NBA training camps will be opening up in the coming weeks and in the Atlantic, the New York Knicks, Boston Celtics, Toronto Raptors, Brooklyn Nets and Philadelphia 76ers all have made significant moves and the division standings could be very different from where they were last season.
The division was won by the Toronto Raptors and they were the fourth seeded team in the eastern conference. Three teams made the playoffs from the division with the Raptors, Celtics and Brooklyn Nets all advancing into the bracket. The Celtics finished with 40 wins, while the Nets had 38 wins, leaving the Knicks and Sixers out of the playoffs mix. The Raptors have a young core and are the division favorites, while the Knicks and Celtics both feel like they made improvements heading into this season.
The Knicks are still rebuilding, but they added some solid free agents like Robin Lopez and Arron Afflalo, while the Nets are also re-tooling the roster and they could go through a transitional season. The Sixers have young talent, but they likely will be out of the mix once again at the bottom of the division. The Raptors had 49 wins last year and they added DeMarre Carroll and Cory Joseph in free agency and those players could help make up for losing Amir Johnson and Lou Williams.
Kyle Lowry, Terrence Ross and DeMar DeRozan give the Raptors a strong core and they should be in the mix near the top of the east again this season. The Celtics were not expected to make the playoffs and that surprising run has put some expectations on Brad Stevens for this season. The team traded Rajon Rondo last season and this summer they added David Lee, Amir Johnson, Jonas Jerebko and Perry Jones in trades and free agent deals.
The Nets come in after losing again in the playoffs and the team brought in a number of new players, including Andrea Bargnani, Thomas Robinson and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson. The team has Brook Lopez as their franchise player with Deron Williams gone and Joe Johnson is the veteran leader and top scorer. Thaddeus Young was acquired last year and the team likely will have Jarrett Jack starting at point guard. The team could be in the mix in the bottom of the east.
The Sixers have Joel Embiid out for another season and while they just drafted Jahlil Okafor, the team likely will not be in the mix in the division. The Knicks had just 17 wins last season, but the team added some solid talent around Carmelo Anthony with Lopez, Afflalo and Derrick Williams in free agency. The team also added Jerian Grant and Kristaps Porzingis in the draft and that also helps elevate the talent level of the team. The biggest question could be if Carmelo Anthony is healthy after surgery last season.
Prediction: Raptors win division. Celtics finish second, Knicks finish third, Nets finish fourth with the Sixers in last place again.