Welcome to the NBA Season Previews, where the crew does the three-man weave today on the Atlantic Division. Enjoy as Earl, Joao and David kick off the NBA Season.
Earl: Well this is an easy answer to give because the drafting by the five Atlantic teams were pretty poor. The Sixers drafted two players in Joel Embiid and Dario Saric who won’t play this year. Saric isn’t even in the NBA right now and is likely two years away from a negotiable buy out with his European team. The Raptors drafted a player that isn’t even NBA caliber. The pick was so panned on draft night that I don’t even remember his name. Real talk. The Knicks and Nets have some second rounders on their roster, but outside of Cleanthony Anthony with the Knicks, I don’t see much there.
So pick one of the Celtics rookies as the Impact Rookie. So, I’ll go with Marcus Smart. Why? Rajon Rondo just broke his hand and he’ll eventually be dealt away.
Joao: The Sixers shut down Nerlens Noel for the entire last season and they might do the same thing this season with Joel Embiid. So the safer pick is going with Marcus Smart of the Boston Celtics; the 6th overall pick of this year’s draft will make an instant impact in Boston, especially if/ when Rajon Rondo isn’t able to play.
David: I’m actually going with Nerlens Noel here. He’s had a year to sit and watch, he’s on a crappy team, and he can do one thing that any coach is going to love.
He can rebound. As long as he can keep cleaning the class, he’s not going to be sitting on the bench, until the Sixers start to win and they have to bench him to make sure they lose more. He has to work on his shooting, but Lord Knows no one on the Sixers will give a shit if he shoots 50 times a game.
Impact Free Agent
Earl: Jarrett Jack didn’t come to the Nets by free agency, but his addition to the Nets (via a three team deal with Cleveland, and Boston in July) should make him the impact newcomer in the division. He’ll likely be the first man off of the bench to spell Deron Williams and/or Joe Johnson but I also expect he’ll play extensive minutes with both guards late in games.
Joao: This division had a dearth of free agent signings so the choice is particularly easy. It’s Evan Turner and the Celtics. Turner was a rising player for the 76ers before being traded to Indiana; he didn’t play much for the Pacers and reportedly had a toxic relationship with teammate Lance Stephenson. Moving to another team is the best thing that could have happened for Turner, even if that team are the struggling Celtics. But Turner can go back to his 2013-14 output of 17 PPG, allowing the Celtics to field a good backcourt with Turner and Rondo (if the latter is healthy).
David: I’m looking at Evan Turner as well. He’s on a team with a GOOD coach, one that wants to win, and wants to push defense and talent. Turner is going to be fun in Boston, if he has anything left mentally.
MVP of the Division
Earl: I have the Nets winning the division, so in order to do that they are going to need a return to All-Star prominence for Deron Williams. Now, I am no Deron Williams fan. Personally I think he’s too soft to be a star in my hometown of Brooklyn, New York BUT if the Nets are going to win the Atlantic he needs to get his game back to where it was when he was with the Jazz. Can he do it? I’m not 100% convinced but as long as he is healthy, he should improve his game under new coach Lionel Hollins.
Joao: Carmelo Anthony seems to be fired up. While he knows that the Knicks have a subpar roster, his comments about him being “underrated” (that’s his opinion, not mine) seem to show that he is willing to prove his elite status this season. He won’t play much defense but he’ll be the top scorer in this division, its brightest start
David: Carmelo is again the pick. This division is ripe for the pickings, might be the worst division in the league, and if ‘Melo wants to be in the discussion as an actual great player, he has to grab this year and this division by the throat. With Amare about to be gone- and the Great Philbo going to redo the roster in his own image, Carmelo has to show off and show that he is worth coming to New York for. If Melo plays like has has, little help defense and a me-first offense, then the Knicks are going to be looking like the Ray Allen Bucks.
Least valuable Player
Earl: Evan Turner. I just don’t know why the Celtics added the former #2 overall pick when they have Jeff Green, and James Young on the roster. Turner came pretty cheap, but I just don’t see the fit looking at the roster, and I don’t think he’s that good. The Celtics would have been better off passing on Turner and adding another big man using his roster spot.
