October seems to be the anticipation month of basketball. And when “Green day” vocalist Billy Joe Armstrong sung “Wake me up when September ends,” he may be referring to an up-and-coming NBA season.
You may have to wonder how the Los Angeles Lakers could incorporate the Princeton offense, or how will the Miami Heat defend their championship. Will the Oklahoma City Thunders make it this time? Or will the back court duo between Ricky Rubio and rookie Alexey Shved be the next show time Lakers.
Allow me to dissect each NBA team as I go through this six-part article. Here we will tackle all the team’s newest acquisitions and trades.
The Atlantic division
Dwight Howard could have been the biggest headline for the Atlantic division. Superman could help the Brooklyn Nets go as far as the NBA finals. However, the Orlando Magic decided to move him to a Western team to avoid the four-game confrontation. So Superman went out of the building and went to the Lakers. However, the Atlantic teams are still NBA contenders; this could be Boston’s final run for the finals. The New York Knicks could still be the dark horse along with the Brooklyn Nets. And the Philadelphia Sixers could be the biggest surprise this season, parading the second best center in the league with Andrew Bynum.
New Acquisitions: Darko Milicic, Rob Kurz, Courtney Lee, Jason Collins and Jason Terry.
Rookies: Dionte Christmas, Micah Downs, Kris Joseph, Fab Melo, Jamar Smith and Jared Sullinger.
The Celtics lost their sweet shooting guard in Ray Allen. To make the matter worse, Allen signed with their eastern nemesis- Miami Heat, for a lesser money. However, the hole was quickly filled up after signing Jason Terry and adding up a reliable backup two-guard in Courtney Lee. Darko Milicic might have not live up to expectations. However, with the right kind of guidance and some bashing from Kevin Garnet, Darko could very well improve this season. Remember the Detroit Pistons chose him above Carmelo Anthony, Chris Bosh and Dwayne Wade in the 2003 draft. Maybe they saw a great potential out of Darko, and maybe the Celtics could very well be the right fit for him.
All in all, if healthy, this team could go all the way to the playoffs, but you just have to wonder, how they could handle faster teams and teams with talented centers such as Dwight Howard and Andrew Bynum.
Jared Sullinger could be a solid backup for the aging Kevin Garnet. Although he was flagged by several teams about his back issues, that got him down to the 21st pick last NBA draft, Jared was still very promising on his Pro Summer league debut. He scored 20 points while grabbing six rebounds in 24 minutes of play.
New Acquisitions: Andray Blatche, Josh Childress, Reggie Evans, Joe Johnson, Jerry Stackhouse and C.J. Watson
Rookies: Stephen Dennis, Ilkan Karaman, James Mays, Carleton Scott, Tornike Shengelia, Tyshawn Taylor, Mirza Teletovic
The Brooklyn Nets could have paired Dwight Howard and Deron Williams, and they could wreck havoc in the NBA. But it wasn’t how fate dictates it. Instead, the Nets got small packages that slowly fill up the hole that Dwight could have occupied. The first step they’ve done was to sign back Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, Kris Humphries and Brook Lopez. They added a scoring threat in Joe Johnson. Although Johnson’s unreasonable contract could have eaten up the cap space but adding up an extra scoring threat could always be a welcome acquisition for them. Then, there were the intangibles, the role players who could help them in crucial stretch like Blatche and Childress. Reggie Evans could also help them in defense and physicality. Then they still have Marshon Brooks and CJ Watson, who could be a reliable backup to Deron.
New York Knicks
New Acquisitions: Jason Kidd, Kurt Thomas, Raymond Felton, Marcus Camby and Ronnie Brewer.
Rookies: Oscar Bellfield, Chris Copeland, Pablo Prigioni, John Shurna, Henry Sims and Chris Smith.
The Knicks have bolstered their roster from their offense all the way to their defense. In paper this could be the deepest Knicks team since the Patrick Ewing era. Losing Jeremy Lin to the Houston Rockets was their only setback this offseason. However, Lin would be unhappy if he had to fight for his minutes against the veteran Jason Kidd and reliable backup Raymond Felton. The Knicks also surrounded Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire with defensive centers such as Tyson Chandler, Marcus Camby and Kurt Thomas. They incorporated the once young and immature roster with veteran presence giving New York a much-needed direction. I like the signing of Pablo Prigioni, he is a very good passer and a very good defender who adds more depth for the Knicks.
New Acquisitions: Kwame Brown, Andrew Bynum, Dan Gadzuric, Royal Ivey, Mikki Moore, Jason Richardson, Damien Wilkins, Dorell Wright and Nick Young
Rookies: Arnett Moultrie, Devin Searcy and Maalik Wayns
Losing their long time defensive specialist Andre Iguodala was a very hard decision to do. Andre has been with the organization through thick and thin. However, if Philadelphia wants to move farther from their last playoff’s second round exit, then they have to make a change. And it has been the busiest offseason for the Sixers. They got good backup centers; they amnestied Elton Brand and filled up the two and three positions with veterans and sweet shooting guards. Most of all they got the biggest fish in Andrew Bynum. The new face of the Philadelphia 76ers comes from the hands of the seven-foot 24-year-old center. The Second best center in the league next to Dwight Howard averages 18 points and 12 rebounds per game last season. He commands double teams and most of all; he fills up the inside presence that the team really needs. If healthy, I could see the sixers go all the way to the third round of the playoffs.
New Acquisitions: Landry Fields, Kyle Lowry, John Lucas, Dominic McGuire and Chris Wright.
Rookies: Quincy Acy, Terrence Ross and Jonas Valanciunas
We all know Toronto is a team that is still trying to find their identity. This is still a rebuilding team that is over the salary cap with no remaining exceptions. This is still a dangerous open court team with Jose Calderon, Landry Fields and DeMar Derozan. If their rookie Jonas Valanciunas could live up to expectations, and Andrea Bargnani is healthy all season, then this team could go as far as the first round playoffs. The good thing about rebuilding teams is that there are no expectations.
Watch out for part two as I discuss about the Central Division.