With the NBA Season is less than 24 hours away from opening up in Toronto, it’s time to make my final season predictions for each division. So in this edition, let’s preview the Atlantic Division.
This division is headlined by the defending NBA Champions, 2 teams right on the doorstep, a team missing their star and the New York Knicks.
How Will They Finish?
- Philadelphia 76ers (56-26)
- Boston Celtics (51-31)
- Brooklyn Nets (46-36)
- Toronto Raptors (44-38)
- New York Knicks (24-58)
Philadelphia might have lost an all-star in guard Jimmy Butler to the Miami Heat, but they added another all-star in forward Al Horford and the all-around swing-man Josh Richardson. Joel Embiid is healthy and Ben Simmons is shooting three-pointers now. As long as they can find a bench, they could win the East.
Boston lost their starting point guard (Kyrie Irving) and starting center (Horford) to different teams in the division this summer, but the Celtics are still loaded. The group of Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Marcus Smart are the only going to get better. Gordon Hayward looks like the player of old and newly acquired Kemba Walker will be on the best team he has ever played for. Boston could be a dangerous team come playoff time if they figure out how to replace Horford.
Brooklyn made the biggest free agent moves this summer by signing both Kevin Durant and Irving to long term deals this summer. Irving is expected to carry the load until Durant returns (His return isn’t likely this season, but he hasn’t been ruled out). The Nets will focus on the development of Caris LeVert and Jarrett Allen to help shoulder the load as well. If the Nets can show championship potential, don’t be surprised that Durant pops up for a late season championship run.
The defending champions lost Kwahi Leonard and Danny Green to both Los Angeles teams and now they have to find a way to defend the championship. Head Coach Nick Nurse’s team returns almost everyone else, but can the newly extended Pascal Siakam take another leap into superstardom? Veterans Kyle Lowry, Marc Gasol and Serge Ibaka all return, but Siakam and OG Annoby will be the difference if the Raptors plan to be more than just a playoff team.
The New York Knicks entered the NBA Lottery with dreams of having the top overall pick and two elite level free agents on the team as they opened up this season. None of that happened and the Knicks will once again be at the bottom of this division. New York should have the Rookie of the Year in R.J. Barrett and a really good group of young players. But the Knicks don’t have that superstar player to take them to the next level. Unless Mitchell Robinson, Kevin Knox or Dennis Smith Jr. takes that leap, another year in the lottery is likely.