The NBA’s Atlantic Division offers three fairly competitive teams, the Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, and Philadelphia 76ers. The Celtics and Raptors have been in the mix for quite a few seasons now, but in recent years the 76ers, a team that has been rebuilding, have not been a part of this group. They could enjoy a promising season. The Brooklyn Nets may be a bit better than last year, but not good enough to be in contention, while the New York Knicks will most likely be at the bottom of the heap in the division. Here’s our 2017- 18 NBA Atlantic Division Preview and a look at each individual team.
The addition of small forward Gordon Hayward, formerly with the Utah Jazz, should help Boston in front, as Hayward brings impressive stats from last season, including 21.9 PPG and 5.4 RPG. He joins center Al Horford (14.0 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.3 BPG) and PF Marcus Morris (14.0 PPG, 4.6 RPG) upfront. However, Morris will miss the first week of the season due to knee soreness. There’s hope that SF and first round, third overall, pick Jayson Tatum (Duke) will contribute immediately. In the backcourt, the Celtics welcome PG Kyrie Irving (25.2 PPG, 5.8 APG, .473 FG%) from the Cleveland Cavaliers. Irving could have a huge impact on this team. Boston is thin at shooting guard. Still, the combination of Hayward, Horford, and Irving along with some fine rookie talent could take this team a long way into the postseason.
Although the Nets and GM Sean Marks are dealing with mistakes and lost draft picks from previous seasons, there is some hope as the team has added PG D’Angelo Russell (15.6 PPG, 4.8 APG, 3.5 RPG). Russell, now in his third NBA season, spent the first two with the Los Angeles Lakers where he was very productive. Also at point is Jeremy Lin (14.5 PPG, 5.1 APG, .438 FG%). Lin had an impressive 2016-17 season. SG Chris LeVert (8.2 PPG, 3.3 RPG, .450 FG%) starts his second season in the league having established a reputation for hard work and having dedicated himself to constant improvement. Brooklyn would like to see more output from players in the frontcourt like center Timofey Mozgov (7.4 PPG, 4.9 RPG, 0.6 BPG) and small forward DeMarre Carroll (8.9 PPG, 3.8 RPG, .400 FG%). This is a team that needs help in the paint.
New York Knicks
If the preseason is any indication of how the New York Knicks’ regular season will go, our 2017- 18 NBA Atlantic Division Preview predicts that it won’t go well. NY lost all five of its preseason contests. One good thing that the team has going for it is third-year PF Kristaps Porzingis (18.1 PPG, 7.2 RPG, 2.0 BPG). He is a solid player who keeps getting better and better. But after that, there are a lot of question marks concerning this team. It’s true that Tim Hardaway Jr. (14.5 PPG, .455 FG% .357 3PT%) is a fine shooting guard who is coming off what was a very good season. With Carmelo Anthony gone, he could have a much bigger role this season. Also, center Enes Kanter (14.3 PPG, 6.7 RPG. 0.5 BPG) offers solid play, but his future is uncertain. Overall, the Knicks are a thin unit.
Philly could be in the playoffs this season. That is if center Joel Embiid (20.2 PPG, 7.8 RPG, 2.5 BPG) can stay healthy. As he starts the season, Embiid is already dealing with both an ankle sprain and knee rehab. Vet PF Amir Johnson (6.5 PPG, 4.6 RPG, 0.8 BPG) may have a tough time with fatigue as the season progresses. As he starts his third year, PF Richaun Holmes (9.8 PPG, 5.5 RPG, .558 FG%) has shown solid potential. Veteran SG J.J. Redick (15.0 PPG, .445 FG%, .429 3PT%) joins Philly after playing with the LA Clippers the last four seasons. This is the premium guard’s 12th NBA season. PG Ben Simmons, the first overall pick in the draft this year, has looked very good in preseason action and should get a lot of playing time. The frontcourt has some health and resiliency issues that may plague this team, especially down the stretch.
The Toronto Raptors offer a good backcourt and pretty solid frontcourt. SG DeMar DeRozan (23.3 PPG, 5.2 RPG, .467 FG%) and PG Kyle Lowry (22.4 PPG, 7.0 APG, .464 FG%) are both talented and skilled. Lowry hit 41% of his threes last season. In front, PF Serge Ibaka (14.8 PPG, 6.8 RPG, 1.6 BPG) and center Jonas Valanciunas (12.0 PPG, 9.5 RPG, 0.8 BPG) are formidable, while SF C.J. Miles brings good scoring chops. In preseason play, Ibaka and Jonas Valanciunas looked primed for this year. The Raptors will give any team in the NBA a run for their money. They are a very fine club.
2017-18 NBA Atlantic Division Preview Final Standings and Quick Hits
Here is our 2017-18 NBA Preview final standing along with a very fast summary regarding each team.
Boston Celtics- Have the personnel to get the job done
Toronto Raptors- Front and backcourts look solid
Philadelphia 76ers- Up and coming, could make playoffs
Brooklyn Nets- Better than they have been but not quite good enough
New York Knicks- With Anthony gone, the team must refocus and reorganize