Dwight Howard’s move to Los Angeles certainly changed the landscape of the Western Confernece back to the Lakers. They have probably the best starting five in basketball and will challenge the Oklahoma City Thunder to take back their Western crown. This blockbuster trade also effected the Eastern Conference, especially the Atlantic Division. This is easily the most improved division in basketball and you can make a case for best.
We all know where the New York Knicks stand. They will be led by Carmelo Anthony , Tyson Chandler, and Amar’e Stoudemire. They improved their point guard position with Jason Kidd and Raymond Felton along with their frontcourt in Marcus Camby. Retaining Steve Novak and J.R. Smith were good moves and adding Ronnie Brewer adds more bench depth. This team is in a win now mode and must win this division to obtain home court advantage in the playoffs for the first time since the 90s.
The new look Brooklyn Nets were able to keep one of the best point guards in the league in Deron Williams and paired him up with swing man Joe Johnson to create the best backcourt in the East. They have size down low with Brook Lopez and Kris Humphries, and a savvy do it all veteran in Gerald Wallace. This team wants to enter Brooklyn with a bang and take over New York basketball and win the Atlantic.
The Boston Celtics lost three point sharpshooter Ray Allen for their only big loss of the offseason. We knew the Big 3 were going to breakup but only losing Allen won’t affect this team much. Allen was asked to do too much, and what you loss in him you gain in Jason Terry. Terry isn’t the same shooter as Ray, but will give you more minutes and better health. They still have Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett as their leaders along with that Rondo guy running the show. He’s pretty good, no? Drafting Jared Sullinger was smart especially with his upside and having Garnett as mentor and Brandon Bass can teach him how to use his big frame. With Doc Rivers still as their coach, never count the C’s out of anything. They came one game short of beating Miami and going to the Finals.
The 76ers got what they finally needed, a consistent scorer and rebounder. This team is young, gritty and fun to watch. Jrue Holiday is only going to get better as he matures and learns the game better under head coach Doug Collins. Evan Turner showed last year he can play in the NBA and be a factor. Elton Brand was their only big man, that changed with Andrew Bynum. At times Bynum played like the best big man in the game. He has two rings and knows how the big stage feels. He is finally the man on his own team and doesn’t have Kobe or Gasol shadowing him. Philly is just what Bynum needed and Bynum is just what Philly needed.
You will be fooling yourself if you think these four teams won’t make the playoffs. It will be a dog fight for the division and every division game will mean a lot at the end. Getting home court is key and avoiding Miami at all costs in the first round is crucial. This Atlantic Division will easily send four teams to the playoffs. You can’t say that for any other division.
Let the games begin.