The 2013-2014 NBA season’s finally on the horizon so put your right hand up, put your left hand up if you can’t wait. Preseason struggle basketball is nearly over and we should all clap since this is David Stern’s last season at the helm. TSS kicks things off with a preview for the Atlantic Division.
Pundits and fans often tout the first place race as a battle between you know what and you know who. There’s more to the Atlantic than the fight for New York. Check out each squad’s outlook and get mad in the comments. Now let’s go.
We’ll be previewing each division individually for the next few days, so stay tuned.
Photo: Getty, NBA.com
What To Like: The 2014 NBA Draft is only 249 days away.
What Not To Like: There’s a whole lot of basketball to play until then.
Random Note: This Philly squad doesn’t inspire much hope as Michael Carter Williams goes through rookie growing pains and the Thad/Turner tag team have the pleasure to shoulder most of the team’s offense. Nerlens Noel can’t play until December and the jury’s still out on how his game translates to the pro level.
Edit 10/21/13: Sixers head coach Brett Brown recently announced Nerlens Noel might be out for the season, welp.
What To Like: The Nets got their “heart transplant” per Billy King via their trade for KG, Paul Pierce and Jason Terry. They also added Andrei Kirilenko to the mix which enhances the squad’s depth.
What Not To Like: Jason Kidd currently forbids KG from play in half of the team’s back to backs. He’s their best pick n’ roll defender on a team otherwise lacking dependable pick n’ roll stoppers outside of Andrei Kirilenko. Their half court defense awaits issues if they can’t defend the league’s go-to move. Joe Johnson also loves to dribble down the shot clock despite have four past and present All-Stars in the starting lineup. Transition offense and defense may also be an issue as the squad’s short on athletes built to run the floor.
Fix this sh*t, Kidd and The Gang. Thanks.
Random Note: You made all this noise, now what? The Nets’ additions won’t mean anything if there’s no chemistry *cough*Lakers*cough.* Brooklyn can be a formidable club, but Jason Kidd really has to instill camaraderie, accountability and a fluid offensive scheme to make the dream work. It’s a tall order for the first year head coach so let’s see if he’s capable.
New York Knicks
What To Like: The Knicks’ core group of Carmelo Anthony, J.R. Smith, Raymond Felton and Tyson Chandler have another year to grow. Amar’e’s back and Ron Artest-Peace is on the Knicks now so that’s pretty cool, too.
What Not To Like: Carmelo set a dark cloud over their campaign with his free agency talks. You’d think his exit from Denver would’ve taught him a thing or two about how to STFU. Yet, here we are with another distraction set to become unbearable well before the trade deadline.
Random Note: There lateral off-season moves leave more questions than answers. Ron Artest-Peace isn’t the defensive stalwart of yesteryear, but he should instill more discipline on the perimeter. I’m still scratching my head over the Bargnani pick up, though. Knicks fans quickly espouse his ability to stretch the floor so Carmelo can work the block. Too bad Bargnani’s a defensive liability and wildly inconsistent. He’s also a confidence-driven player and, given the icy-hot nature of Knicks fans and NY sports media, he might be a disaster waiting to happen. Let’s not forget their additions didn’t address team needs like rebounding, transition play and a plan B to perimeter scoring.
The Knicks can still race for the division title but leadership issues persist. A four seed our lower isn’t out of the question given Brooklyn’s emergence.
What To Like: Toronto’s Dinos have a pretty solid back and mid court connection going between Kyle Lowry, DeMar Derozan and Rudy Gay.
What Not To Like: The Raptors’ bench remains suspect. Landry Fields is also loving the $20M life Toronto gave him too much. He’d be the city’s LSNIC if not for some kid named Aubrey.
Random Note: Hedge those bets. The bottom seeds of the Eastern Conference are pretty weak and maybe, just maybe, the Raptors can steal a playoff spot. Their offense should be fun to watch between high flyers like DeMar Derozan and Terrence Ross along with Rudy Gay’s late-game heroics. Head coach Dwayne Casey also quietly and steadily improves the Rap’s defensive focus and young players ever year since joining the squad in 2011. Toronto definitely has no where to go but up. Yet one has to wonder about their glass ceiling this year.
What To Like: Rajon Rondo’s still a top class point guard and Pete Rock’s cousin Jeff Green has his chance to prove himself.
What Not To Like: Boston’s looking at a rough transitional year after six straight trips to the playoffs. Also, fans need to brace themselves for Gerald Wallace’s airball layups.
Random Note: Brad Stevens may or may not be the latest example in the “Curse of the College Coach.” Stevens unfairly inherits a basket of lemons when he became Boston’s head coach this season. Plus he’s on good terms with Rondo now, but time should reveal how their relationship withstands a probable losing record in January.