The Atlantic division will be a fun one to watch this season as the Boston Celtics, Brooklyn Nets, New York Knicks and Philadelphia 76ers battle for division supremacy. Sorry Raptors’ fans….Toronto is just not good enough to compete.
Let’s take a look at the division.
Boston Celtics- Head Coach Doc Rivers
- 2011-2012 record: 39-27 (4th seed)
- Key additions: Courtney Lee and Jason Terry
- Draft picks: Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo and Kris Joseph
- Key losses: Ray Allen, Keyon Dooling, Marquis Daniels and Greg Stiemsma
The original “Big Three” was officially broken up this off-season, when Ray Allen took his talents to South Beach. However, Boston will still function with a “Big Three” since they still have Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo on the roster. With Jason Terry in the line-up, Boston fans might not even miss Ol’ “Ray Ray”. The return of Avery Bradley will be significant. Doc Rivers will have his squad ready as the Celtics are the favorites to win another division title.
Brooklyn Nets- Head Coach Avery Johnson
- 2011-2012 record: 22-44 (As the New Jersey Nets)
- Key additions: Andray Blatche, Josh Childress, Reggie Evans, Joe Johnson, Jerry Stackhouse, Gerald Wallace and C.J. Watson
- Draft picks: Tornike Shengelia, Mirza Teletovic, Tyshawn Taylor, James Mays and Stephen Dennis
- Key losses: Anthony Morrow, Jordan Farmar, Gerald Green and Johan Petro
The Nets’ organization have made some serious moves lately. None more significant than the move to Brooklyn. Joe Johnson will make this team a division contender. Very few teams have a back-court that can contend with the likes of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. This back-court tandem will dazzle fans at the new Barclay Center in Brooklyn.
New York Knicks- Head Coach Mike Woodson
- 2011-2012 record: 36-30 (7th seed)
- Key additions: Ronnie Brewer, Marcus Camby, Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd and Kurt Thomas
- Draft picks: Oscar Bellfield, Chris Copeland, Pablo Prigioni, John Shurna, Henry Simms and Chris Smith
- Key losses: Baron Davis, Toney Douglas, Mike Bibby, Landry Fields, Jeremy Lin, Jared Jeffries, Jerome Jordan and Josh Harrellson
When the Knicks added Tyson Chandler last season, the defensive production increased. Adding Marcus Camby to the mix should making New York even better defensively. Although Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd will be great assets, the Knicks still lack an identity offensively. Look for New York to struggle this season as they will stumble into the playoffs as a low seed.
Philadelphia 76ers- Head Coach Doug Collins
- 2011-2012 record: 35-31 (8th seed)
- Key additions: Andrew Bynum, Kwame Brown, Nick Young, Dorell Wright and Jason Richardson
- Draft picks: Maalik Wayns, Arnett Moultrie and Devin Searcy
- Key losses: Andrea Iguodala, Elton Brand, Jodie Meeks, Sam Young, Tony Battie. Nikola Vucevic and Louis Williams
Finally, the 76ers have a franchise player in Andrew Bynum. Philadelphia will also have young talent surrounding Bynum like Evan Turner, Nick Young and Jrue Holiday. Doug Collins is a great coach. He has brought a new culture to Philly. With a healthy Bynum, it’s possible that Collins can steer his team to its first division crown since Larry Brown did it in the 2000-2001 campaign.
Toronto Raptors- Head Coach Dwane Casey
- 2011-2012 record: 23-43
- Key additions: Kyle Lowry and Landry Fields
- Draft picks: Terrence Ross, Quincy Acy, Jonas Valanciunas and Tomislav Zubcic
- Key losses: Jerryd Bayless, Gary Forbes and James Johnson
Toronto is a poor offensive team that lacks a solid shooting threat. The defense is definitely the team’s strength and should improve this season. Toronto added Kyle Lowry and Landry Fields, both whom will help the Raptors. However, this organization is in rebuild mode and even if the sky were to fall, they will still finish dead last in the division.
By Keith Madyun