The Atlantic is the division in the NBA with all to play, where each team has a lot to prove. From mega trades to aging stars to a bumper-free agency, the Atlantic boasts of it all, and so makes for an engaging division. Detailed analysis of the teams right here:
The Celtics have revamped and remodelled their roster around veterans Garnett and Pierce, but this now is Rajon Rondo’s team all the way, and the Celtics have given him the pieces this year to run the offense his way. With Jason Terry being added in the free agency and Jeff Green back to full fitness, the Celtics have the players to run their pick and roll style half court offense. Their presence also gives them more players with the ability to make their own shots, and hence relieve some of the burden on Rondo. Leandro Barbosa and Courtney Lee, both additions in free agency, add depth to the shooting guard position and will provide some much-needed defensive tenacity and scoring till Bradley comes back from injury.
Kevin Garnett might not like Ray Allen any more, but the Celtics would want him to channelize all that anger into another powerhouse season, where his transition to the Center position will help the Celtics hold fort defensively, while keeping their best offensive weapons on the floor. His leadership, and aggression, coupled with Pierce’s clutch shooting and defense, have been trademarks of the Celtics play for the last few seasons, and the veteran duo will look to keep that going for one more year.
However, Rondo is the true leader of the Celtics, and his play-making, defensive awareness and growing maturity are the reasons why the Celtics will have a shot at reaching the finals in the East again. Rivers’ tough coaching style which stresses a lot on the team playing a high intensity defensive pressing game, and his tough player management skills, in combination with Rondo’s spontaneous offense, and stifling defense, are the foundation stones for the Celtics in the upcoming season. Watch the Celtics reach the East semis, before giving way to the teams with better depth.
A Russian oligarch for an owner, a plush new arena and a prized possession in an elite, committed Point Guard, boy are the Nets looking forward to the almost upon us NBA season. Though their pursuit of Dwight Howard came to a futile end, the Nets have done well to assemble a competitive roster which can give the best in the league a run for their money. Convincing Williams to sign on through 2017, while also keeping Wallace, Lopez and Humphries was a clear indication of the owner Pokhorov’s ambition. Astute additions in free agency such as Blatche, Bogans and Watson give the roster some much needed experience and support off the bench. Trading for Joe Johnson also gives them a true scorer, who will take away some pressure off of Williams, and also add some savvy to their play. Signing on Marshon Brooks, who had a very encouraging rookie year, shows the team is willing to support the rookies with talent, and is also looking to the future.
With Pokhorov making it clear he looks to win the NBA championship within the next three years, coach Avery Johnson has his task cut out. His authoritative system of coaching, with continuous emphasis on defense will challenge the roster thoroughly, but he has the owner’s backing, for now. Would be a surprise if the Nets to make the conference semis, or maybe not.
Lights, Camera, Garden!! It is that time of the year again, when the most glamorous, and yet quite calamitous New York Knicks start their journey to challenge for excellence and honours. Sadly, the way the script has turned out the past couple of seasons is that the team’s stars have been unable to shine consistently, and hence the overwhelming underachievement. In sacrificing a bunch of role players to create a top heavy, starry roster, the Knicks never had the depth to challenge for anything seriously. This off-season, they have made moves to rectify that, by letting go of Lin and Fields, and saving some money, and making up for them by bringing in Felton, Kidd and Brewer who will add some much needed playmaking, defense on the wings, and a lot of toughness. The fact that the Knicks have two rookies, one aged 28 and the other 35, is a clear indication that they aren’t looking to the far future, and want results soon, preferably now. The frontcourt has been shored up with the addition of Thomas,,Camby and Wallace (Combined age 116!!) in the hope that the veterans can provide some defensive help to Chandler, which will help Anthony and Stoudemire play their game, which generally does not include defense. In Shumpert and Smith, they have unpredictable role players, who nevertheless are assets to the team. They generally have injury issues, and will find it difficult to make it to the playoffs this season.
Trading Andre for Andrew has made the 76ers one of the best rosters in the East, with depth and experience. The team has grown up together, and so is used to playing with each other, and understands its strengths and weaknesses very well. The loss of Williams, Igoudala and Brand has seen them lose a lot of experience and defensive nous, but they have made up for it with shrewd signings in free agency. The additions of Nick Young and Wright will help the Sixers scoring, and give them a genuine weapon from beyond the arc, while Brown will lend defensive thrust to the team. The fact that they retained the young core of Allen, Holiday, Turner, Hawes and Young shows the belief in their abilities that the organization has, and the risk they are willing to take on them. The additions of Bynum and Richardson will add some much needed depth, offensive spark and tenacity to the team.
Doug Collins is the perfect coach to continue the growth of the team, with his veteran leadership a calming influence on the young, dynamic team. The tenacious defensive system he has inculcated has seen the Sixers develop into one of the best transition offense teams, and with the addition of Bynum, they will look to develop their post offense further to add variety to their plays. If all works out, they should be there to take part in the East finals.
The fact that Dwayne Casey took a Raptors team that was among the worst in the league in terms of defense and led them to a top half finish in terms of the defensive statistics, shows his appetite for relentless improvement, and his efficiency in getting his team to show such a significant improvement. The addition of Lowry and Fields will add much needed depth to the Raptors roster, and they will add tenacity and intensity to the team. Calderon, Johnson, Davis and Kleiza will form a relatively strong bench, and should contribute well to the development of the team. Bargnani improved his game greatly last year, before having his season curtailed early through injury, and should be the Raptors’ main scorer. DeRozan will provide athleticism and dynamic scoring, and lead the Raptors in transition situations, and should have a great season when playing with a young, energetic back-court of Fields and Lowry.
The addition of Valanciunas adds a whole new dimension to the Raptors’roster and the options in terms of trying out different line-ups. The size and athleticism of Valanciunas will add strength to the Raptors’ defense, while also giving them thrust offensively. His penchant for dunking the ball, and for having a sense of humor will most probably see him becoming a fan favorite, and a player who is respected and loved by his teammates.
The challenge before Casey is to develop the team into an offensive threat, and to mesh individual strengths together. This season is very pivotal to the Raptors’chances of having a team which can contend regularly for many seasons to come. Will turn around their existing losing record, and become a .500 team. However, they will be ready for the playoffs only by next season.