(2016-17) Delay of Game Previews • “The Atlantic”

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Will Isaiah Thomas & the C’s rule the Atlantic Division? (Jeremy Brevard/USA TODAY Sports)

Sizing up the Atlantic Division…

Philadelphia 76ers

joel

2015-2016 Season Result: 10-72 (yikes) • 15th, Eastern Conference (5th, Atlantic Division) • Missed Postseason

Current Head Coach: Brett Brown

Draft Picks

  • #1 Overall: Ben Simmons
  • #24 Overall: Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot
  • #26 overall: Furkan Korkmaz

Notable Offseason Additions

  • Jerryd Bayless
  • Gerald Henderson
  • Sergio Rodriguez
  • Dario Saric

Notable Offseason Losses

  • Ish Smith
  • Carl Landry

Projected Starting Lineup

The Big Picture

The 76ers have been dealt another vicious blow by the basketball gods – (2016 #1 overall pick) Ben Simmons could miss his entire rookie campaign w/ a broken bone in his foot. Unlike previous years, however, all hope isn’t lost. 2014 lottery picks Joel Embiid & Dario Saric are healthy and imported, respectively, so Philly should finally cash in on some of its investments.

That said, it isn’t cut & dry for Coach Brett Brown (is it ever!?) – there’s quite a bit to figure out, such as the logjam in the frontcourt (Okafor, Nerlens Noel, Embiid).

Wins will be hard to come by but Philly is an exciting group to follow in 2016-17, which is refreshing to hear considering last year’s 10-win disaster.

Undisputed X-Factor: Joel Embiid • For a few obvious reasons, Embiid is Philly’s X-Factor. Most notably, his JoJo’s defensive impact gives the Sixers a chance to finally shut down driving lanes and limit paint points, an area they’ve struggled w/ since Process.

The wait is finally over

Season Prediction: 5th, Atlantic Division • Will Miss Playoffs


Brooklyn Nets

cm-rhj
(USA TODAY Sports)

2015-2016 Result: 21-61 • 14th, Eastern Conference (4th, Atlantic Division) • Missed Postseason

Current Head Coach: Kenny Atkinson

Notable Offseason Additions

  • Jeremy Lin
  • Trevor Booker
  • Justin Hamilton
  • Luis Scola
  • Greivis Vasquez
  • Anthony Bennett
  • Randy Foye
  • Joe Harris
  • Yogi Ferrell
  • Chase Budinger

Notable Offseason Losses

  • Wayne Ellington
  • Willie Reed

Projected Starting Lineup

The Big Picture

The Nets are near the bottom of the barrel in terms of excitement, potential, and most importantly, talent. Their starting lineup, let alone their roster, looks absolutely atrocious and Brooklyn management should be ashamed of themselves for gambling their future (which happens to be the present) by assembling that travesty of an AARP team featuring Paul Pierce (LAC)Joe Johnson (UTA), and Kevin Garnett. With over 10 offseason additions, new coach Kenny Atkinson will need to merge everything together while keeping BKN competitive in the short-term.

Aside from internal improvement (Chris McCullough) & a few (possible) surprises (Jeremy LinBojan Bogdanovic), there’s not much to look forward for the second straight season.

Undisputed X-Factor: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson • RHJ is one of BKN’s few young prospects – can he turn into a lockdown defender in 2017?

Season Prediction: 4th, Atlantic Division • Will Miss Playoffs


New York Knicks

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(Noah K. Murray/USA TODAY Sports)

2015-2016 Result: 32-50 • 13th, Eastern Conference (3rd, Atlantic Division) • Missed Postseason

Current Head Coach: Jeff Hornacek

Notable Offseason Additions

  • Derrick Rose
  • Courtney Lee
  • Brandon Jennings
  • Marshall Plumlee

Notable Offseason Losses

  • Arron Afflalo
  • Derrick Williams
  • Kevin Seraphin
  • Langston Galloway

Projected Starting Lineup

The Big Picture

There were plenty of jokes this offseason that the Knicks have assembled a strong title contender…if this were 2012. On paper, their starting lineup does look rather impressive, but playing big (in 2016) is falling out of style.

