Thursday, December 22, 2011

NBA Eastern Conference Preview: Atlantic

With the NBA season set to tip off in just a few days, we figured we'd go ahead and cram our NBA Preview in, although it will likely leak into the start of the season, seeing that we'll be covering the 49ers and Raiders this weekend as well. But here's our start with the Atlantic Conference in the East.

Atlantic Conference:

First Place: New York Knicks

Starting Lineup:
PG Toney Douglas
SG Landry Fields
SF Carmelo Anthony
PF Amare Stoudemire
C Tyson Chandler
6th: G Baron Davis

As you can see, I like the Knicks this year. I think Carmelo and Amare are going to be like a Shaq and Kobe Part 2. They also have one of the best centers in the game in Tyson Chandler to compose by far the best front court in basketball. If Baron Davis comes back soon and healthy, they'll be even that much better. I even think a perfect fit for them would be a guy like Calderon who could distribute the ball to Amare and Carmelo. The one thing this team does lack, is depth. When Baron heals up in January, they'll be fine at guard, but up front, things are very thin after their starting 3. Al Thornton, AK-47 and Chris Douglas-Roberts (if healthy) are all players I cannot believe aren't employed yet and any one or two would be welcome additions to the Knicks depth-chart. With Ny's expectations this year, I think they'll make that necessary move when it comes time!

2nd Place: Boston Celtics

Starting Lineup:
PG Rajon Rando
SG Ray Allen
SF Paul Pierce
PF Kevin Garnett
C Jermaine O'neal
6th: F Brandon Bass

The Celtics are just about everyone's pick for the Atlantic conference this year, but in a shortened, back-to-back-to-back game season, I fear the aging Celtics are going to wilt. They'll still make the playoffs, but I think New York, especially if they can get a guy like Calderon in here who can distribute the ball to Amare and Carmelo, are going to end up the team to beat in the shortened season. If this were 2005, the Celtics would be kings of the univers, but in 2o12, they don't have enough youth, outside of Rando who they're shopping for some odd reason, to run with quicker younger teams night after night.

3rd Place: Philadelphia 76ers

Starting Lineup
PG Jrue Holiday
SG Jodie Meeks
SF Andre Iguodala
PF Elton Brand
C Spencer Hawes
6th: F Thaddeus Young

Young's so good they had to pay him starters money to keep him around, prompting all the Iguodala trade-talks. As much as Young helps this team off the bench, I think they would have been better off spending that money on Jason Richardson and an upgrade at center. They'd have done that, they'd be challenging the Celtics and Knicks for a playoff spot. Holiday, in my opinion is the 2nd best PG from the 2009's draft behind Steph Curry. They have a lot of talent on this squad and if they put it together, look out Atlantic!

4th Place: New Jersey Nets

Starting Lineup
PG Deron Williams
SG Anthony Morrow
SF Damian Jones
PF Kris Humphries
C Brook Lopez
6th: G MarShon Brooks

The re-signing of Humphries saved their season in a sense. In the dudes last 30 games in 2011, he averaged nearly 15/15 a night. Very similar to former Knick Derek Lee in my opinion. They also have the exciting MarShon Brooks who they drafted in the first round this summer. He should get plenty of time as a 6th man and could overtake Morrow's starting 2-guard spot by mid-season if he plays like he has this pre-season. What they need is a solid wing scorer, a team a guy like Caron Butler would have been a perfect add for.

5th Place: Toronto Raptors

Starting Lineup
PG: Jose Calderon
SG DeMar DeRozan
SF James Johnson
PF Andrea Bargnani
C Amir Johnson
6th: G Jerryd Bayless

The Raptors are a team in full re-build mode and they really should try and pitch Jose Calderon to a team like the LA Lakers who need a point guard badly. Jerryd Bayless is their future there, and they need him, DeRozan and Bargnani all getting valuable time together this season if they want to eventually become contenders. Bargnani needs to start rebounding too, not 5 a night, more like 8-9, he's 7 feet tall and needs to be down low more often.

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