NBA Offseason: Power Ranking the Teams in the Atlantic Division
The Atlantic Division is arguably the most compelling division in basketball these days. Loaded with superstars, young talent and championship contenders, there's a chance we could see four Atlantic teams finish in the top eight in the Eastern Conference this season.
Between the improvements in Brooklyn and Philadelphia alone, the division is more interesting but don't discount Toronto as one of the league's most improved teams in 2012-13.
Here are the offseason power rankings for the Atlantic Division.
5. Toronto Raptors
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Despite overpaying for small forward Landry Fields this summer, the Toronto Raptors have made improvements to a young roster that is just starting to take shape.
With the acquisition of Kyle Lowry from the Houston Rockets this offseason, the Raptors improved at the point guard position, as Lowry possesses a more diverse offensive and defensive game than incumbent point guard Jose Calderon.
Now, with a starting backcourt that consists of Lowry and DeMar DeRozan, the Raptors have a promising duo that will help them contend for one of the Eastern Conference's final playoff spots.
Along with Lowry, DeRozan and Fields, Toronto has an established power forward in 7'0'' sharpshooter Andrea Bargnani, and the team will finally get their first look at center Jonas Valanciunas this season.
To top things off, the Raptors selected Terrence Ross at No. 8 overall in the NBA draft, adding some depth behind DeRozan on the bench. Should Ross emerge as the three-point specialist many hope he will become, the Raptors should have a nice young corps of athletes to build around.
4. Philadelphia 76ers
Adding Andrew Bynum to the mix was huge for the Philadelphia 76ers, but they have so many new pieces that it remains to be seen how they will all gel.
The Sixers will return only five players from last season's roster, giving head coach Doug Collins a nearly brand new roster to toy with.
What the Sixers lacked in the past was a consistent inside-out game—something they now have. With Bynum, Spencer Hawes, Lavoy Allen and even Kwame Brown, the 76ers finally have some front court depth, although it's up to Collins to figure out what the best pairings will be.
Don't discount Thaddeus Young just because he comes off of the bench, either. Young is one of the league's most versatile defenders, using his length and athleticism to match up against opposing 2s, 3s and 4s.
In addition to some depth in the frontcourt, the Sixers now have some wings who can actually shoot the ball at a proficient rate. The Sixers leading scorer last season, Lou Williams signed with the Atlanta Hawks, leaving a massive scoring void that needed to be filled.
The Sixers acted quickly, signing Nick Young and trading for swingman Dorell Wright. In addition to Young and Wright, the Sixers acquired shooting guard Jason Richardson in the Dwight Howard blockbuster, a veteran piece who will help stabilize the Sixers' new-look starting lineup.
Anything less than a top-six seed in the Eastern Conference would be a disappointment for the Sixers.
3. Brooklyn Nets
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The Nets' first offseason in Brooklyn was an exciting one, to say the least.
For months the Nets were considered the favorites to land Dwight Howard from the Magic, but talks quickly fell apart, forcing Billy King and the Nets front office to turn to option No. 2: Joe Johnson.
With Johnson and his massive contract slotted in as the team's starting 2-guard, the Nets now have a lineup that's ready to compete in a drastically improved Eastern Conference.
The Nets also re-signed Deron Williams to a max contract, giving them what looks like the Eastern Conference's most talented and polarizing backcourt.
In addition to re-signing Williams, the Nets made it a priority to bring back small forward Gerald Wallace, although he did not come cheap.
With a frontcourt pairing of Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries, the Nets look legit, but it remains to be seen how all of these new pieces will mesh.
Brooklyn's new squad also improved their overall depth, bringing guys like C.J. Watson, Reggie Evans, and—oh yeah—Jerry Stackhouse aboard.
The Nets inaugural season in Brooklyn promises to be among the league's most intriguing storylines as the season gets underway.
2. New York Knicks
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The New York Knicks roster didn't undergo a facelift like the Nets or the Sixers, but they did add some interesting names to a team that has struggled to live up to the hype.
The days of Jeremy Lin in New York are over, but the Raymond Felton chronicles, Volume II are set to open at Madison Square Garden this fall.
Felton, of course, was dealt to the Nuggets in the Carmelo Anthony blockbuster in February of 2011, and after a lousy stint in Portland, will return to the Knicks, where he posted the best numbers of his career under head coach Mike D'Antoni.
Unfortunately for Felton (and fantasy owners), D'Antoni has since resigned as the Knicks' head coach, and Felton will need to adapt to playing in Mike Woodson's more balanced system.
The Knicks also added a few vets this offseason, namely, Marcus Camby, Jason Kidd and Kurt Thomas.
While it's fun to speculate about Kidd and Felton splitting the point guard duties, the Knicks' success will once again hinge on the success of superstars Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire.
Stoudemire has reportedly been working on his post game with NBA great Hakeem Olajuwon, and Anthony is coming off of a spectacular two-week run at the Olympic Games in which he was one of Team USA's most pleasant surprises.
1. Boston Celtics
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The Boston Celtics may have lost Ray Allen, but they did a stellar job of replacing his production this offseason.
With Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Brandon Bass locked in as starters, the Celtics went out and added shooters Jason Terry and Courtney Lee to a backcourt that is among the Eastern Conference's best.
Now, with Rondo and Avery Bradley returning, the Celtics have a nice combination of scorers, defenders and slashers in the backcourt, one that will need to carry the load for an aging squad.
Draft picks Jared Sullinger and Kris Joseph figure to have a more immediate impact than rookie center Fab Melo, but knowing Doc Rivers, all three will be bigger contributors than anyone thinks.
While it may sound silly, the departure of backup center Greg Stiemsma to Minnesota could be the team's biggest loss. Kevin Garnett's play last season was spectacular, but he's not getting any younger.
Although they drafted Melo, the Celtic's are pretty thin at center behind Garnett, with Jason Collins now playing the role of the team's primary backup.
The Celtics don't boast the sexiest roster around, but they are undoubtedly the East's best-coached team, and figure to be legitimate contenders once again.