NBA Atlantic Division 2011-12 Preview
Mr. Basketball is back to preview the NBA Atlantic Division!
By Michael Illiano
The National Basketball Association is back, which means Mr. Basketball is back too.
Yes, I have been in hiding, but am ready for NBA action once again. Coming off probably the most exciting season in a decade and a brutal lockout, it is time to preview this season and there is a great deal to be discussed.
Today, we'll be breaking down each team by division--starting with the Atlantic.
Projected Starting Lineup:
- G-Rajon Rondo
- G-Ray Allen
- F-Paul Pierce
- F-Kevin Garnett
- C-Jermaine O'Neal
The defending Atlantic Division champs come into this season with issues of age and lack of depth as the questions. However, one thing that can't be questioned about the Celtics is their effort and efficiency. The Celtics came into camp a little out of shape, according to a head coach Doc Rivers and were winded pretty quick. Celtics GM Danny Ainge tried to pull off multiple moves in the offseason and failed. Ainge fell short in his plays for Chris Paul and David West. Trading "Big Baby" Glen Davis to Orlando for Brandon Bass was the only real move the Celtics made. They lost Shaquile O'Neal and Nenad Krstic aka what little size they had at the center position. That means injury-prone Jermaine O'Neal and Chris Wilcox are the men holding the fort down for KG. That's a scary thought.
The Celtics still have their core in Rondo, Pierce, Garnett, and Allen, but this season was supposed to see Pierce's minutes diminish with the increased playing time of Jeff Green. The news of Green being out for the season, due to heart issues, is just another devastating blow to an aging team, who lost a ton in offseason and gained very little. The shortened season and the Celtics' old legs mean that they will have a long season in store and could finish as low as sixth or seventh in the Eastern Conference.
Short season + age + Celtic savvy and ability to win = Anywhere from 37-42 Wins and a first-round exit in the playoffs.
New York Knicks
Projected Starting Lineup:
- G-Mike Bibby
- G-Landry Fields
- F-Carmelo Anthony
- F-Amare Stoudemire
- C-Tyson Chandler
My ears have been bleeding from Knicks fans moaning for too long. It is time they start looking at things positively.
First, this is the most excited a Knicks fan should be in almost a decade going into a season. Second, you have one of the best frontlines in basketball now, and third--the rest of the Atlantic Division right now is in limbo. Why can't the Knicks take the division? In fact, I am picking them to win the Atlantic Division this season.
The point guard slot is an issue for the Knicks, but Bibby and newest signee Baron Davis came at such a discount that there is little risk and high reward should they pan out. It is not like the Knicks could have gotten anything better in their current state, since falling out of the Chris Paul sweepstakes. They never had the assets to make any real play for Paul, so Bibby and Davis at a lower rate is fine. If any Knick fan wants to worry, then they should ask more legitimate questions such as:
Is Tyson Chandler the player people think he is? According to his numbers, he is not a $60 million player http://www.basketball-reference.com/players/c/chandty01.html
No one is saying he can't help because he certainly will, but maybe the Knicks overestimated what he does and are paying him off of one good year. I seem to remember them doing the same with Jerome James.
[Editor's Note: Tell me he didn't just compare Chandler to JEROME. JAMES. #LOL. In Mr. Basketball's defense, he is referring to the Knicks' past of careless spending, but for younger fans, don't be fooled. Chandler has been a solid starter on any NBA team the last few seasons. Whether he's worth 60 mill is another story for sure. And yes, as a Knicks fan, the memory of James still scares me--as does the Allan Houston deal. And the Eddy Curry deal. And the Stephon Marbury deal. And...well, you get the point.- Fred Richani]
Will Mike D'Antoni's lack of defensive principals limit the Knicks against the juggernauts of the Eastern Conference?
Will those old point guards they signed hurt the Knicks?
Is the Knicks bench deep enough?