Now that the offseason is all but over and the Atlantic Division looks to be one of the best in the NBA in 2013, it’s time to take a look at how these five teams stack up against each other.
You can make a legitimate case that all five teams in the division are playoff worthy teams, but it’s highly doubtful all five will make the postseason. Top to bottom, the Atlantic has it all- superstar talent, championship teams and great young talent.
With that being said, here’s a look at how these teams stack up against each other in my latest Atlantic Division Power Rankings.
5. Toronto Raptors: I like what the Raptors have done probably a little more than most people, and in any other division they could be a playoff team. But in the Atlantic, they are still likely the bottom team.
They add a pair of young pieces in Terrance Ross, Jonas Valanciunas, signed Landry Fields and added Kyle Lowry via trade with the Houston Rockets. Add to that two quality young players in Andrea Bargnani and DeMar Derozan and the Raptors are getting better and could be a surprise team in the Eastern Conference.
This is a good young team whose on their way, however they may still be a year away for competing in the Atlantic. It won’t be long though before the Raps are legitimate contenders in the Atlantic.
4. Philadelphia 76ers: Even though they made the second round of the playoffs a season ago and acquired Andrew Bynum, I almost listed the Sixers as the worst team in the division, but the Bynum acquisition should pay immediate dividends.
However gone are leading scorer Lou Williams, team leader Andre Iguodala and a whole bunch of other pieces. Truth be told the Sixers have only five players returning from last season’s team, so I don’t know how long it will take this team to gel.
They did sign Nick Young and acquired Dorrell Wright and Jason Richardson in separate trades, so their perimeter shooting should be better.
Everyone talks Bynum, but the keys to the Sixers could be both Thaddeus Young and Evan Turner, who could be ready for breakout seasons. If they do, the Sixers could end up being much higher on this list.
3. Brooklyn Nets: After the offseason, no team has spent more money than the Nets and they are a much improved team who could easily win the Atlantic as well as be a team who struggles to make the postseason.
I like the starting lineup of Deron Williams-Joe Johnson-Gerald Wallace-Kris Humphries-Brook Lopez. I also like the Mirza Teletovic and C.J. Watson signings, but the Nets overall depth on paper just isn’t exciting. Of the rest of the group, only MarShon Brooks and Reggie Evans will likely contribute significantly. The nets will be improved and will be a playoff team, but I don’t see them being legitimate contenders in the east for another year.
2. New York Knicks: They lost Jeremy Lin and despite having no cap room going into the offseason, they still found a way to add over $60 million to the payroll. New York is the deepest team in the division with the additions of Ronnie Brewer, Jason Kidd, Marcus Camby, Pablo Prigioni, Raymond Felton and Kurt Thomas to an already talented team.
I could make the case for the Knicks being a Top 3 team in the Eastern Conference and winning the Atlantic and that’s certainly how things could play out. But with Iman Shumpert out until January, they still will be missing a key component for the first two months of the season.
But the Knicks success will come down to an improved defense under Mike Woodson and what type of seasons Carmelo Anthony and Amar’e Stoudemire have. Stoudemire just got done working with Hakeem Olajuwon and Anthony torched everyone in the Olympics, so on paper at least, this team looks good.
1. Boston Celtics: The Celtics lost Ray Allen in free agency but Danny Ainge did a fine job of replacing him and keeping Boston very competitive.
The C’s will return a starting lineup of Rajon Rondo-Avery Bradley-Paul Pierce-Brandon Bass-Kevin Garnett that is not only outstanding defensively but also a group that was one win away from the NBA Finals a season ago.
In addition they add a pair of quality guards in Courtney Lee and Jason Terry, plus a pair of rookies in Jared Sullinger and Kris Joseph who could possibly contribute right off the bat. They don’t have much size behind KG other than rookie Fab Melo, but the Celtics should be extremely competitive in 2013.
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