SI: The Brooklyn Nets Should Win The Atlantic

Updated: October 15, 2013

The prognosticators are out in full force and everyone that has an opinion seems to be sharing it right now about who will win the NBA divisions for the upcoming season.

The Atlantic Division was won by the New York Knicks last season and most of the writers today are picking the Brooklyn Nets and their deep roster to take the division title this season.

[quote_box]As Paul Pierce said so eloquently, “Truthfully, that’s not that important to me. I came here to win a championship. I don’t even want to see an Atlantic banner put up if we win it.”[/quote_box]

Other teams and fans, NYK’s in general, may enjoy division titles but the quest in Brooklyn is much higher than that.

Championship aspirations are running through Barclays Center these days and the season cant get here soon enough.

Here is how sees it playing out:

[box]First Place

  • Brooklyn Nets
  • 2012-13 Record: 49-33
  • Top Addition: Kevin Garnett| Biggest Loss: Gerald Wallace

The Nets took out a second mortgage in order to build the most audacious rotation in the NBA. The team now boasts at least two future Hall of Famers in Andray Blatche high fives Shaun LivingstonGarnett and Paul Pierce, three more All-Stars in the starting lineup and former All-Star Andrei Kirilenko and former Sixth Man Award winner Jason Terry off the bench. One year ago, the Nets were highly paid underperformers who sleepwalked through their first-round loss to the depleted Bulls.

But the arrival of Garnett and the hiring of fellow future Hall of Famer Jason Kidd promises to caffeinate the entire organization. Kidd’s inexperience will be offset by the meticulous preparation of lead assistant Lawrence Frank, who will help make sense of the substitution patterns that will be crucial to the Nets’ success this year. The elderly squad knows better than anyone that nothing is more important than its health.

With seven members of the rotation on the wrong side of 30, including the three former Celtics each 35 or older, their title hopes will depend on them being healthy and fresh going into the playoffs.

The skinny: If the Nets can’t manage their health, their enormous size and experience will go to waste against the younger Heat, Bulls and Pacers.[/box]

[box]Second Place

  • New York Knicks
  • 2012-13 Record: 54-28
  • Top Addition: Andrea Bargnani| Biggest Loss: Jason Kidd

The Knicks will maintain the larger following, but during the regular season they figure to be the second-best team in New York. They’re going to miss the soothing influence of Kidd, and never mind his disappointing scoreless streak to end his career last spring — up to that point he had helped bring out the best in Carmelo Anthony and J.R. Smith.

They remain a lock playoff team, but they carry many questions whose answers may conspire to prevent them from reaching the second round: Will Amar’e Stoudemire be healthy enough to be reliable off the bench? Will Andrea Bargnani flourish as the starting stretch 4 — and will Anthony excel by shifting back to small forward?

Or will the Knicks follow up last season’s division title with a year of fearing whether Anthony will leave as a free agent next summer? Mike Woodson will spend the year preaching patience as the back-page headlines focus on the crosstown Nets.

The skinny: The Knicks must find a way to crack the top four — their playoff run will be short without home-court advantage.[/box]

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