Joao: I have mentioned concerns regarding the health of Rondo, Lopez and Embiid but I’ll save this slot for JR Smith. He’s an emotional trainwreck and he actually regressed last season. He’s a problem waiting to happen, one that will challenge the Knicks’ rookie coach, Derek Fisher… especially if the Knicks aren’t off to a decent start.
David: Isn’t is always Amare? 23 MILLION with one year left.
I’ll go with Jeff Green as the heir to the throne.
|SG||DeMar DeRozan||Joe Johnson||Joe Johnson|
|SF||Carmelo Anthony||Carmelo Anthony||Carmelo Anthony|
|PF||Miles Plumlee||Amir Johnson||Jared Sullinger|
|C||Kelly Olynyk||Jonas Valanciunas||Tyson Chandler|
(44 wins – 38 losses)
| New York Knicks
(41 wins – 41 losses)
|New York Knicks||Toronto Raptors|
| Toronto Raptors
(40 wins – 42 losses)
|Brooklyn Nets||Brooklyn Nets|
| Boston Celtics
(35 wins – 47 losses)
|Boston Celtics||New York Knicks|
| Philadelphia 76’ers
(22 wins – 60 losses)
|Philadelphia 76ers||Philadelphia 76ers|
Earl: I got family in Toronto, it’s a City I’ve visited numerous times and I have much love for the T. Dot a.k.a. the 6 (for the area code 416). So, hell yeah I think Toronto will be a viable free agent destination. Yes the winters are incredibly harsh but it’s a cosmopolitan City with rabid fans. Look at last year’s playoff series against the Nets. Did you see how amped that crowd was? Who wouldn’t want to play in front of that. If that isn’t a good enough draw for you, how about this. Drake. The rapper? Yup, the rapper. Drake has brought the eyes of the World to Toronto, and it might not be bad to be that man’s friend. Yeah, play for the Raptors, hang with Drake and take in a show at Club Paradise. Why not?
Joao: Not really. But the same can be said about several other cities/ teams. The funny thing is that the Raptors have actually been able to build a respectable playoff team, a young one at that. So their focus right now needs to be on keeping those players around.
David: I think Toronto can be one of the better second-class free agent destinations in the NBA. The problem is there just isn’t much history there, and the one building block they did get- fled to Miami to be part of the Big Three. I will say as more states start taxing professionals the tax-hit that Canada takes is not going to be as bad as in years past, and the major metropolitan area is going to be looked at more and more as a leverage point by the second-tier superstar. It may never be in the NY/LA/Hou/Chi/Dal/Mia axis, but on par with Orlando, Golden State and Philly? Certainly.
Earl: The NBA has no choice to allow it but I am curious to know where the Sixers are going with this. Noel and Embiid can play together in the front court, when they are both able to, because Noel is the defensive ying to Embiid’s offensive yang. Saric as I mentioned earlier is at least three seasons away. Can he play at this level? Who the hell knows. I’m not crazy over Carter-Williams and the 2015 draft is loaded with big men at the top which means the Sixers will very likely be adding another center in next year’s draft. Tanking hasn’t allowed the Sixers to build a team. They are just acquiring pieces. Can their GM flip them? My magic 8 ball says doubtful.
Joao: The NBA should definitely do something about it. There is currently a proposal to change the way odds are calculated for the draft lottery, so as to make tanking a less effective strategy. I totally agree that is the best way forward and I believe most teams will support such a change.
David: I’m not sure what they can do, and Philly might be case #1 on anti-tanking. I got a good idea, how about you are not allowed to have more than 2 top 5 picks in a 5 year period? Sad to say, its not like the Sixers are not going to not have good attendance, considering quite a few fans will show for any NBA Team, and you have automatic sellouts for a half-dozen teams, and most of those tickets are only available in a package, and ANY NBA team is profitable right now.
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