NBA Atlantic Division Training Camp Preview
The NBA season will be here before you know it. NBA training camps are open for business. The Atlantic Division took strides to be a better division this upcoming season. Toronto gave the World Champion Cleveland Cavaliers a great fight in the Eastern Conference Finals last season. Boston and New York made major off season additions. Then there are the Brooklyn Nets. The competition in their division and the conference overall seemingly got better overnight.
Let’s take an in deep look at the NBA’s Atlantic division.
5. Brooklyn Nets: Possibly we begin with the worst team, not just in the Atlantic Division, in the Eastern Conference. The off-season started by flipping Thaddeus Young for a draft pick outside of the lottery. This is a head scratcher when Atlanta flipped Jeff Teague for a lottery pick.
You can thank the ghost of Billy King for how this roster of NBDL players pairing alongside Jeremy Lin & Brook Lopez looks like. The Kevin Garnett-Paul Pierce trade of 2013 is like watching a marathon of the Fast & Furious movies and taking a drink every time a race happens. It sounds like a good idea at first then you realize how dumb you are to agree to this.
One player to look out for is Sean Kilpatrick this season. He was a steal last season, and he can put the ball in the basket very well, and a nice jump shot to boot. Can we just say it now, Shane Larkin will be out of the league in three years? This guy can’t do anything on the floor to help a team, let’s just get it over with and cut him. I fully expect nobody showing up to the games, fans wondering how Anthony Bennett was the #1 overall pick three years ago & last but not least those paper bags over heads that will be around all season just to see this team go 17-65 and be in the cellar of the division.
4. Philadelphia 76ers : They will no longer be cellar dwellers of the Atlantic Division. Finally, the 76ers will have double digit wins.
Let the Sam Hinkie vision on how to build a roster from the ground up begin. How on earth did Philly get two second round picks and cash to trade Kendall Marshall who is so worthless you would rather have Shane Larkin on your roster?
This team’s front court is loaded with players that can run the floor, block shots and shoot jumpers, this will be exciting for fans to watch this season. Can Brent Brown just say screw it? Their starting five will be Ben Simmons, Robert Covington, Saric, Nerlens Noel & Embiid. Please just do it and let the length and sure athleticism take over.
Let’s embrace the fact that Simmons is a 6’10 point guard, not a combo guard. He won’t be a good shooter, but that’s okay, Lebron James wasn’t when he entered the league. Watching this guy run the floor with the play-making ability he possesses is like looking at a one-man wrecking crew on the fast break that will cause mayhem for the opposing team. My prediction for Sixers will be 4th in the division and a 30-52 record. Things are looking up in Philly.
3. New York Knicks: Believe it or not, the Knicks are better. The correct gamble Phil Jackson made on trading for Derek Rose will pay dividends. Getting rid of Robin Lopez & Jose Calderon’s contract is 100% worth taking a one year rental on Rose. Signing Joakim Noah to a big deal will be worth it for the first two years of the contract but pretty suspect after that. If Rose holds up this year, I fully expect this team to be a 5 or 6 seed in the East. If he doesn’t, all hope isn’t fully gone, you still have Carmelo Anthony to play one on one basketball that would make you want to take a nice little mid-game nap. Look on the bright-side, at least you signed Brandon Jennings to a deal that will motivate him actually to play like he is an NBA player this upcoming season.
Signing Jeff Hornacek is a lukewarm hire that looks like he could be over matched with the veteran presence this roster has. But the bright light that this team has and will be carrying the torch for this city moving forward is the one and only Kristaps Porzingis aka “Unicorn”. Armed with a fantastic 3 point shot, nice post moves, and good help defense for Noah. There is no telling what this guy’s ceiling is, start building this team around him and craft the personal that fits with his game and you have something that will be good for years to come. They’ll likely have the haunting possibility of injuries to deal with as Rose, Anthony, Jennings and Noah are all players who’ve had their fair share of health problems. My prediction for this team is 3rd in the division with a 48-35 record and the sixth seed in the East.
2.Toronto Raptors: Coming off their best season in franchise history “The Drakes” are poised to be just as close as last season’s record and performance as possible. Not re-signing Bismack Biyombo and his finger wagging abilities will hurt, but to sign Jared Sullinger for one of the best signings of the offseason will help fill the void that Biyombo leaves behind. Paying Demarr Derozen 145 million for a guy that can’t shoot is something the Raptors were forced to do. It just seems they were held prisoner knowing they wouldn’t be able to replace him with a player has caliber.
With the luxury of having the 9th pick in the draft and being able to take a flyer on a player that would look like a risk but would be able to look better going to a good team. The Raptors struck out on this concept drafting Jakob Poeltl who is long ways away and can only defend the paint otherwise he is useless. Shame on you Masai Ujiri for not drafting Thon Maker instead.
With the best individual player in the Atlantic Division (Kyle Lowry) & one of the best young centers in the league (Jonas Valanciunas), This team will be very good and fully expect a similar record from last season. Look for the Raptors to be in the Eastern Conference Finals mix again.
1.Boston Celtics : With the amount of depth this team has with two all-star players (Isiah Thomas & Al Horford) and one borderline all-star player (Jae Crowder). On top of that, Brad Stevens is a top 5 coach and can run an offense with the best of them. While this team ranked fifth in points per game with 105.7 in 2015-16, they struggled tremendously from three-point range (28th in the league at .335), ranked at the bottom of the league in field goal percentage (24th with .435) and were a middle of the pack group in terms of scoring defense (13th in the league with 102.5 points allowed a game).
This team is stacked with talent and picks when will Danny Ainge flip a few of them for a very nice veteran? I feel he won’t until the trade deadline, if the right offer doesn’t come along then he will use that sweet Brooklyn pick to try his shot at Henry Giles. Why doesn’t Ainge flip Kelly Olynyk and a pick to Denver for Kenneth Faried?
Horford is a center & Faried would be a perfect fit alongside him to gobble up all of the rebounds while Horford draws his defender away from the basket to set screens to hit 18 footers and better yet unleash his very nice 3 pt shot. This team won’t miss Evan Turner & Jared Sullinger one bit, replacing them with Horford & the #3 overall pick Jaelan Brown will prove that this team won’t miss a beat. Look for the Celtics to also be in that conversation to be Eastern Conference Finalist. They will give the Cleveland Cavaliers a serious fight. The Atlantic Division will run through Boston this year.