Tuesday, 25 September 2012

Eastern Conference - A Breakdown of NBA Teams before the 2013 season

Boston Celtics
The Celtics have lost Ray Allen and even those who aren't Celtics fans were shocked by the news.  No-one can replace Ray Allen but the Celtics have done well to pick up Jason Terry, a former 6th man of the year.  Kevin Garnett and Pierce have re-signed and will continue to provide veteran leadership.  Added to Rondo at the point guard and the Celtics have a decent team.  Many feel that the Celtics are unfairly criticized by the media as "old" when teams like the Spurs have a higher average age and continue to be successful throughout the course of the season.  Avery Bradley provided moments of promise throughout the season and during the playoffs (before he was injured).  I doubt the Celtics will have the same season they did last year, but they do have some promising pieces.

Will Rondo be able to lead this aging team once again?

Brooklyn Nets
The big news surrounding the Nets is that they have finally moved to Brooklyn.  Apart from that they've signed Joe Johnson (Mr Overpaid) and re-signed Brook Lopez (Mr I want to grab 2 rebounds a game even though I'm 7 foot tall).  Oh, and Kris Humphries hasn't been 'dropped from the team'.  The Nets should have a better season than last year, and the current roster has some interesting pieces.

New York Knicks
The Knicks have lost Jeremy Lin but this isn't anything to get worried about.  They've acquired veteran Jason Kidd who should provide the 'ball sharing' that the Knicks desperately need.  Hopefully his leadership will provide some guidance for players such as Ama're 'fire extinguisher' Stoudmire on and off the court.  Another big question is whether or not Ama're and Carmelo can finally 'gel' together.  Its a shame that they've invested so much in players like Carmelo and Ama're only for them to not produce to the level which many were expecting.  Many are hoping that the Knicks can have a decent year (basically, make it past the first round) and as a fan of the NBA, I hope so too. 

Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers have lost their best player in the form of Andre Igodalua, however they've picked up Andrew Bynum; a promising center for the future.  Quite a lot can be said about Bynum.  When he's injury free he's certainly a dominating force however his temper and lack of control have shown him to be very immature and at times plain odd.  Most noticeably his flagrant foul against J.J Barea in the 2011 playoffs and his un-charactersitic like 3 point shot vs the Warriors.  Losing Louis Williams, who was candidate for 6th man of the year last season, is also a big loss for the 76ers.  However, they have amended this by acquiring shooting guard Nick Young.  It will be interesting to see how Bynum plays.  Team chemistry is built over time and in the future, after adding other role players to their roster, the 76ers could be a team to reckon with.  I would look for them to finish towards the bottom of the playoff spots.

Toronto Raptors
The Raptors have been one of those teams who have been at the bottom end of the table for a long time.  They have young promising pieces in the form of DeMar DeRozan however this isn't enough to lift them.  Andrea Bargnani was missing for a good portion of the last season and this contributed to their lack of success.

Chicago Bulls
The big question surrounding the Bulls is the fitness of their former MVP Derrick Rose.  He was injured frequently throughout the 2012 NBA season and the Bulls playoffs hopes were shattered last year as he tore his ACL in game 1 of the the first round vs the 76ers.  Doctors say that Rose could be out for up to another 9 months.  If Rose is out for the majority of the season then this will of course have a major effect on the Bulls.  Last year the backup point guards in the form our CJ Watson and John Lucas III did step up on a regular basis, however they're no replacement for Rose.  Luol Deng, who many felt was greatly underrated, was finally recognised and earned a place on the East All-star team.  Carlos Boozer has been a disappointment for the Bulls so far and if they are to progress then he must step up both offensively and defensively (or is that too much to ask?).  This is certainly a new look Bulls as many of the players, such as Kyle Korver, are no longer on the team.  The Bulls were arguably the deepest team in the NBA last year and that is certainly not the case this season.  If they are to finish first in the Eastern conference this year they must look to improve their bench.

Cleveland Cavaliers
When Dan Gilbert made the promise of bringing the championship to cleveland before LeBron had the chance to bring it home to south beach, the Cleveland team were miles away from being a team with a winning % and the truth is they aren't much closer now. The summer leauge was not kind to Cleveland and key players were injured. Most notable Kyrie Irving, who is the only player capable of stopping cleveland from being in the lottery for the third year in a row. Tristan thompson will be glad Anderson Verajao is back & will now be able to slot into his more favoured power forward position and Zellers will add depth. Byron Scott will have to pull off a miracle still be head coach this time next year. 

