Quickly surveying the Atlantic division, we can see it’s deep in the point guard position (Rajon Rondo, Deron Williams, Kyle Lowry, Jose Calderon) and with pretty good big men (Kevin Garnett, Amare Stoudemire, Tyson Chandler, Brook Lopez, Andrew Bynum).
The best starting five we could come up with for this division? We went with a point guard – shooting guard combo. Not big believers in two shooting guards, even if one of them (Deron Williams) scores over 20 points per game. One had to go. It’s a bit more flexible with big men, because a true center is getting rarer and rarer these days. Having two power forwards seems a bit better to us.
Point Guard – Rajon Rondo (Boston Celtics)
Why Rondo edges out Deron Williams? The regular season numbers, when it comes to scoring, are clearly going in the favor of the Nets point guard. Rondo averaged 11.9 points and 11.7 assists per game last season, leading the NBA in assists. Deron Williams averaged 21 points and 8.7 assists. So why does Rondo get the nod? Because at their best, Rondo has, well, more. Suddenly, the jumpers start dropping, and when that happens, he’s close to unstoppable. Williams is the inferior defender and the inferior floor manager. Both are players that improve vastly when it’s playoff time, but Rondo plays like an MVP at times in the postseason.
Shooting Guard – Joe Johnson (Brooklyn Nets)
Atlanta shipped his huge contract (over $80 million on four years) to the Brooklyn Nets, who are hoping Johnson is still a borderline all-star performer, making the last six AS games. He averaged 18.8 points for the Hawks last season, shooting 38.8% from beyond the arc. His defense has taken a step back, and so has his speed, but Johnson is still one of the better and consistent shooting guards in the NBA during the regular season, plus that versatility factor which makes him able to play at Small Forward and even lead the ball when necessary.
Small Forward – Carmelo Anthony (New York Knicks)
When you don’t compare Anthony to LeBron James and Kevin Durant, you suddenly realize how good he is. An injury kinda hurt his scoring last season, dropping it to 22.6 per game, his lowest since 2005, but Anthony should be boosted by having his kind of offense being run by Raymond Felton and Jason Kidd and hopefully some kind of boost from a very good summer with the Dream Team in London, averaging 16.3 points per game.
Big Man I – Amare Stoudemire (New York Knicks), probably at Power Forward
You don’t have to have a center, or a true center these days, which gives us a nice option to play around with. Stoudemire, like Anthony, suffered from a bit of a down season last year. Injury and the Jeremy Lin effect. He played less (32.8 minutes) and his scoring fell to only 17.5 points per game after over 25 on his debut season with the Knicks. It should be better for him this year, but the problem is the focus on Carmelo under Woodson. Stoudemire needs fast kind of basketball to thrive, and I’m not sure he’ll be getting it this season as well.
Big Man II – Kevin Garnett (Boston Celtics), probably at Center
Seperated from his back injury from over a year ago, Garnett looks like one of the best big men in the NBA, even at 36. The fire in his eyes and the passion when he plays defense or his ability to hit those jumpers only few can helped push the Celtics within one win from the NBA Finals. He averaged 19.2 points and 10.3 rebounds during the postseason, and will be playing a lot at center this season for the Celtics as well.