NBA Division Previews: Atlantic Division Preview
1. Toronto Raptors - Odds: -450
After being sweep in the first round of the playoffs last season, the Raptors signed a few respectable free agents to remain the favours in the Atlantic for the second consecutive year. The offseason additions of Demarre Carroll and Cory Joseph help solidify the defense. While Joseph will primarily be a backup, Carroll will be the starter at small forward, providing the Raptors a definite upgrade. Demar Derozan and Kyle Lowry give the Raptors the best guard combo in the division and one of the better ones in the entire NBA.
2. Boston Celtics - Odds: +500
The Celtics have been rebuilding quickly and are on the up and up. While they definitely are young and talented they remain a few years away from truly contending. Young risers such as Avery Bradley, Marcus Smart and Kelly Olynyk will continue to polish their games in 2016. The offseason brought in veteran forwards Amir Johnson and David Lee to give the young team some leadership and better presence under the rim.
3. New York Knicks - Odds: +1600
A healthy Carmelo Anthony should give the Knicks enough of a boost to get out of the bottom of the Eastern Conference and Atlantic division. Outside of the All-Star, the Knicks team leaves a lot to be desired. When Melo did not play, the Knicks posted a 7-34 record and lost 13 games by 20 points or more. The Knicks grabbed a top five pick in the draft this year and added a few pieces in the offseason. While the Knicks are not likely to make much noise this year, they are good enough to finish in the middle of the weak Atlantic division.
4. Brooklyn Nets - Odds: +1800
Without much of a game-changer outside of an aging Joe Johnson, the Nets are poised to decline once again. While the Nets did try to rid themselves of Johnson in the offseason, the Nets are better off having kept him as he remains their best pure scorer and veteran. The Nets are currently in the process of changing their franchise goals – from championship aspirations to rebuilding for long term success – and the Nets are not likely to make the playoffs in 2016.
5. Philadelphia 76ers - Odds: +10000
With very questionable management and a weak roster, the 76ers are once again vying for a great draft pick not a spot in the playoffs. Philly’s plan to stockpile high draft picks and build a young team that will be competitive has not worked well. The 76ers dealt last season the Rookie of the Year winner from two seasons ago – a move that seems exactly counter to their current plan. They added a few young pieces in the offseason, but will need time to develop chemistry and improve thier skills.
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