The Atlantic division of the Eastern Conference took a turn of events in the previous season with the Toronto Raptors winning the division with ease, while the New York Knicks & Brooklyn Nets struggled to play catch up after horrific starts to the season. There were many changes to each team in the division, which may have an impact on who wins the division. In addition, like any division race, the Atlantic will have an effect on the entire Eastern Conference playoff picture.
After trading Rudy Gay, the Toronto Raptors made progress during 2013-14 season. Despite an early first round exit in the playoffs to division rival Brooklyn Nets, they were able to win its division led by first time all-star Demar DeRozan the point guard Kyle Lowry. The addition of Lou Williams and the continuing improvement of Lithuanian center Jonas Valanciunas improves the arsenal for head coach Dwayne Casey as they look to take the next step.
New York Knicks
The saying “In Phil we trust” has many faithful Knicks fans cheering ecstatically for the upcoming season. Phil Jackson will continue to run basketball operations along with the re-signing of Carmelo Anthony and the debut of the new head coach Derek Fisher. The Knicks are looking forward to the upcoming season led by Anthony working himself into great shape after last year’s disappointing season riddled with injuries and lack of discipline. With the addition of Jose Calderon and a rising star in Tim Hardaway Jr. coming into his own, expect New York to rebound from the debacle that was last season.
The future is bright for the Philadelphia 76ers going forward as as they continue to rebuild. Head coach Brett Brown will have the reigning Rookie of the Year point guard Michael Carter-Williams, he will receive some front court enforcement from Nerlens Noel and the team’s number one pick Joel Embiid waiting in the wings to make his debut. He will also have the courtesy of coaching six rookies that may lead to long gruesome 82 game season. With the teachings of Brown coming from the coaching tree of Greg Popovich, they will continue to improve everyday as a team.
The growth of second year head coach Brad Stevens will be key as he was put in a comfortable situation with little pressure with the Boston Celtics. Acquiring young assets through the NBA Draft with the likes of Marcus Smart & James Young adds to the core of players featuring Avery Bradley and Jeff Green. With that being said, what happens to Rajon Rondo? The four-time NBA All-Star has expressed his feelings about being traded. We will have to await if general manager Danny Ainge is willing to give up its franchise player for the value he is offered.
The Brooklyn Nets are looking forward to moving on from the Jason Kidd head coaching experiment after Kidd decided to taking his head coaching abilities to the Milwaukee Bucks during the offseason. Being replaced by former Memphis Grizzlies head coach Lionel Hollins, the team will look to get off to a faster start to the season. They will also look to have a full healthy team with Brook Lopez returning and Deron Williams being a hundred percent after having a subpar season to his standards. The Nets will have to play at a high level consistently throughout the season in order to compete in an improved Eastern Conference.