The 2013-2014 NBA season is riddled with headlines. From the Miami Heat’s pursuit of their third consecutive NBA title to the return of Derrick Rose to the battle between the Spurs, Thunder, Clippers, and more, the season promises to be one filled with a mix of old and new stars. Here is a preview of the Atlantic Division:
Brooklyn Nets (Last Season: 49-33):
The Nets have had the most talked about off-season in the NBA. Their general manager, Billy King, acquired two future Hall of Famers—Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett—for three first-round draft picks. These players add something the Nets desperately needed: attitude and character. Garnett is notorious for his high-intensity play and sometimes excessive trash talking. The Nets were eliminated in the first round by the shorthanded Chicago Bulls. The Bulls willed their way to victory while the Nets spent their possessions unsuccessfully, waiting for someone to step up and take charge. Pierce and Garnett should help the Nets challenge Miami for the top spot in the East and take over as the best team in New York City.
Key Additions: Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Jason Terry, Andrei Kirilenko, Shaun Livingston, Mason Plumlee, Head Coach Jason Kidd
Key Subtractions: Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries, Marshon Brooks, Keith Bogans
Biggest Question: How can rookie coach Jason Kidd manage this team’s individual egos and keep the veterans fresh for the playoffs?
Prediction: 4th seed out of 8 playoff seeds in the East
New York Knicks (Last Season: 54-28):
The Knicks are trying to build off their best season in nearly 15 years. They finished second in the Eastern Conference, only to get knocked out in the second round of the playoffs to the Indiana Pacers. Their roster is deep this year. They have plenty of offense, starting with the reigning scoring champion, Carmelo Anthony, and sixth Man of the Year, JR Smith; however, with many moving parts and a lack of defense and rebounding, many people are writing off this year’s Knicks’ team. Last year, these same people said that the Knicks were too old to compete, and no “experts” predicted them to win the Atlantic Division. Can the Knicks prove the nay-sayers wrong again?
Key Additions: PF Andrea Bargnani, SF Metta World Peace, SG Tim Hardaway Jr., PG Beno Udrih
Key Subtractions: PG Jason Kidd, F Steve Novak, F Chris Copeland
Biggest Question: This question looms every season with the Knicks: will they be able to play defense and rebound the basketball? The acquisition of Metta World Peace should help the defensive end. Metta, Iman Shumpert, and a healthy Tyson Chandler should solidify some major question marks on that end of the floor.
However, Carmelo Anthony is still on this team. He doesn’t help in either category. Andrea Bargnani, despite being seven feet, is a weak defender and dismal rebounder. Amare Stoudemire is still struggling with his knee issues. If this team wants to compete in the Eastern Conference and have even the slightest shot at a championship, they need to improve their rebounding and consistency on defense. If not, it will be a long season and off-season.
Prediction: 5th seed out of 8 playoff seeds in the East
Philadelphia 76ers (Last Season: 34-48):
Get ready for a whole lot of nothing from this year’s Sixers team. After acquiring Andrew Bynum last off-season, they paid him $16.5 million to ride the bench all year with ridiculous hair. Now the Sixers are hoping they can sit at the bottom of the league all year to get a high lottery draft pick and the young phenom Andrew Wiggins.
Key Additions: C Nerlens Noel (likely to sit out all year with ACL tear), Head Coach Brett Brown
Key Subtractions: G Jrue Holiday, G Nick Young, Head Coach Doug Collins, C Andrew Bynum
Biggest Question: How many games will this team win? 5? 10? 0? Whatever it is, expect this team to compete for the worst record in league history.
Prediction: 15th in East out of 15 teams
Boston Celtics (Last Season: 41-40):
It is clear that this team is in rebuilding mode. After Ray Allen joined arch-nemesis Miami Heat prior to the 2012-2013 season and Rajon Rondo tore his ACL mid-way through the season, it became apparent that the Celtics’ last chance to win another title in the Big Three era was coming to an end, as it did with a first-round exit to the New York Knicks.
Key Additions: SF Gerald Wallace, PF Kris Humphries, G Marshon Brooks, Head Coach Brad Stevens
Key Subtractions: PF Kevin Garnett, SF Paul Pierce, G Jason Terry, Head Coach Doc Rivers
Biggest Question: How will Rajon Rondo respond to his newly acquired teammates and head coach? Rajon Rondo has said that this is now his team and he is happy playing in Boston, but coming off an ACL injury to a team with a considerable amount of lesser talent than he is accustomed to and a new coach at the helms, this remains to be seen. Despite a complete overhaul of the roster and rebuilding in full effect, Rajon Rondo will look to come back healthy from his knee injury and will help carry the load with Jeff Green and Avery Bradley to claim one of the final spots.
Prediction: 8th seed
Toronto Raptors (Last Season: 34-48):
This is an interesting team with solid talent—Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan, and up-and-coming Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas. The Raptors should be better than most people think. They will upset a few teams along the way as they battle for a final playoff spot in the East. With the dumping of Andrea Bargnani’s contract, this team will have some room to rebuild.
Key Additions: F Tyler Hansbrough, F Steve Novak, PG D.J. Augustin
Key Subtractions: PF Andrea Bargnani, G John Lucas III, G Sebastian Telfair
Biggest Question: Who would win in a dunk contest between Rudy Gay, DeMar DeRozan, and Terrence Ross? I’ll take DeMar DeRozan.
Prediction: 11th in East out of 15 teams
To Read Our Other Division Preview: