The Atlantic Division has been run by the Celtics and the Raptors the past few seasons, and it doesn’t look like that will change in the 2017-18 season. This past year Boston and Toronto won more games combined (104) than the next three teams (New York, Brooklyn, Philadelphia; 79). So who ranks where in the Atlantic right now?
5. Brooklyn Nets
The Nets have made some improvements to their roster, but nothing to make them much better than they’ve been the past few seasons. The Nets traded away their best player in Brook Lopez in exchange for an overpaid Timofey Mozgov and D’Angelo Russell. As tough as it is to part with someone as good as Lopez, he serves the Nets no benefit in a rebuild. They also acquired Demarre Carroll from Toronto. Carroll is a very versatile player that makes defiantly makes Brooklyn a better team going forward. Russell is a decent young point guard that the Nets can try and build around once they get their draft picks back. Until then, luckily for the Celtics, who have the Net’s picks the next two years, the Nets will be at the bottom of the Atlantic.
4. New York Knicks
The Knicks made the smart decision to part ways with Phil Jackson, who tried to shop star big man, Kristaps Porzingis prior to this summers Draft. Although Porzingis is still around, and the future for the Knicks looks bright if he sticks around, they won’t improve much this season. They will probably have to part ways with All-Star forward, Carmelo Anthony at some point. Anthony has a no trade clause in his contract, but is willing to lift that for the right trade situation for himself. He’ll want out of New York when his contract expired, so it would be smart to trade him for something before losing him for nothing. Without Anthony and Jackson, New York can really focus on rebuilding, but that process will take a while.
3. Philadelphia 76ers
The Sixers have been trusting the process by tanking and drafting for the past several seasons, and they have some of the best young talent in the league. On top of that, Philly added sharpshooting JJ Redick and former Celtic Amir Johnson. Philadelphia is definitely looking better than they were last year, and having Ben Simmons and Markelle Fultz playing in their first seasons this year will show everyone that the process is real, and the future is bright in Philly, but it’s still not their time yet.
2. Toronto Raptors
The Raptors still have two All-Star guards in Lowry and DeRozan, but losing Demarre Carroll could really hurt them. Philadelphia could finish closer to Toronto than Toronto will to Boston (spoiler alert they’ll win the division). Even without Carroll, Toronto has a great cast of players that complement Lowry and Derozan. The two guards could be the best tandem in the Eastern Conference now, but a dynamic duo doesn’t compare to a big three.
1. Boston Celtics
The biggest loss Boston has suffered in a long time, is losing Avery Bradley. He’s a phenomenal defender who can score with consistency, but he had to be moved to create space for Boston’s new big three. Gordon Hayward, Al Horford, and Isaiah Thomas will be dominating the East and the Atlantic next year. No one is questioning if the Celtics are going to be the best in the Atlantic anymore, they are the outright favorite, and for good reason. People are all comparing the C’s to the Cavs and LeBron. The top team in the East will have to wait to be determined, but so long as the Celtics can stay healthy there is no doubt they’ll be a 50+ win team again in ’17-18. They Celtics, much like Philly, have a very bright future. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum have been lighting it up in Summer League alongside the other young talent in green. The future and the now are both looking great for the Celtics. Boston looks to make another appearance in the Eastern Conference Finals this year, and hopes to dethrone King James and make their way to the finals for the first time since the days of the last big three.Read next
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