Tag Archives: Atlantic Division

Eastern Conference Preview: Atlantic Division

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  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.

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Toronto Raptors

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.

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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.

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Philadelphia 76ers

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.

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Boston Celtics

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.

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Brooklyn Nets

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.

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Deserved All-Star Reserves

 

While NBA fans have their vote to be accounted for, All-Star selections continue to become to lose its significance while turning into a popularity contest. It has benefitted many players such as Golden State Warriors guard Stephen Curry and Indiana Pacers forward Paul George among first time starters in the All-Star game. Yet, it becomes a difficult process when there are players going unnoticed due to the marquee players in the league. Here are those player who deserve an invite to New Orleans to be an All-Star.

Western Conference

LaMarcus Aldridge- Portland Trail Blazers

     Make no mistake that forward LaMarcus Aldridge is having a  MVP season thus far.  Portland’s early season success has been led by Aldridge who is averaging a career high in points and rebounds as they have matched their win total from the previous season. Aldridge has certainly been the catapult for that success as he looks like he is in the prime of his career.

 

Chris Paul- Los Angeles Clippers

Before the shoulder injury to Chris Paul, the Los Angeles Clippers were clicking on all cylinders. While average double digit numbers in points and assists, Paul has arguably been the best point guard in the association as he is responsible for his teams 42 points per game. Due to the injury, his goal is to return in time for the game.

 

David Lee- Golden State Warriors

David Lee has played himself into the All-Star conversation and deserves a second consecutive selection to New Orleans. While Curry has stepped into the leadership role, Lee’s productivity has not regressed from last season as he becomes a reliable second option for Curry and the Warriors to go to.

 

Damian Lillard- Portland Trail Blazers

The Portland Trail Blazers are one of few NBA teams who deserve multiple All-Star bids for the exceptional play of Damian Lillard. Picking up where he has left off last season, Lillard has continued to play with poise and leadership from the second year player. Hitting back to back game-winning shots on the road, he has shown us why four years of college basketball can groom a player before making the leap into the NBA.

 

 

DeMarcus Cousins- Sacramento Kings

Kings center DeMarcus Cousins deserves an All-Star spot for what he has done on the court for Sacramento. With dramatic growth in his maturity, Cousins may be the best offensive center in the game today with career high averages in points, rebounds, and steals. The Kings are not having large amounts of success in wins, but they continue to improve this season starting with the man in the middle with an opportunity to join the USA Men’s Basketball roster.

 

 

James Harden- Houston Rockets

James Harden is the best shooting guard on the offensive side of the ball in the Western Conference. Leading his team in scoring at 23.7 ppg, Harden is still growing as his game evolves to a higher level. However, the Houston Rockets will need him to lead the way in order to take off and make a championship run.

 

Dwight Howard- Houston Rockets

After a nightmare season in Los Angeles as a Laker, Howard hasn’t had the ideal season that would silence his critics. Only averaging 18 points per game from 17 the previous season, he has not lived up to expectations as the next great Rockets big man. However, Howard’s ability on the defensive end makes him an All-Star in the Western Conference. There aren’t many prolific centers in today’s NBA which is a positive for him to flourish as an All-Star.

 

Eastern Conference

Demar Derozan- Toronto Raptors

     Since the Rudy Gay trade, the Toronto Raptors have found success led by the play of the dynamic swingman Demar Derozan. Evolving into a premier shooting guard in this league, he is having an all-star caliber season averaging career high numbers in points, rebounds, and assists as the Raptors sit atop of the Atlantic Division while maintaining a steady mindset geared towards the postseason.

 

Joakim Noah- Chicago Bulls

Joakim Noah is the heart and soul of the Chicago Bulls as they thrive through the adversity of injuries and trades for another season. His intangibles have became a healthy virus to his teammates that is preached by head coach Tom Thibodeau. Noah is the least flashy player on this list, but he plays with 110% effort every night and plays for more than the name on his back. Noah might not be the most talented in New Orleans if he gets the nod, but he certainly will be the most passionate, energized, and the hardest worker.

 

 

John Wall- Washington Wizards

If the season would end today, the Washington Wizards would clinch a playoff berth led by the terrific play of John Wall. After signing a $80 million dollar extension, Wall has been spectacular displaying his talents to the world. While averaging a career high 20 ppg, Wall is confident he will lead the Wizards into the postseason. We should see some dazzling highlights in the All-Star game if he is named as a reserve.

 

Chris Bosh- Miami Heat

Due to the problematic knees of Dwyane Wade, various NBA fans have a found new respect and appreciation for what Chris Bosh does for the Miami Heat. Some nights, he is being asked to defend the opponents best low post player while carrying a heavy set of the offensive load. Numbers do not tell the story of how much Bosh means to this Miami team as he will be counted on. The playoffs should definitely be indicative of Bosh’s worth and/or future in Miami.

 

 

Lance Stephenson- Indiana Pacers

Indiana’s early success during the regular season has been somewhat predicated on the play of Lance Stephenson. As he leads the league with three triple doubles, Stephenson is having fun where there are nights when he is the Pacers best player with playmaking abilities that catches the crowds attention.

 

Roy Hibbert- Indiana Pacers

Roy Hibbert is the NBA’s best defensive post player in the association. Being the backbone and last line of his team’s defense, he is a natural NBA center with old school post moves in the paint that we don’t see today. He may not necessarily be box office or must see TV, but Indiana deserves multiple All-Stars.

 

 

Kyle Lowry- Toronto Raptors

In a contract year, while being the topic of discussion in trade rumors, the play of Kyle Lowry has warranted himself an all-star bid to New Orleans this season. Becoming a jack of all trades in Toronto, Lowry is averaging a career high in points and assists as he pairs well with Derozan to lead the Raptors on a mission of being division champions and ultimately earning himself a lucrative contract in the near future.