1. Boston (2nd in the East)
2. Toronto (5th In the East)
3. New Jersey (6th in the East)
4. New York (Missed)
5. Philadelphia (Missed)
Let's start at the bottom. Philadelphia is now in rebuilding mode, so after AI (Andre...), they don't seriously have enough talent to make a push for the playoffs (although last year's mini-run was impressive with their roster, AI may soon become a great leader). New York... is well, New York. And of course when I say that I mean their team is being run by Isiah Thomas, and all I can say is he has done nothing positive for this team in his time in the front office. How this year will be any different for NY is just unreasonable to me. I mean another fat-headed former all-star that happens to be overpaid? SIGN ME UP!
Making the playoffs: New Jersey and Toronto. These guys will be battling it out for the middle of Eastern conference. Although any team with Carter as the "leader" doesn't sound like they will go far. But I'm not gonna just toss the book on Kidd either. Although aging quickly, I have enough faith that Kidd knows how to win and will have another good season. Also expect Nenad to come back strong and make a good impact (however I expect Moore to decline, if he's even still there..). Toronto I don't think improved much with the Jason Kapono signing, as they already had some great young shooters. I only expect Bargnani to improve throughout the season and continue to work on his jumper (mini-dirk?), however their lack of coaching might really hurt them during the season.
Far and away leader: Boston. The Celtics really distinguished themselves as the best in the Atlantic division, if not the Entire Eastern conference during this draft. Tossing away a crappy white guy and an average young player and bringing in the best shooter in the league combined with one, if not the toughest, slashers in the league in Paul Pierce. Last year, many people forget the Celtics had the most injuries in the league. There was a stretch of the season where Pierce missed 24 consecutive games where the Celtics went an astounding 2-22. Of course not to mention how Wally played about 10 games, Perkins missing 40, Tony Allen missing the entire season, West being out at least 19 games, and Telfair s*cking up the league, really hindered their chances of any kind of playoff push. In result of this, many people are putting the Celtics are 8, or NOT EVEN MAKING THE PLAYOFFS AT ALL (
) . The truth of the matter is; they have the quickest up-and-coming star in Al Jefferson, who already has arguably one of the inside games in the league, and the next coming of a mini Glove in Rajon Rondo (great pass-first point guard with hands the size of Shaq...) give the Celtics the perfect combo of an inside-out game possible.