After my NBA Top 50 rankings ( check it out on Sircharlesincharge), I decided it's best to start my season previews. Instead of doing team by team, I decided to go with division by division.
Let's start with the Atlantic Division. Only one team made the playoffs out of the Atlantic and that team—the Boston Celtics—made it to the Finals and was arguably a Kendrick Perkins injury away from claiming another championship.
A lot has happened since the season ended. Let's take a look starting with the Boston Celtics
Even though the Celtics went to the NBA Finals, the Celtics had the 19th pick in the draft. The Celtics looked for a guard and got a steal. Avery Bradley was probably the best defending guard in the entire draft. He should be able to play both guard positions. In round two, the Celtics added Luke Harangody from Notre Dame. Even though he is undersized, Harangody could provide another post player off the bench
The Celtics kept their two biggest free agents in Paul Pierce and head coach Doc Rivers. Both allowed the Celtics to at least keep the same nucleus that got them to two Finals appearances over the past two years.
Along with resigning Doc and Pierce, the Celtics added pieces. They re-signed Ray Allen and Nate Robinson. They signed Shaquille O'Neal this past week, added Jermaine O' Neal for the MLE and Von Wafer for the vet's minimum. The only loss was Tony Allen, who signed with Memphis.
(Starters)- Rondo, Allen, Pierce, Garnett, J. O' Neal
( Bench)- S. O' Neal, Perkins, Bradley, Robinson, Wafer
Expect Boston to win the division for the fourth season in a row. There's not much competition for them in the division. With a lot of veterans, I fully expect Avery Bradley, Nate Robinson and Von Wafer to get tons of PT after the All Star Break. Kendrick Perkins won't be back into the rotation until February due to a torn ACL but when he returns, Boston will be deep.
With the third overall pick, The Nets wanted to hit a home run. They did in taking Georgia Tech Forward Derrick Favors. Favors is somewhat of project but I expect to see some flashes from him playing next to Brook Lopez.
With their next pick, New Jersey added some defensive help on the wings with Texas' Damion James. James is a explosive wing who could defend guards. At 6-7, James could also rebound well. After the draft, the Nets also added Brian Zoubek from Duke and Ben Uzoh from Tulsa.
The Nets were in the race for LeBron James but came up short. Instead, the Nets went the safe route. They added some rotational players. Jordan Farmar was a solid backup PG in LA and should thrive behind Devin Harris. Johan Petro should provide defense. Anthony Morrow is a knockdown shooter who can help a team who were terrible in three-point shooting. Travis Outlaw should be solid as a combo forward off the bench.
( Staters)- Harris, Morrow, T. Williams, Favors, Lopez
( Bench)- Farmar, Zoubek, Lee, Petro,
I don't expect much from New Jersey. Do I think they lose 70 games like last season? No. New Jersey should be a solid team. I expect at least 25-30 wins next season to begin the rebuild.
With no first round picks, the Knicks had two second round picks. They made two confusing and questionable moves. The first pick was Andy Rautins from Syracuse. He's a amazing shooter but lacks the athleticism to be a NBA player. The second pick was Landry Fields from Stanford. He might actually stick on the roster with his summer league play.
The day the Knicks didn't get LeBron, they made a deal sending David Lee to Golden State for Anthony Randolph, Ronny Turiaf, and Kelenna Azubkie. Add those three to Timofey Mozgov. Mozgov is a 7-1 offensive center who could start next season. Raymond Felton is another addition. The Knicks needed a point guard who can run the offense and Felton could be that guy next season. Last week, the Knicks also added Roger Mason Jr. to be a shooter off the bench.
(Starters)- Felton, Chandler, Gallinari, Stoudemire- Turiaf
(Bench)- Randolph, Timofey, Mason, Douglas
The Knicks should fight for a playoff spot. The addition of Amar'e, Felton and Randolph to Gallo and Chandler? The Knicks have also some defensive help in Ronny Turiaf. The interesting thing, the Knicks are also interchangable. They have five players who can play three different positions along the frontline. That could make it tough to defend.
The Sixers only had one pick but they made it one of the best picks: Evan Turner from Ohio State
Before the Draft, Philadelphia traded Samuel Dalembert for Spencer Hawes and Andrea Nocioni. Then, they added Tony Battie for some frontcourt depth.
(Starters)- Holiday, Turner, Iguodala, Young, Spieghts
(Bench)- Brand, Williams, Green, Hawes, Nocioni
I think Philadelphia should contend for a playoff position. Andre Iguodala should have another successful season. The Sixers have tons of players who can contribute next season. Expect Jrue Holiday to be the starting PG for this team. Evan Turner should be able to fit next to Iguodala as well. Don't count out Mareesse Spieghts and Thad Young. Both should have breakout seasons.
Knowing Chris Bosh was gone, the Raptors took Ed Davis from North Carolina. Davis is a solid low-post player and should be Toronto's rotation. They also traded to get Soloman Alabi from Florida State. Alabi was a 7-1 defensive presence who needs more time to develop.
After losing CB4, Toronto decided to make moves. Linas Klezia was a solid pickup after a season overseas. They traded Hedo Turkoglu for Leonardo Barbosa and Dwayne Jones. They traded a second rounder for David Anderson from Houston to help the frontcourt. They also got a $15 million trade exception and two first round picks in a sign and trade for Chris Bosh from Miami
(Starters)- Jack-Weems-DeRozan-Johnson- Bargnani
( Bench)- Davis, Calderon, Klezia, Barbosa, Andersen
I expect the Raptors to be a fun team to watch. DeRozan and Weems should be catching 10 alley oops a game. Calderon and Jack should play the pg position well enough to succeed. Barbosa and Klezia should be a explosive bench duo. The frontcourt will be interesting. Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani, and Ed Davis should be alright. I don't expect the playoffs but I can see them having a solid rebuilding season.
Here's the order the division should shake out.
Here are 5 predictions for this division
-Andre Iguodala will be traded
Evan Turner and Thad Young will exceed expectations next season allowing the Sixers to continue the rebuild by moving the swingman for a player and maybe a first round pick
-Anthony Randolph will be a emerging superstar
Randolph might start or be the 6th man but expect him to log tons of PT for New York and become something similar to what Shawn Marion and Boris Diaw were to Mike D'Antoni's system in Phoenix.
-Sonny Weems will have better numbers then DeMar DeRozan
Weems earned a lot of playing time for Toronto near the end of the season and I expect Weems to continue to thrive for Toronto. DeRozan will be given plenty of time to show he was worth the 9th overall pick but Weems will prove he's the better overall player.
-Jrue Holiday will become the best PG in the divison not named Rondo
6'4", solid playmaking ability and could defend? I'm buying into Jrue Holiday. With Evan Turner, Iguodala, Spieghts and Young: I could see him having a very good season.
-New Jersey will make a power play for a superstar in a trade
The Nets have young talent across the board. If a superstar wants to be traded (Chris Paul, Tony Parker, Danny Granger, Carmelo Anthony), expect New Jersey to be atop GM's list with players like Derrick Favors, Devin Harris, Courtney Lee and even Terrance Williams as players returning back in a trade.
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