Toronto got off to a rough start to the season, with an offense that revolved around isolation jump-shots, and a putrid league-worst defense. But then they traded their leading scorer, and, alas, huge improvements. The Raptors have been the third-best team in the East since the trade and are excelling on offense, with a mediocre yet not league-worst defense.
While the team has playoff hopes for the first time in years, they are not s true contender in an Eastern conference that looks certain to yield just two contenders: Indiana and Miami.
First Half Grade: B
2. Brooklyn Nets 18-22
The Nets are on a hot-streak right now and look to be the only, if nonexistent, challenger to Indiana and Miami, with a talented big 3 featuring Deron Williams, Joe Johnson, and Paul Pierce.
Brooklyn lost all hopes of prevailing over one of the East's (two) powerhouses when star Center Brook Lopez went down to a season-ending broken foot injury, his third break on that foot. Deron Williams has not played in many games this year either, due to ankle issues, they'll need him to come back at full-strength if they want to win a playoff series.
First Half Grade: C
3. New York Knicks 15-26
Star Center Tyson Chandler is back from injury, and it's a good thing to. The Knicks were incredibly mediocre without Chandler. Perhaps he can elevate them into the playoffs.
Swingman J.R. Smith has caused locker-room problems and the team is actively looking to ship him elsewhere, while Point Guard Raymon Felton is suffering through the most inefficient season of his career, and the team has a whole has shown a lack of effort on both ends of the floor.
First Half Grade: C-
4. Boston Celtics 14-29
Franchise player Rajon Rondo is back from an ACL injury, and has started to round back into form. General Manager Danny Ainge has also managed to trade valuable assets in order to obtain multiple high draft picks, and if the team can get lucky just once and land a franchise-building player in the draft, it could spark a new era in Celtics basketball.
When your teams #1 option on offense is Jeff Green, you aren't exactly a playoff contender. The C's will miss out on the playoffs this year, but their future is definitely bright.
First Half Grade: D+
5. Philadelphia 76ers 13-28
Once again buried at the bottom of the Atlantic (Division), there has been a silver lining in the teams disappointment: rookie Point Guard Michael Carter-Williams not only looks like a lock for Rookie of the Year, but a franchise player that can be an All-Star one day.
Apart from Carter-Williams' emergence, their hasn't really been anything good for Philly thus far this year.
First Half Grade: D
Atlantic Division All-Team (through the first half)
PG Kyle Lowry, Toronto Raptors
SG Demar Derozan, Toronto Raptors
SF Jeff Green, Boston Celtics
PF Carmelo Anthony, New York Knicks
C Jared Sullinger, Boston Celtics