The 2012 offseason has been a strong one for the NBA's Atlantic Division teams. Following a strong season in which three of the five teams reached the playoffs and combined to win three series, each team has arguably improved itself entering the 2012-13 campaign.
The Celtics re-signed key free agents Kevin Garnett, Brandon Bass, and Jeff Green, only watching the declining Ray Allen walk. Adding to the starting five that carried them within 12 minutes of the Finals, the Celtics built a highly talented bench that enters the season as one of the best in the league on paper. Jason Terry, Courtney Lee, and Jared Sullinger join Green and Chris Wilcox to give the Celtics the depth they lacked in their 2012 run.
The Nets re-signed Deron Williams, Gerald Wallace, and Kris Humphries and will get Brook Lopez back on the court for what they hope will be a full season. They markedly upgraded their shooting guard spot, acquiring Joe Johnson by absorbing his massive contract. They're spending like championship contenders, though they're not at that level. Outside of Wallace, this team could have major defensive deficiencies. Nonetheless, they're all but certain to outpace their .333 winning percentage from 2011-12, likely by a wide margin.
New York Knicks:
The Knicks finished the 2011-12 regular season strong under new coach Mike Woodson. Despite letting Jeremy Lin go to Houston, the Knicks will give Woodson a stronger roster to work with in 2012-13. They brought back Raymond Felton and added veteran role players Jason Kidd and Marcus Camby to revamp their point guard position and strengthen their bench. Felton succeeded in New York under Mike D'Antoni, but it will be a different ballgame in Woodson's system. Still, he and Kidd should represent an upgrade over late season point guards Baron Davis and Mike Bibby. Camby could also be a great short term pickup if he maintains his recent levels of production on the boards.
The Sixers used their considerable swingman depth to make the boldest move of any team in the division when they added Andrew Bynum at the expense of Andre Iguodala in the Dwight Howard trade. Bynum gives the Sixers one of the best frontcourt weapons in the conference and they added some excellent outside shooters (Jason Richardson, Dorell Wright, and Nick Young) to give him room to work. The caveat as always with Bynum is whether he can stay healthy.
The Raptors have their best roster in years entering the 2012-13 season. They acquired Kyle Lowry to take over at point guard without giving up much from their active roster. Andrea Bargnani will return after he was lost to injury for half of last season. Toronto will also add multiple lottery picks: the fifth pick in 2011, Jonas Valanciunas, and the eighth pick in 2012, Terrence Ross. The Raptors are young and talented and likely more of a factor down the road, but they have a chance to compete for a playoff spot right away.
William Menna is a longtime fan of the Boston Celtics and the NBA.
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