[Written by Astley Denzel]

Detroit Pistons
The Pistons are far from their glory days of the early 2000s and have struggled in recent years.  Rodney '50 Cent' Stuckey is a promising guard and Will Bynum has played well in stretches over the last few years.  Austin Daye is a young player with potential and Tayshaun Prince can provide veteran leadership for him and the rest of the team.  Greg Monroe is a solid player who has room to develop.  He had a decent year with the Pistons last season average 15 points and 10 rebounds (rounded).  It will take time for the Pistons to get back to the level they were at in the early 2000s, but they're heading in the right direction.

Indiana Pacers
The Pacers are a strong team.  They may not have a 'superstar' player but they are a very physical team and they proved this in the playoffs last year against the Heat.  They did lose the series but proved that at time they can run with the best of them.  Roy Hibbert has emerged as a dominant center in the league.  He has a lot to learn due to in-experience but has proved that he is worthy of the all-star standard which  he earned last season.  Danny Granger has somewhat faded in dominance from his breakout Most Improved Player of the Year season but is still a solid player.  Additions of Leandro Barbosa add speed and depth to the team.

Milwaukee Bucks
The Bucks are a solid team.  In fact they were top 5 in defence a few years back.  However, with the absence of Andrew Bogut due to him being traded one must wonder how good they will be defensively this year.  The addition of scorer Monta Ellis along with Brandon Jennings at the point guard position should provide some entertainment but there is only one ball on the court.  It will be interesting to see what this year holds for the Bucks.  I would look for them to finish towards the bottom of the playoff spots.

Atlanta Hawks
The Hawks no longer have Joe Johnson after he signed with the Nets.  However, this many not be as big a loss as people perceive it to be.  Many felt that Joe Johnson was the most overpaid player in the league and that he had continually come up short over the course of his career with the Hawks.  Al Horford was injured for the majority of the NBA season last year and his presence on the team should improve their overall play.  Josh Smith continues to be a consistent defender and has also improved his offensive qualities and looks more comfortable shooting the 18+ foot jumpshot.  With Al Horford's return Smith has someone of a decent standard to play with and this should improve team chemistry.  I would look for the Hawks to finish between 5th and 8th spot in the eastern conference.

Charlotte Bobcats
THE BOBCATS NEED TO WIN MORE GAMES.  There's nothing more to say really.  The Bobcats had a nightmare season last year and they need to improve this!  If such play continues Michael Jordan may have to step down from the head office and start playing! (A man can hope can't he?)

Miami Heat
Miami Heat were the best team in the NBA last season by a mile & they kept the foot on the gas in the postseason by acquiring not only the greatest 3 point shooter of all time and a veteran who has won a title, but they added number 7 on the active 3 point scoring list: Rashard Lewis; both of who's 3 point shooting has previously prevented LeBron in his pursuit of a ring. Miami will be stronger at the point guard position as both Norris Cole & Mario Chalmers will be back and undoubtedly better. The center Position is still the achilles heel and the Miami front office has not made any bold moves to correct this, but as last season proved, the Heat will get on just fine regardless.

[Written by Astley Denzel]

An image LeBron tweeted of Ray Allen in a Heat jersey!

Orlando Magic
The loss of Dwight Howard is major to the Orlando Magic.  In additon to losing the 3 time defensive player of the year, they have also given up valuable pieces such as the current   Most Improved Player of the Year in the form of Ryan Anderson.  In the 4 team trade with Dwight Howard they also gave up a great deal of players.  The Magic are in for a tough season but hopefully they can work some magic (sorry) and return to the team they once were.

Washington Wizards
The Wizards added center Nene shortly after the all-star break, but gave up Javale McGee.  It will take more then the talents of Nene and John Wall to raise this franchise back to what it once was.  Hopefully the Wizards will be able to work some magic (sorry) and acquire so more pieces throughout the course of the season in order to push them up the table.  I don't expect any miracles and frankly many players would rather become free agents than sign to the wizards.  I would look for them to finish between 10th - 15th in the Eastern conference.

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