NBA Season Preview Series by Danny w/the J: Atlantic Division
The 2016 NBA season is rapidly approaching and with the wild offseason over, the time has arrived for assessing the status of teams heading into training camp and predicting what fans can expect out of their respective teams. Disclaimer: We in no shape or form claim to know everything about basketball, but we do confess our love for the game and will make statements for each team built on sound arguments. With that in mind, let us begin…
- Offseason: The Philadelphia 76ers drafted Ben Simmons with the number one overall pick. The team also signed their 12th overall pick in the 2014 draft, Dario Saric. The number one pick embodies the whole offseason for the 76ers. Hopefully Simmons can turn into the player they need for them to begin winning again.
- 2016-17 Outlook: Drafting Ben Simmons and having Joel Embiid participate in any capacity will bring good things for this team. With that in mind, there are still holes in the roster. Most obvious being the guard positions with the talent on roster skewed to the center position. The lack of shooting is almost cringe-worthy. The future of Jahlil Okafor on the team has the potential to be a distraction, but in all likelihood it won’t be. Brett Brown has shown to have a good handle on things in Philly so there shouldn’t be any surprises for him. The task is to take what he has and continue the climb back to prominence.
Jay: Simmons out for an extended period means this team will be just a bunch of draft picks with no direction. Philly is in for a similar season as the last and a shoo-in for the lottery. Philly needs to do what Minnesota did and hire a coach that can harness all the accumulated talent before they can have a sense of direction.
Daniel: No playoffs for this squad. Again. Sam Hinkie preached about trusting the process and it eventually got him fired. That’s what a martyr is, right? They got the number one overall pick in last year’s draft, and that’s what they’ll be playing for again this season. There isn’t any more doom and gloom for this team. They’ll still lose a lot but not nearly as much. I’m willing to predict a 25-57 season.
- Offseason: The Boston Celtics Signed free-agent C Al Horford to a four-year contract. That was their offseason. Beantown was hoping for a star free-agent and they got a pretty big one. They drafted Jaylen Brown with the third overall pick. The team added Gerald Green and Tyler Zeller also. Evan Turner opted to not return to the team and instead signed with the Portland Trailblazers.
- 2016-17 Outlook: Any starting lineup with Al Horford in it is going to be productive. He is the model big man and the Celtics now have him. How far they go with him is the mystery. They were the fourth seed last season and were taken out of the postseason by Horford’s former team, the Atlanta Hawks. With the rest of the east (outside of two teams) scrambling and without any continuity, the Celtics should have no problem vaulting themselves into top two conversations. The defense and offense both stand to take a jump. This team is a legitimate problem.
Jay: Top 5 seed in the east. I like Brad Stevens as coach and I think they will be a good team in the east. The Celtics will be fun to watch.
Daniel: Isaiah Thomas and Horford pick and rolls will be potent, mostly because of Horford’s ability to move the ball from side to side. Teams are going to have a hard time trying to stop this team from scoring with the shooting they possess. 50+ wins is just the floor for them.
- Offseason: The Brooklyn Nets drafted Caris LeVert with the pick they received from the Indiana Pacers for Thaddeus Young. The biggest deal for the team was the signing of Jeremy Lin to a multiyear contract. Other additions were Luis Scola, Randy Foye, Greivis Vasquez, former top Pick Anthony Bennett, and power forward Trevor Booker.
- 2016-17 Outlook: The Nets have a new coach in Kenny Atkinson and have a roster filled with a bunch of veteran guys. Atkinson has spent a very healthy amount of time in Atlanta with a relatively competent front office and helped run a very formidable offense two years ago. Could he bring that culture to the Nets? Maybe. Brook Lopez is older and Jeremy Lin, who might’ve had his best season since Linsanity with the Charlotte Hornets, will be tasked with manning the offense. In other words, anything is possible.
Jay: The Nets will be on the outside looking in at best come playoff time, but won’t get in the playoffs. The team will be able to score, but I question their ability to defend with the likes of Jeremy Lin, Sean Kilpatrick and others, who are offensively gifted, but defensively challenged.
Daniel: No playoffs for the Nets I’m afraid. The roster doesn’t exactly exude confidence, nor does it possess a lot of talent. With teams in this division getting better and in the east in general, the Nets have a long way to go to compete.
- Offseason: With a fairly successful season coming into the offseason, there wasn’t much to be done. DeMar DeRozan signed a multi-year extension and Jared Sullinger was added to the fold also. Undrafted rookie Fred Van Vleet signed a contract with the Raptors.
- Outlook 2016-17: Toronto fans can sit and relax. Coming off an Eastern Conference Finals berth and taking the Championship Cavaliers to six games, this team is on an upward trajectory. Kyle Lowry had an optimal showing as backup point guard in Rio with Team USA. The only thing the Raptors have to do is maintain a level of concentration and poise that can keep them ultra-competitive.
Jay: The Raptors lost Bismack Biyombo so their defense will be challenged, but they will still make the playoffs thanks to Lowry, DeRozen and Jonas Valanciunas and get somewhere in the 2-4 seed range.
Daniel: Toronto will probably have to compete with Boston for the number two seed in the East. They could have a 53-29 season which seems just about right for them.
New York Knicks
- Offseason: Busy is the word for the Knicks this offseason. The effectiveness is yet to be seen though. The Knicks added Joakim Noah, Brandon Jennings, and Derrick Rose. They also traded away Robin Lopez and former first round pick Jerian Grant. Lance Thomas was resigned to a deal as well. Derrick Williams signed elsewhere with the Miami Heat.
- 2016-17 Outlook: With all of the players added in the offseason, it would be a complete travesty to forget about Kristaps Porzingis. Porzingis is the present and the future of the Knicks, and he has to be involved in the games. Standing around and watching Jennings, Carmelo Anthony, and Rose dribble the ball for 18 seconds on offense isn’t going to motivate him to compete on the other end. The fanfare for this “super-team” needs to die down and our attention needs to shift to KP.
Jay: If Melo wants to eliminate his me-first image, it’s this season. Heading out of Rio as the veteran and leader, he needs to continue this position and play a passing role along with the rest of the team. Porzingis can develop into the next Dirk Nowitzki (or dare I say even better?). The team has to recognize that they’re all past their prime and if they want to win in the near future, KP is their Big Ticket. If all goes right, the Knicks wind up the 7th seed in the east.
Daniel: Anywhere from a 6th -8th seed is possible for this team. Jeff Hornacek is a pretty good coach, and the roster has some competence to it. The front office commitment to the Triangle Office is still mind-boggling, but it would be wise to watch and see what happens with that. Is it crazy of me to predict a 44-38 season?
“From Our House to Yours”