The Atlantic Division struggled last year with some of the worst season in the league. With Boston and Philadelphia making some serious roster changes for this year, it will be interesting to see how everyone else reacts. Will the Nets be able to pull themselves out of their fifth place hole? Can the Knicks win games with a moping Carmelo Anthony? Check out our preview below to find out!
Boston Celtics – It seems all but confirmed that the Celtics will dominate the Atlantic Division in the NBA this year. Coach Dan Stevens has a new roster to tinker with as well as the buzz-worthy trade which landed him All-Star, Kyrie Irving. On top of snagging the talented point guard, Boston also managed to woo impressive small forward, Gordon Hayward, to their team as well. They’re joined by promising rookie, Jayson Tatum, and returning big man, Al Horford. While it doesn’t seem like the Celtics have quite figured out what positions everyone will be playing (especially on the bench), it’s important to note just how talented the four players are above. Their combined talent and chemistry is already very clear and it makes a bit of sense to allow the group to discover how they’ll play best with each other on their own.
Toronto Raptors – Unlike the Celtics, the Raptors don’t have the leadership required to work on the fly. Second in the Atlantic Division last year, Toronto is in serious trouble of slipping further down in rankings. Thankfully, they resigned Kyle Lowry and Serge Ibaka, however neither has been able to step up to have true command of the court. This can be seen through their lack of chemistry and sloppy passes which need to be cleaned up if the team has even a shot of making the playoffs this year. What they can do correctly is defense, especially in the paint, as well as get the ball in the net. However, they lack versatility on both fronts with lack of three-point scoring and no depth at the small-forward position to go up against bigger players defense.
New York Knicks – There’s no way to put this lightly for Knicks fans, but it doesn’t seem likely that the team gets their act together this year. After finishing third last year in the Atlantic Division, New York seems more unhappy than ever with the continued presence of Carmelo Anthony. His attitude along with the front office’s just screams miserable and it’s making its way into the rest of the team. It seems like this will be yet another season with Anthony complaining about New York but with zero trade offers on the table he has no other option but to stay with Knicks. On the plus side, New York does have a few younger players which can give fans a glimpse to a happier future. Willy Hernangomez gets better every year (and looks amazing in the offseason), and Kristaps Porzingis has also been extremely promising overseas this summer. With Phil Jackson and his triangle offense gone, Jeff Hornacek is also another positive change to the Knicks as the head coach who can hopefully get this team back on track.
Philadelphia 76ers – One of the biggest turn-arounds in NBA history? The 76ers definitely look like they could rise from their recent terrible seasons to become one of the better teams in the Atlantic Division. If they can manage to keep their stars healthy, than Philadelphia could have a golden season. Signing J.J. Redick to their team for a whopping twenty-three million dollars was one of the smartest moves Philadelphia could have made. He’s a talented veteran with an astounding shooting ability, but more than that he’s proven to be incredibly hard-working. Back when Redick was coming out of college, he was predicted to have a sub-par professional career because of his weak defensive plays. It’s true, he could’ve coasted by just on his shooting abilities for a few years before eventually playing overseas, but Redick worked incredibly hard to earn his spot as one of the greats in the NBA. His leadership and experience will undoubtedly be a huge asset to this young 76ers team. Not to mention Joel Embiid, a clear All-Star candidate, will be starting out this season as one of the best defensive players in the league. With a massive depth of talented players, Philadelphia could make a playoff run.
Brooklyn Nets – On the other hand, it seems like the Nets are destined to remain at the bottom of the Atlantic Division again this season. D’Angelo Russell and Jeremy Lin will probably be the stand out players on the roster as the two who have more experience along with the proven talent. Unfortunately, that seems to be the only positive for this Nets team. Full of young and unproven players, it’s incredibly unlikely that the team is able to turn around this performance this season. With no true star power, they are guaranteed to out matched every week with no real answers to major offensive weapons. They have a nice depth of bent players but Brooklyn fans shouldn’t hold their breath that their team will make it to the playoffs.
With a lot of young players on every roster, the Atlantic Division could be full of a lot of dark horse playoff teams or quite a few busts. Taking chances to go up against teams like the Cleveland Cavaliers or the Golden State Warriors, is a must in this league so hopefully it pays off. In the meantime, check out our preview of the Central Division next week!