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IUSportCom’s Max Gabovitch takes an in-depth look at the Atlantic Division of the NBA
2011-2012 Regular Season: 39-27
Playoffs: No. 4 seed in Eastern Conference, lost in Eastern Conference Finals (Atlanta 4-2, Philadelphia 4-3, Miami 3-4)
Key Additions: Jared Sullinger (Draft), Fab Melo (Draft), Kris Joseph (Draft), Jason Collins (FA), Jason Terry (FA), Courtney Lee (Trade)
Key Subtractions: Ray Allen (FA), Greg Stiemsma (FA), Jermaine O’Neal (FA), Ryan Hollins (FA), JuJuan Johnson (Trade), E’Twaun Moore (Trade), Sasha Pavlovic (Trade), Sean Williams (Trade), Keyon Dooling (Retired)
2012-2013 Outlook: The Boston Celtics faced questions about whether they were too old before last season, and they didn’t respond well, going 15-17 before the all-star break. However, they bounced back nicely, going 24-10 during the second half of the season and finishing 29-27 overall, earning the fourth seed in the East. They continued that second half success into the playoffs, reaching the Eastern Conference Finals and taking the Miami Heat to a game seven. Despite that success, the Celtics face the same questions of age, as Kevin Garnett is now 36 and is entering his 17th NBA season after coming straight out of high school, and Paul Pierce is entering his 15th NBA season and will be 35 on October 13th. The departure of Ray Allen definitely hurts, but the additions of Courtney Lee and Jason Terry should help offset the loss. Rajon Rondo has continued to play at a very high level, but also has been immature and a distraction at times. Boston did have a nice draft, getting Jared Sullinger with the 21st pick due to injury concerns, a big man with potential in Fab Melo with the 22nd pick, and a nice second round pick in Kris Joseph. I think that the Celtics still have two good seasons from Garnett and Pierce, and despite the loss of Allen, they improved this offseason. The Celtics should be a top four seed in the East again this season.
New York Knicks
2011-2012 Regular Season: 36-30
Playoffs: No. 7 seed in Eastern Conference, lost first round (Miami 1-4)
Key Additions: Kostas Papanikolaou (Draft), Ronnie Brewer (FA), Jason Kidd (FA), Pablo Prigoni (FA), Chris Smith (FA), James White (FA), Marcus Camby (Trade), Raymond Felton (Trade), Kurt Thomas (Trade)
Key Subtractions: Jeremy Lin (FA), Landry Fields (FA), Toney Douglas (Trade), Josh Harrellson (Trade), Jerome Jordan (Trade), Jared Jeffries (Trade), Dan Gadzuric (Trade)
2012-2013 Outlook: The Knicks have had the talent to be a top team in the East for the past season and a half, but have not been able to put it all together. Last season, they were the East’s seventh seed and narrowly avoided a first round sweep at the hands of the Heat. I think this is the last season to see if the Amare/Melo duo can work, and if they aren’t at least a top five seed, they will get rid of Stoudemire. I also think that the Knicks had a terrible offseason plan. The team spent money on Jason Kidd and Kurt Thomas, who will both turn 40 before the end of the season, as well as Marcus Camby who will turn 39 in March. They did do a good job re-signing J.R. Smith and Steve Novak, but did not match Houston’s offer sheet to Jeremy Lin, and lost restricted free agent Landry Fields as well. Tyson Chandler is the reigning defensive player of the year, and Iman Shumpert proved to be a great defender last season as well, but won’t be available to start the season after tearing an ACL and lateral meniscus in the playoffs. I’m not sure what to make of the Knicks, as the talent seems to be pretty good, but the chemistry has not been. I’ll say that everything clicks for New York and they become a top five seed in the East, but I don’t say it confidently.
