have a trio of players that could put up numbers to rival any teams’ best players.
And finally, we have Canada’s team the Toronto Raptors. The team underachieved in the eyes of many last season and they’ll look to improve upon that this year. Jose Calderon will assume point guard duties full time and Jermaine O’Neal will look to be the inside presence the Raptors have lacked. On paper, it seems that they don’t have the talent they had last year, but the team is hoping that there has been addition by subtraction.
PROJECTED ORDER OF FINISH:
4. New York
5. New Jersey
What do you predict? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section.