Landing Derrick Rose was a ‘big move’ but he’s already brought on a media firestorm & has expressed displeasure for running the triangle offense. And there’s questions about the longevity of both he and Joakim Noah, who just returned from a hamstring injury.

How quickly will Kristaps Porzingis adapt to Rose? Will Carmelo sacrifice his #1 status in favor of KP? — Two burning questions.

The Knicks will garner marquee attention for the name value alone – if everything falls into place, they’re at least a playoff team in 2017.

Undisputed X-Factor: Brandon Jennings • Derrick Rose’s injury history is well-documented – in Jennings, NY has an explosive backup PG capable of setting up teammates & stretching the floor. He’ll have plenty of opps to play his style of basketball while selectively pushing the tempo for Coach Hornacek’s second unit.

If Jennings raises his efficiency (big if? • Jennings is a career 40% shooter) and NY reaches the postseason, he’s a 6MOY candidate

Season Prediction: 3rd, Atlantic Division • Will Lose in Quarterfinals


Toronto Raptors

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(USA TODAY Sports)

2015-2016 Result: 56-26 • 2nd, Eastern Conference (1st, Atlantic Division) • Lost to CLE in Conference Finals

Current Head Coach: Dwayne Casey

Draft Picks

  • #9 Overall: Jakob Poeltl
  • #27 Overall: Pascal Siakam

Notable Offseason Additions

  • Jared Sullinger

Notable Offseason Losses

  • Bismack Biyambo
  • James Johnson
  • Luis Scola

Projected Starting Lineup

The Big Picture

The Raptors overachieved last season, pushing their playoff run 2 games shy of an NBA Finals appearance. At this point, anything less than last year’s result should, theoretically, be a failure, but then again it seems like this franchise’s expectations are always reset back to zero at the start of a new season.

To get over the hump, the All-Star/Olympic Gold Medal backcourt of Kyle Lowry & DeMar DeRozan needs to take more responsibility on defense, Jonas Valanciunas must develop into a go-to guy down low (he’s close), and Coach Casey must see improvement from some of his younger talent, including second-year wing Norman Powell.

Undisputed X-Factor: Terrence Ross • Surprise, surprise! Ross is TOR’s X-Factor (again) heading into 2016-17. Internal growth is the only way Toronto makes the leap from good to great* in 2017. During the preseason, we’ve seen a more aggressive Ross, particularly off the dribble. Casey needs his consistent production coming off the pine.

*they’re not great yet despite falling a couple games shy of the Finals – shocker, huh?

Season Prediction: 2nd, Atlantic Division • Will Lose in Semifinals


Boston Celtics

(Andy Marlin/USA TODAY Sports)
(Andy Marlin/USA TODAY Sports)

2015-2016 Result: 48-34 • 5th, Eastern Conference (2nd, Atlantic Division) • Lost to ATL in Quarterfinals

Current Head Coach: Brad Stevens

Draft Picks

  • #3 Overall: Jaylen Brown
  • #16 Overall: Guerschon Yabusele
  • #23 Overall: Ante Zizic
  • #35 Overall: Rade Zagorac
  • #45 Overall: Demetrius Jackson
  • #51 Overall: Ben Bentil
  • #58 Overall: Abel Nader

Notable Offseason Additions

  • Al Horford
  • Gerald Green

Notable Offseason Losses

  • Evan Turner
  • Jared Sullinger

Projected Starting Lineup

The Big Picture

The Celtics landed their big prize this offseason with 4x All-Star Al Horford coming over from Atlanta. Their team already had a solid nucleus – adding Horford to the mix will certainly stabilize things defensively, while offering a versatile dynamic offensively.

Led by Brad Stevens and first-time All-Star Isaiah Thomas, Boston has all the pieces to make a deep run in the East. Actually, do they have enough shooting to defeat more three-point heavy teams in the playoffs? Boston’s ability (or lack thereof?) to knock down the long ball will be discussed all year long.

Undisputed X-Factor: Jaylen Brown • Brown is NBA-ready, particularly as an athlete & defender. He’s a dark horse Rookie of the Year candidate if he breaks Brad Stevens’ rotation early on

Season Prediction: 1st, Atlantic Division • Will Lose in Conference Finals

…the Atlantic Division doesn’t need a ton of attn

#delay

Darryl F. & Jabari J.

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