The start of the NBA season is just about a week away. I am pretty sure I know what to expect from the Sixers (17-22 games won), unless they piss us all off and some how, some way, get the eigth-seed in the East. The chances of that happening? Well, the chances of this out-of-bounds play being called in a NBA game are better…
Actually, you never know…
Moving on…figured I’d checkout the rest of the Atlantic division foes and see where they fall in the NBA world. Are the Nets real contenders? What are the Celtics doing? Tanking or patching a band aid on it? Should the Knicks just blow it up after this year? Should they invest their future into Melo? The Atlantic division is full of questions. It’s funny the way I look at it, the Sixers might have the best direction of all the teams.
Let’s start with the Boston Celtics. Gone are the “big boys” Pierce, Terry, “Doc”, and Garnett. In are the “new boys” Gerald Wallace, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Kelly Olynyk, and Brad Stevens. Who’s left? That would be the star point-guard Rajon Rondo, along with some decent players in Jeff Green, Brandon Bass and Avery Bradley. What does that add up too? Something that the Sixers fans know all to well, the “Land of Mediocrity”
I am really not sure what the Celtics are doing. They traded most of their big stars, but didn’t blow it up all the way, by holding on to Rondo. They love what they have with Olynyk, who played extremely well in the summer league. I guess they want to build around Rondo and Olynyk. The Celtics have Brooklyn’s first rounder this year and the Clippers first rounder next year, plus their own pick. The problem? The positioning of those picks. The Nets and Clippers picks will be late in the first round. The Celtics picks could be anywhere in between 10-16. Not many game changers in those lands, unless you get lucky.
They could trade Rondo and really tank or they could wait and see what the Nets do. The Nets are built for the next 2 years, if they don’t succeed, they could blow it. How can that help the Celtics? I forgot to mention that they have first rounders from the Nets in 2016 and 2018 as well.
Last thing, I think Brad Stevens has a very good chance of succeeding. But there are questions surrounding him. Not questions about x’s and o’s, but about how he is going to motivate his players? In college its more like a father and son relationship. When it comes to the NBA it’s about gaining the respect from your peers. That is the challenge for Stevens.
Wins (28-33) Starters (Rondo, Bradley, Green, Olynyk, Sullinger)
Next up are the New York Knicks. Gone are Marcus Camby, Jason Kidd, and Steve Novak. In are Andrea Bargnani, Beno Udrih, and Metta World Peace. Who’s left? Raymond Felton, Tyson Chandler, Stoudemire, and Iman Shumpert. What does that equal too? A solid team. A championship team? Nah…
To me at least, this starts and begins with Carmelo Anthony. Melo’s name has always been tossed around with the likes of Kobe, Lebron, Wade, and Durant. To be honest, he doesn’t deserve it. Yes, he could score with any of those players. The difference? Well, that would be the rest of his game. He just doesn’t have the feel for the game that those players do. Sorry, analytical people, I used the word “feel”. This will be Melo’s last season to prove that he belongs with those names. It also could be his last in the NY. Sorry, Knick fans you still have Stoudemire for at least another year ( 2 years, $45 million left).
To me this team is built on false hope. The hope that Bargnani can fit next to Melo and not hurt them defensively. I can see that working offensively a tad. Defensively? Not so much. Hoping that Metta World Peace and Chandler still have game left, and that J.R. can duplicate his performance from last season. Since his off-season resigning, he’s had surgery (knee) and has been suspended (Drug) for five-games. So his 2013-14 season is off to a rousing start. Hoping that Stoudemire can at least play 20 minutes a game. Hoping that Melo can finally take that next step in his career. That’s a lot of hoping.
Felton is a decent point-guard. He brings physicality to that position, that you don’t see much. Shupmert looks be fully back from his knee injury and that is a good thing for Knicks fans. He could be a break-out candidate. I always like Udrih. I fall in love with some players and it doesn’t really matter how they produce.
Wins (44-47) Starters (Felton, Prigioni, Melo, Bargnani, Chandler)
Next up is the Brooklyn Nets. Gone are Keith Bogans, MarShon Brooks, Kris Humphries, Jerry Stackhouse, F Gerald Wallace, and C.J. Watson. Amazes me that Stack was still even playing. In are Kevin Garnett, Andrei Kirilenko, Shaun Livingston, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry and Jason Kidd. Who’s left? Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Reggie Evans, and Andray Blatche. What does that add up too? Win a title this year or next season. OR BUST...
Obviously, when you first look at this team you think how the chemistry will be and Christ, they’re are old and slow. But, hey, the game slows down in the playoffs and the Nets could have the best half-court team in the league. The first thing that Nets will have to realize is that this team is Deron Williams ‘team. That Garnett and Pierce were brought in to be role players, not the “stars”. They also will have to decide who is the first option on the team offensively? The first option should be Lopez. Let the “big-man” do his thing. The second option should be D-Will and after that, just find who has the better match-up that night.
To get back to the chemistry thing, I don’t see that being a factor at all. Garnertt and Pierce know how to build chemistry and others will follow suit. As for that athletic factor on the wing? My man, “AK-47” will take care of that. Kirilenko can still hoop. I love Reggie Evans. There is a guy that understands his game and stays within his strengthens. More players should learn from him. He was like Livingston, even though he could never stay healthy. Still has game left. Terry still can do some things.
Jason is an interesting factor. He is jumping from the player ranks, right into the coaching world. Can he adjust? Ummm, I think this dude could have been a player/coach his whole entire career. So does that answer the question? Biggest challenges are the Pacers and Lebron’s bunch. This will be fun to watch.
Wins (50-55) Starters (Williams, Johnson, Pierce, Garnett, Lopez)
Lastly, the Toronto Raptors. Gone are Andrea Bargnani, Linas Kleiza, John Lucas III, Mickael Pietrus, and Sebastian Telfair. Does Telfair really do anything on the court? In are D.J. Augustin, Austin Daye, Tyler Hansbrough, and Steve Novak. Who’s left? Kyle Lowry, Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan, Amir Johnson, Terrence Ross, and Jonas Valanciunas. What’s that add up to be? An interesting team and fun to watch.
This team has talent, but will it fit together? They have young talent in Valaciunas and Terrence Ross. They also have underrated talent in Amir Johnson. He is an underrated rebounder. Gay, Lowry, Rozan are all solid players. Hansbrough brings toughness and Augustin brings scoring to the second unit. They have a little bit of everything, except for that ‘star”.
New general manager Masai Ujiri was brought in this summer and comes from the Denver Nuggets team that he built. So the guy knows how to build a team. I am actually, excited to see how this team turns out. They will likely battle for the seventh or eighth seed in the East. I know that doesn’t seem exciting on the surface, but it’s about growth with this team. Lowry needs to rebound from a down year and I think he can. Rooting for the Philly boy. DeRozan has improved his game overall, and will still dunk on anyone’s head. Valanciunas is the key to this team. If he can develop, that will go along way for the Raptors.
Looking forward real quick…If they have success developing their players, the next move should be getting that “star” on this team. Ujiri will have plenty of assets to make that happen for this team, if they develop. The Raptors have $74 million committed to players this season, next season just $48 million according to HoopsHype.com. Though Ujiri will need to make a decision on Lowry (last year of contract). Does he think Lowry is the starting PG of the future?
Wins (38-43) Starters (Lowry, Rozan, Gay, Johnson, Valanciunas)