Led by Rajon Rondo and Doc Rivers, the Boston Celtics will win the Atlantic Division next season.
Despite not making it to the NBA Finals, the Celtics had an impressive season in 2012. Not only did they prove to doubters that they were a real contender, but they also made it far with a crippled team.
As the Big Three era winds down, Rondo prepares to become the new leader of the Celtics team. Boston will continue to dominate their division, as the Knicks, Sixers and Nets fail to provide adequate competition.
These are the reasons why the Celtics will easily sit atop the Atlantic Division in the 2012-13 season.
Not only is Rajon Rondo arguably the best point guard in the league, he's also the future of the Boston Celtics. With Rondo and company, the Celtics will cruise to the head of the Atlantic Division.
Rondo is the best distributor in the NBA, leading the league in assists during the postseason with 11.7 per game and 203 total. His court vision is well above-average, creating opportunities for his Celtics teammates to score.
In the 2011-12 season, Rondo also began to develop a jumper. If he comes back next season with a consistent jump shot, he will be even more of an unstoppable force—certainly no match for the other point guards in his division.
Despite all of the talent in New York, the Knicks just aren't that good. The names of the Big Three in New York scream success: Carmelo Anthony, Amar'e Stoudemire and Defensive Player of the Year Tyson Chandler.
Throw Jeremy Lin, Landry Fields and Steve Novak in the mix and it looks like a title contender team. However, the pieces just simply don't fit well together.
After a disappointing 2011-12 season, the Knicks are looking to make big moves during the summer. As July 1 approaches, questions arise regarding Stoudemire. Will he be in a Knicks uniform next season?
It seems as if Stoudemire has lost his step, or maybe, he doesn't fit into the Knicks scheme. Either way, trade talks are already heating up.
While the Knicks definitely have potential, they are not stable enough to beat the Celtics. Boston has already established its identity as a team—something the Knicks have yet to do. New York must make some major changes before they can win the Atlantic Division.
Although the Philadelphia 76ers looked promising at the beginning, it was only a matter of time before their season unraveled. After beating the Bulls to make it to the second round of the playoffs, the Sixers were ousted by none other than the Boston Celtics.
Now, Philadelphia must rebuild if they want to be a serious contender. Without a consistent scorer, the Philadelphia team is simply mediocre.
Andre Iguodala trade talks are hotter than ever before, with the Los Angeles Lakers and Golden State Warriors leading the list of potential teams for Philadelphia's marquee player. With Iguodala gone, the Sixers may have to completely rebuild to find success.
Lou Williams, runner-up for Sixth Man of the Year and leading scorer of the Sixers, has also opted out of the final year of his contract to become a free agent.
With head coach Doug Collins, the young Sixers team could have a bright future in the NBA. However, until they fill some major holes, they are not a serious contender or competition for the Celtics in the Atlantic Division.
The Celtics have the best coach in the Atlantic Division and possibly the whole Eastern Conference. The team is undoubtedly in good hands with Doc Rivers.
Rivers is a one-time Coach of the Year, taking home the honor in 2000 with the Orlando Magic. He finished in fifth place this year, with San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich earning the top honor. Rivers signed a five-year contract extension with the C's in May 2011, so he'll be around for a while.
Rivers guided the Celtics to a 24-10 record after the All-Star break—the best in the NBA. In fact, he turned around a team who was on the verge of missing the playoffs completely.
In addition, Boston struggled with many injuries in the 2011-12 season. Jeff Green, Chris Wilcox and Avery Bradley all suffered from significant health issues, while other players were in and out of the lineup due to other nagging injuries.
Rivers managed to lead his thin roster to the Eastern Conference finals this year. He can surely lead a younger Celtics squad to the top of the Atlantic Division next season.
Avery Bradley was the breakout star of the Boston Celtics this year. After Ray Allen was sidelined with an ankle injury, Bradley joined the starting lineup, impressing Doc Rivers so much that he kept the starting position.
Unfortunately, the second-year guard suffered a season-ending shoulder injury, taking him out of the playoffs. The injury had a major impact of the Celtics defense and was definitely a major blow to the team's defensive strategy.
Together, Bradley and Rajon Rondo give the Celtics the quickest backcourt in the league. Next season, the pair will definitely be a force to be reckoned with. Bradley is young, talented and hungry to win. He's already a problem for his Atlantic Division opponents, so expect him to only get better once he's healthy next season.
While the Brooklyn Nets know they have to do whatever it takes to try to keep Deron Williams, it's very unlikely the All-Star point guard will stay.
The Nets acquired Deron Williams last season in a blockbuster trade for Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, two first-round draft picks and cash considerations.
He's one of the best point guards in the league and will be sought after by many NBA teams this summer. That being said, it's very likely that another team will be able to offer Williams more than the Nets can.
Williams claims he's still undecided, but the smartest decision for him right now is to opt out of his current contract of July 1 and become a unrestricted free agent.
Without Williams on the team, the Nets have no chance of beating the Boston Celtics for the Atlantic Division. The subpar Nets are no competition for the Celtics team.
General manager Danny Ainge has his work cut out for him this summer. The only members of the Celtics roster under contract for next year are Rajon Rondo, Paul Pierce, Avery Bradley and JaJuan Johnson.
Flip Saunders, who served as an adviser for Doc Rivers, told the Sid Hartman of the Minnesota Star Tribune that he's positive Kevin Garnett will return to the Celtics next year. With Ray Allen undergoing surgery and reportedly butting heads with Rondo, his chances of returning to the team are slim right now.
Judging by the team's performance in the postseason, they probably won't have much problem attracting free agents, plus, they will have the cap space woo players. Who wouldn't want to play with Rajon Rondo?
If the Celtics take full advantage of the 2012 draft as well as the free agency season, the team will be loaded with talent next year, making the Atlantic Division title highly attainable.