Photo by Ktr101 - originally posted to Flickr
The NBA season starts today and in a way, I am a little sad. Sad that one of the craziest off-seasons I've ever witnessed is over. The Atlantic Division was no stranger to the madness this summer, with the Celtics picking up Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving, New York trading away Carmelo Anthony, and the 76ers adding pieces to compete in the Eastern Conference. Here's how I think the teams in the Atlantic Division will end up.
1) Boston Celtics
The Celtics were already the best team in the division before the crazy off-season. Now that they have Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward in the lineup, along with first round draft pick Jayson Tatum, this Boston team should be ready to compete with Cleveland. It might take a little bit of time to get everyone on the same page with the new additions and due to the departure of Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder, and Avery Bradley in the summer. This new-look Celtics should be a force offensively, however what might hurt them down the road is their rebounding and defense due to their lack of size. Anyone else thinking Celtics vs. Cavs Eastern Conference Finals?
2) Toronto Raptors
The Raptors are an interesting team. They still have a solid core of DeMar DeRozan, Kyle Lowry, and Serge Ibaka, however this core has shown an inability to really compete for the top spot in the East. Keep in mind that this will be Ibaka's first full season in Toronto and his presence should help on both sides of the ball. The Raptors should be a good enough team to get a 4-5 seed for the playoffs, but they were silent in all of the mayhem this off-season. If the Raptors really want to contend with Cleveland and Boston, they will need a mid-season transaction to push the team over the edge.
3) Philadelphia 76ers
The 76ers are going to be one of my favorite teams to watch in the 2017-18 season. I still think that they are a few years away from really being a contending team, but "trusting the process" looks like it might finally start to pay off. Obviously Philadelphia needs to stay healthy, which is one thing that has set back said process a few years. Joel Embiid has only played in 31 games, and with Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz playing in their first games this week, it will be the first time in NBA history that two number 1 overall draft picks will make their debut the same day for the same team. The addition of JJ Redick should add some veteran experience and more offensive firepower for this extremely young lineup. Growing pains are possible for this team, but especially with how weak the Eastern Conference is going to be this year, I really like the 76ers to steal a playoff spot.
4) New York Knicks
Don't expect much from the Knicks this season. They finished last season with a 31-51 record and were 10 games out of the eight spot in the Eastern Conference. On top of that, they won't have two of their three leading scorers back for the 2017-18 campaign. Carmelo was traded to Oklahoma City and Derrick Rose is now a Cleveland Cavalier. The Knicks have officially given Kristaps Porzingis the keys to the car and will need to become a superstar player if the Knicks want to be in the playoff talk come April. Some positives for New York is that they acquired Tim Hardaway Jr and Doug McDermott to help with shooting, and Enes Kanter will be a very nice piece down low and on defense.
5) Brooklyn Nets
Let's be honest, the Nets are going to be bad this year. Brooklyn held the worst record in the NBA last year at 20-62 and they weren't able to cash in on a top draft pick because the Celtics had the rights to it. The Nets do have a couple exciting pieces on their roster this year in D'Angelo Russell and Allen Crabbe, but don't anticipate much despite a weaker conference this year.