There have been a lot of changes for many of the teams this summer. How much have the teams in the Atlantic Division changed this off season?
First, the Knicks have changed coaches. Gone is the Larry Brown show and in its place will be Isaiah Thomas. The Knicks added Renaldo Balkman and Mardy Collins in the Draft and Jared Jeffries from the Wizards via free agency. The only player they lost was Jackie Butler. Basically, the Knicks look to be pretty much what they were last year.
The Raptors will be a completely different team than we faced last year. They added the number 1 pick in the draft in Andrea Bargnani, who should help them. They brought in TJ Ford, Rasho Nesterovic, and Kris Humphries via trade and Jorge Garbajosa, Fred Jones and Anthony Parker. They should be better if they can build some chemistry and can play together.
The Sixers are basically the same as they were last year other than adding Rodney Carney and Bobby Jones in the draft. I don't see much improvement here. With Webber and Iverson a year older, there is always the possibility of injury, but they just didn't seem to have the chemistry last year and probably won't again this year.
On paper, the Nets look to be improved. They added Marcus Williams, Josh Boone, and Hassan Adams in the draft along with Cliff Robinson via free agency and Mikki Moore via trade. They are also considering adding Jay Williams as a free agent. Jason Kidd, another all star that is another year older, may also be a step slower and injury prone and that is why they are adding some PG insurance. If Kidd and Carter stay healthy, the Nets have to be the favorite to win the division.
This brings us to the Celtics. The Celtics also appear to be improved. Last year's team was better than their record but with all the injuries, they didn't stand a chance. If the team is healthy this year, with no other changes, it would be much improved. But there are improvements, most notably, they have 2 pure point guards who should make a huge difference in the offense. Add to that the fact that several of our young players will be improved and it gives cause for optimism. I feel that the Celtics will be challenging the Nets for the division if everyone can stay healthy this year.
In my unbiased opinion (of course that's not possible), we will have the biggest win/loss improvement in the Atlantic division. We should have been better than .500 last season, but injuries to players who we were counting on to give us production (Jefferson and Allen) kept us out of sync.
If we were supposed to be a .500 team last season, with another year under our belt and our key young players adding more experience, we should be 5 games better than .500 at least (meaning a 46-36 record).
Getting Sebastian Telfair and Rajon Rondo will be a big lift for our success as soon as they start making their impact felt.