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NBA Preview: Atlantic Division

Joe Johnson
1. Brooklyn Nets
2. New York Knicks
3. Toronto Raptors
4. Boston Celtics
5. Philadelphia Sixers

Rookie Report
Kelly Olynyk, F/C, Celtics
The Gonzaga big man is a proven scorer and will help in the paint immediately, which is very important, considering Jared Sullinger will most likely miss the start of the season.
Nerlens Noel, C, Sixers
The Sixers traded away established star Jrue Holiday for Noel, who is proven shot-blocker with an evolving offensive game. It was a risky move but it gives Philadelphia a big man to work with right away.
Mason Plumlee, PF, Nets
The most talented Plumlee is a great pickup late in the first round for Brooklyn. He is a double-double machine who has the potential to be a star.
Tim Hardaway, SG, Knicks
The Knicks are hoping that Hardaway will give them the shooting and smarts that they sometimes lacked last year.

This offseason, it was made quite clear that the Nets want to and believe they can win it all. After picking up Deron Williams and Joe Johnson, Brooklyn struggled to find its way early and although they ended up the No. 4 seed in the East last year was considered a disappointment. The addition of Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce bring yet more star power and more expectations for the Nets. Along with that trade came sharpshooter Jason Terry and the Nets also brought in Andrei Kirilenko, giving them experience and veteran leadership. Kirilenko, who played decent last year in Minnesota, is a force when healthy but rarely is. Although they were one of the NBA's most consistently good teams last year, the Knicks never really seemed like real Finals' threats. In order to match, Brooklyn's impressive signings, New York responded by bringing in Metta World Peace and Andre Bargnani, who won't help much. World Peace can still play lockdown defense but he is definitely nearing the end of his career and Bargnani, a former No. 1 overall pick still isn't a legit big man. Carmelo Anthony had one of the best years of his career last year. He finally seems comfortable in New York and has the pieces around him which helps him get open shots as teams can't just focus on him, which happened in Denver. The Knicks brought back J.R. Smith, who was effective at times, but is far too inconsistent for my taste. He could well be one of the NBA's best scorers but he takes dumb shots and turns the ball over. If he continues to makes bad decisions, the Knicks could look for more minutes from rookie Tim Hardaway. They aren't real contenders but considering how weak the East is at the bottom, consider the Raptors as a playoff threat. Rudy Gay, who was brought in towards the end of last season is a proven scorer and provides a solid foundation but he isn't going to be an elite player. Explosive guard DeMar DeRozan is back on the Raptors roster and he will form a great backcourt combo with point guard Kyle Lowry. Along with second-year guard/forward Terrence Ross and D.J. Augustin, Toronto appears to have a solid group of players. But, it will be the same old news for a while with the Raptors; they don't have the star power to be real threats. They're hoping center Jonas Valanciunas can turn into the big man they need, something Andrea Bargnani never was. The Celtics knew that the rebuild had to start some time. Some time Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett weren't going to be wearing Celtics' jerseys and now is that time. Luckily, for new coach Brad Stevens he does have Rajon Rondo to work with who he has already formed a great relationship with. Jeff Green, who was more of a role player the last few years with Boston the past few seasons, will be expected to step up in big ways. Boston didn't get snubbed to bad in the Nets trade, at least they got hard-working forward Gerald Wallace and MarShon Brooks is an elite perimeter scorer. It appears the Sixers are also starting their rebuild and both are doing it at a great time with this next year's draft being so impressive. Nerlens Noel has the potential to be a great NBA player but it remains to be seen if he will play much better this season, as he is still recovering from that torn ACL. Another rookie, Syracuse product Michael Carter-Williams who is a proven playmaker, will fight for minutes from the start. This team does still have Evan Turner, who has struggled in the NBA to this point, and Thaddeus Young but the rest of this roster is full of bench players.

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