With October quickly approaching, it’s about time to look at each and every NBA division and their potential for the upcoming season. Today, we will do a deep dive into the Atlantic Division and predict which teams have what it takes to grab a playoff spot.
The Boston Celtics were one of the NBA’s best teams last year. So how could they possibly improve? Well, they went out and signed one of the best small forwards in the NBA.
Gordon Hayward is one of the NBA’s best players just hitting his prime. Coming fresh off his first all-star appearance, Hayward is ready to take the next step in his career and finally rise to MVP level. There is no doubt that the Gordon Hayward signing was a huge improvement for the Celtics, but it was not the only improvement Boston made to its lineup this year.
Due to their blockbuster trade with the Brooklyn Nets a few years back, the Celtics held the first overall pick in this year’s draft. They then traded that pick to the 76ers for the third pick along with some other future first-rounders. Boston then used that pick to draft scoring prodigy, Jayson Tatum. This Crazy Celtic offseason has set them up for the following starting lineup to start the 2017-18 NBA season.
PG- Isaiah Thomas
SG- Gordon Hayward
SF- Jae Crowder
PF- Marcus Morris
C- Al Horford
This is a starting lineup that is Finals ready. If Cleveland does end up dumping Kyrie Irving, it would be no surprise to see the Celtics swoop in and take down the threshold LeBron has had in the eastern conference. One signing that does get lost in all of this absurdity is the addition of Marcus Morris. Morris is a classic enforcer who will give your team an edge defensively. Only to also expose your defense on the offensive end due to his versatility. It is clear that barring any major injuries, the Celtics will easily walk away with this division.
Regular Season Record: 55-27
The Toronto Raptors are stuck in a pit they may never get themselves out of. After spending years gearing up to take down the mighty LeBron empire, the Raptors may have overlooked a sprouting clove.
Although this could be the year the Raptors finally take down the Cavaliers and get by that juggernaut, they may run into a Celtics team that has a both mental and physical advantage. And even though the Raptors have been able to keep their main core together throughout this journey, it does not seem enough to take the eastern conference away from other such competitors. However, the Raptors will once again be 50+ win team in a decimating Eastern Conference and will have a chance at competing for their first ever Eastern Conference Championship. Going into the 2017-18 regular season, Toronto will step on the floor with this lineup.
PG- Kyle Lowry
SG- DeMar DeRozan
SF- C.J. Miles
PF- Serge Ibaka
C- Jonas Valanciunas
This is clearly a lineup centered around beating a Lebron James team. the Raptors organization made that very clear last year when they made the move to acquire Serge Ibaka as they realized the Cavaliers were getting whatever they desired inside with no rim protector on the Raptors roster. So just like the Celtics, if the Cavaliers are forced to dump Kyrie because of his demands for very little in return, LeBron may not be holding that Eastern Conference trophy next year.
Regular Season Record: 53-29
New York Knicks
The Phil Jackson era is finally over, so does New York finally have a chance at turning things around?
It’s very hard to determine New York’s future until the Carmelo Anthony situation is resolved. It seems that Melo will be moved before the start of training camp, however, the Knicks organization have expressed interest in keeping Carmelo Anthony and have shut out trade talks for the time being. If the Knicks do end up shedding Carmelo Anthony like they’re expected to, they will be entering rebuilding mode for the next couple of years. New York will then likely be sporting the following starting lineup to start the 2017-18 NBA season.
PG- Frank Nitilinka
SG- Tim Hardaway Jr.
SF- Luke Kornet
PF- Kristaps Porzingis
C- Joakim Noah
There are a lot of questions surrounding this team such as whether or not it was worth it to pass on Dennis Smith Jr. for an unproven point guard in Frank Nitilinka. However, the core pieces are still there in Kristaps Porzingis and Tim Hardaway Jr. So all in all, although the Knicks will improve from last year, they will still be a lottery team and will probably end the season with anywhere between 30-35 wins.
Regular Season Record: 33-49
As I have said before, this 76ers team may be the most interesting team to watch in the upcoming season. With raw talent beginning to develop, Philadelphia drafted young point guard Markelle Fultz who is an amazing all around talent, and with eastern conference playoff spots opening up, the 76ers are in a prime position to steal a sixth or seventh seed.
Philadelphia knows they’re ready too, so they went out and signed a veteran shooting guard in J.J. Redick. However, Philly was forced to pay Redick a premium due to it being just a one year deal. With all of these pieces coming together, the 76ers are set to start the 2017-18 season with the following five.
PG- Markelle Fultz
SG- J.J. Redick
SF- Ben Simmons
PF- Dario Saric
C- Joel Embiid
This starting lineup combined with some veteran role players coming off the bench has a chance to be championship ready in the next four or five years. However, one key factor that the Sixers have had trouble avoiding, is the injury bug. 60% of the Sixers starting lineup has missed at least one full year with the team. Injuries are the most important factor to Philadelphia’s success.
Season Prediction- 44-38
It is setting up to be another disappointing season for Nets fans. Although Brooklyn has made some great moves recently in their trade for D’Angelo Russell while also dumping Brook Lopez’s big contract, things aren’t looking too bright.
Unfortunately, the New York burrow is still feeling the consequences for the horrendous, blockbuster trade back in 2013. However, the Nets are finally starting to take a step in the right direction and could very well be back to a respectable team in the next four or five years. For now, however, the Nets will likely be sporting this questionable lineup to start out the 2018 season.
PG- D’Angelo Russell
SG- Allen Crabbe
SF- DeMare Carroll
PF- Trevor Booker
C- Timofey Mozgov
This lineup is in no way playoff ready, and is quite frankly, barely NBA ready. However, the Nets are a determined franchise that is in no rush to speed their process of rebuilding. With this said, it is fitting to be an exciting season for the Atlantic Division.
Season Prediction- 30-52