2011-2012 Regular Season: 35-31
Playoffs: No. 8 seed in Eastern Conference, lost second round (Chicago 4-2, Boston 3-4)
Key Additions: Arnett Moultrie (Draft), Royal Ivey (FA), Nick Young (FA), Kwame Brown (FA), Maalik Wayns (FA), Andrew Bynum (Trade), Jason Richardson (Trade), Darryl Watkins (Trade), Dorell Wright (Trade)
Key Subtractions: Jodie Meeks (FA), Lou Williams (FA), Andre Iguodala (Trade), Maurice Harkless (Trade), Nikola Vucevic (Trade), Elton Brand (Amnesty)
2012-2013 Outlook: The 76ers had a fairly normal offseason to start, signing Nick Young and letting Lou Williams walk, signing Kwame Brown, drafting Arnett Moultrie and Moe Harkless, and waiving Elton Brand via the amnesty clause. Then, Philly was able to work their way into the Dwight Howard trade, sending Andre Iguodala to Denver and Harkless, and Nikola Vucevic to Orlando in exchange for Andrew Bynum and Jason Richardson. Bynum is a young, talented player who still has plenty of potential, but has also shown his immaturity. He also is a free agent following this season, which makes the trade risky. If Bynum re-signs with Philadelphia after the season, this was a terrific trade by the 76ers, but if he leaves, they gave up a lot for one season with Bynum. Richardson is a nice addition as well, but I think overall, the Sixers are at about the same place as they were last season. This is a playoff team, but not much more than that.
2011-2012 Regular Season: 23-43
Playoffs: Missed playoffs (11th in Eastern Conference)
Key Additions: Terrance Ross (Draft), Quincy Acy (Draft), Tomislav Zubic (Draft), Jonas Valanciunas (2011 Draft), Landry Fields (FA), John Lucas III (FA), Jerel McNeal (FA), Chris Wright (FA), Kyle Lowry (Trade)
Key Subtractions: Jerryd Bayless (FA), Gary Forbes (Trade), James Johnson (Trade)
2012-2013 Outlook: The Raptors lost a few rotation players, but overall they improved significantly. Terrance Ross and Quincy Acy both look like they can be solid contributors, Kyle Lowry is a very good point guard while John Lucas III is a good back-up, and Landry Fields is a nice addition as well. However, the biggest move by Toronto was signing the fifth pick in the 2011 draft, Jonas Valanciunas, a 6’11” center from Lithuania. It is going to be fun to watch this 20-year-old in the NBA, and he has Raptors fans excited for good reason. He played 69 games last season with the Lithuanian team Lietuvos Rytas, and averaged 11.7 points, 7.4 rebounds, and 1.7 blocks in just 23 minutes per game. I’m looking forward to seeing how his game translates to the NBA level. Former number one pick Andrea Bargnani has not lived up to expectations, but has quietly been improving in recent seasons, although he dealt with injury last year and played in just 31 of 66 games. The Raptors will be significantly better this season. I don’t think they are a playoff team yet, but they will contend for the eighth seed and are headed in the right direction.
2011-2012 Regular Season: 22-44
Playoffs: Missed playoffs (12th in Eastern Conference)
Key Additions: Tyshawn Taylor (Draft), Tornike Shengelia (Draft), Ilkan Karaman (Draft), Keith Bogans (FA), Jerry Stackhouse (FA), Mirza Teletovic (FA), C.J. Watson (FA), Andray Blatche (FA), Joe Johnson (Trade), Reggie Evans (Trade)
Key Subtractions: Gerald Green (FA), Jordan Farmar (Trade), Anthony Morrow (Trade), Johan Petro (Trade), DeShawn Stevenson (Trade), Jordan Williams (Trade)
2012-2013 Outlook: The Nets biggest change this offseason was the move from East Rutherford, New Jersey to Brooklyn. However, they also made a major personnel move, trading for all-star shooting guard Joe Johnson. While the Nets were looking to get Dwight Howard from the Magic, they were able to improve their team despite missing out on him. They also completed the most important task of the offseason – re-signing Deron Williams. They added C.J. Watson as his back-up and got Andray Blatche as a solid addition to their frontcourt. Gerald Green left in free agency after a breakout season in New Jersey and they lost Anthony Morrow and DeShawn Stevenson in the trade for Johnson, but I like the moves they made this summer. I think the Nets make the playoffs in their first year in Brooklyn, and the Atlantic division may be the best in the NBA.