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NBA Atlantic Division Preview

The Atlantic division is arguably going to be the worst division in the NBA for the second year running. The teams from this division that made the postseason were the Toronto Raptors, Brooklyn Nets and Boston Celtics.

Adam Silver has made the rule change where teams will be seeded based on overall record which would be bad news for this division. Who will reign supreme in this division? Let’s find out.

TORONTO RAPTORS

The Raptors were largely irrelevant for years after Vince Carter jumped ship in the early 2000s. However, once head coach Dwane Casey got there in 2012, their fortunes changed. Casey simply hasn’t gotten the respect he deserves for his coaching performance during the regular season. The Raptors are clearly talented and have built well through the free agency and the draft.

This is a team led by DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, two players who have earned All-Star appearances over the last couple of years. They have solid, young players in Jonas Valenciunas and Terrence Ross who will only get better and they drafted Delon Wright out of Utah to help with depth at guard. Another low key addition was DeMarre Carroll who had a career season with the Atlanta Hawks last year.

What to Watch for:

DeMarre Carroll will be a huge addition to this team because of his ability to be a wing defender and shoot from three point land. Those are two things that the Raptors sorely lacked last season, they also improve their rebounding and defense inside with the addition of Bismack Biyombo. This team is good but they also benefit from the fact that the rest of this division stinks. The Raptors should repeat as champions of the Atlantic division.

NEW YORK KNICKS

There’s no two ways around it, the Knicks were an abomination last season. Phil Jackson made the shocking move of drafting Kristaps Porzingis 4th overall this past June. Knicks fans will be hoping that he can eventually become the next Dirk Nowitzki despite his wiry frame and the fact that he’s only 19.

The Zen master made some solid moves in the offseason, this team finally a bench worth of making a playoff spot. Aaron Afflalo and Kyle O’Quinn come over from Orlando, Robin Lopez from Portland, and Derrick Williams from Sacramento. The Knicks also made one of the moves of the draft by trading away Tim Hardaway Jr. for rookie PG Jerian Grant.

What to Watch for:

Carmelo Anthony has been sitting on the sidelines for a very long time and he’s probably very tired of hearing the talk that this team can’t compete in the East. Melo is going to come back with a vengeance this year and do the majority of the scoring for the Knicks.

Aaron Afflalo is one of the few players who will actually fit the mystic Triangle offense and be a solid secondary scorer as well as be a lock down defender.

Jerian Grant will win the starting job over Jose Calderon and Langston Galloway and Robin Lopez will be fan favorites all season. This is Derek Fisher’s time to prove he can really coach now that he has a legitimate team with talent. Hopefully this team will finish around .500.

BOSTON CELTICS

The Boston Celtics were one the surprises of last season in the NBA with 40 wins. Brad Stevens continues to produce results regardless of the talent he has. He did it at Butler and now he’s taken his defensive style and his analytics to the Celtics. Stevens and GM Danny Ainge have assembled a team that is filled with college basketball stars who have defined skill sets.

David Lee and Amir Johnson will give this team more of a veteran presence. Evan Turner isn’t necessarily efficient but he can score, Avery Bradley can get it done on both ends of the floor,  plus Jared Sullinger and Marcus Smart will only improve.

What to Watch for:

This Celtics team almost looks like a carbon copy of his teams at Butler. There isn’t a lot of offensive talent on this team but they have the ability to suffocate you defensively and their overall effort night in and night out is among the best in the NBA.

There is a lot of talk among experts saying that this team could potentially win 50 games but that doesn’t seem likely with this roster. The Celtics will probably finish around .500 as well but you can never count out a Brad Stevens coached team to do some damage in the Eastern Conference.

BROOKLYN NETS

The Brooklyn Nets are basically a shell of themselves with Deron Williams, Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce all out of the picture. What’s left is three key pieces, Joe Johnson, Brook Lopez and Thaddeus Young.

Lionel Hollins is a defensive minded coach who continues to try and instill that in a team that doesn’t do much defending. The fact that they added the walking corpse of Andrea Bargnani won’t make this team any better.

The only thing this team can be happy about is the addition of Rondae Hollis-Jefferson through the draft. Jefferson was expected to be a lottery pick with tremendous athleticism and defensive ability and fell to the 23rd pick.

What to Watch for:

Jarrett Jack will be productive as the starting point guard but how far can he help lead this team? Joe Johnson is still as clutch as they come but he isn’t getting any younger, Brook Lopez doesn’t play defense and hasn’t played a full season since 2010-2011.

The only other reliable option would be Thaddeus Young and he can only do so much for the Nets. This team can compete in the Eastern Conference but the majority of the NBA will likely have their way with the Brooklyn Nets. This team may sneak into the playoffs but that would be the best case scenario.

PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

GM Sam Hinkie’s strategy of tanking and compiling draft assets seems like a never ending cycle. Three years in a row they’ve drafted some of the best big men the draft has seen in some time. Joel Embiid still hasn’t seen the floor, Jahil Okafor will be a force offensively and Nerlens Noel will be a freakish defender and rebounder.

However, outside of those three players this team is essentially a D-League All-Star team. The former Murray State product Isaiah Canaan could win the starting point guard spot over Tony Wroten Jr. but that’s a stretch.

What to Watch for:

Other than Okafor and Noel, the only decent player on the roster who will play a key role is former Tennessee State player Robert Covington. He’s a 6′ 9″ wing defender who was also the teams leading scorer last season. Covington should see an added increase in minutes. The only veteran on the team is Carl Landry who will be eager to just see some time on the floor.

The bottom line is that the 76ers still won’t be very good and the rebuilding process will continue. The question is how much longer can 76ers fans wait on Sam Hinkie’s project to success. Only time will tell, but for now the sixers will still be one of the worst if not the worst team in the NBA.

PREDICTED ORDER OF FINISH:

  1. Toronto Raptors

  2. New York Knicks

  3. Boston Celtics

  4. Brooklyn Nets

  5. Philadelphia 76ers

 

 

 

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