Out of all the major sports, I think when it comes to predictions and rankings; the NBA is the most fun. You can argue over the top teams and top players for hours because it all depends on your opinion of style of play and what you expect out of certain teams and players. Here’s Buckets Over Broadway’s full NBA preview:
Atlantic Division Standings
The Atlantic Division is now officially owned by New York City. The New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets are expected to be one of the top rivalries in the NBA this season. The players, owners, franchises, and entire fan bases hate each other and fully believe that their team is winning the division this season.
1) New York Knicks
PG: Raymond Felton/Pablo Prigioni/Beno Udrih
SG: Iman Shumpert/J.R.. Smith
SF: Carmelo Anthony/Metta World Peace
PF: Andrea Bargnani/Amar’e Stoudemire
C: Tyson Chandler
Has the Knicks’ window closed? Maybe, but you can say that for everyone but the Miami Heat and maybe the Indiana Pacers. The Knicks made two moves this summer in acquiring Andrea Bargnani and Metta World Peace, two big name players. Carmelo Anthony is in his prime and hopefully can continue on his scoring rampage from last season while next summer is looming over him.
The big question as always is the health of Amar’e Stoudemire. If the Knicks can just keep him off the DL, they can use his offense while Carmelo sits. I really think Bargnani is going to do great with a fresh start in New York. World Peace will bring much needed toughness to this team. Iman Shumpert needs to develop into a legit scoring option and take the heat off Felton and J.R. Smith
This might be my Knicks bias kicking in, but I think it will be a let down if the Knicks didn’t win the division for the second straight season. I respect what the Nets did this offseason, but still the Knicks are better. The Knicks have another year of chemistry under their belt along with another year of Mike Woodson.
2) Brooklyn Nets
PG: Deron Williams/Shaun Livingston
SG: Joe Johnson/Jason Terry
SF: Paul Pierce/ Andrei Kirilenko
PF: Kevin Garnett/Reggie Evans
C: Brook Lopez/Andray Blatche/Mason Plumee
The Knicks have Anthony and the Nets don’t. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are Hall of Famers but can they do it for one more year? We have seen super teams built before and just flat out fail. I don’t think team chemistry will hurt the Nets like it did the Los Angeles Lakers last year because there aren’t super egos like Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard, but there are egos, certainly. Injuries can also limit the Nets, as Brook Lopez, Deron Williams, Paul Pierce, and Kevin Garnett all have injury past. There are too many players who love to score and only one basketball. Deron Williams needs to be a leader on the court for the first time in his career as his team has championship dreams. How will Jason Kidd handle a tough situation with a player who is friends with? Don’t overhype the Nets/
3) Toronto Raptors
PG: Kyle Lowry/D.J. Augustin
SG: DeMar DeRozan/Terrence Ross
SF: Rudy Gay/Steve Novak/Landry Fields
PF: Amir Johnson/Tyler Hansbrough
C: Jonas Valanciunas
As for the Raptors, they are leaning on Rudy Gay to be their franchise player. They let solid players like Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon leave last year. The bottom half of the East is up for grabs, but I don’t think the Raptors are a realistic team to take a spot. I think they ultimately trade Rudy Gay to a contender, like the Bulls, and go into rebuilding mode….again. Andrew Wiggins is fro Toronto by the way.
4) Boston Celtics
PG: Rajon Rondo
SG: Avery Bradley/Marshon Brooks/Coutney Lee
SF: Jeff Green/Gerald Wallace/Jordan Crawford
PF: Brandon Bass/Kris Humphries/Jared Sullinger
C: Kelly Olynyk
The Celtics have accepted that their reign in the East is over and have hit the reset button. With Rajon Rondo hurt, Jeff Green is their best player right now. Jeff Green is as inconsistent as it gets and I believe is a 3rd option at best for a good team. Brad Stevens worked wonders at Butler but I think both him and the Celtics organization know it will be a couple years before the Celtics are relevant again. I believe the Celtics will go all out and trade Rondo before the deadline. He’s their most valuable player and can get the most for him. It would fun for him to go to a place like Indiana to play with Paul George, Roy HIbbert, and David West.
5) Philadelphia 76ers
PG: Michael Carter-Williams
SG: Jason Richardson
SF: Evan Turner/Royce White
PF: Thaddeus Young
C: Spencer Hawes/Lavoy Allen/Nerlens Noel
I expected the Philadelphia 76ers to be the worst team in the league this season, and that was before Nerlens Noel was out for the season. Evan Turner is probably their best player so that basically sums up the 76ers. Trading Jrue Holliday was writing on the wall for Philly and the Noel injury was a risk in the first place but it’s sad to see him out already before playing a second.