NBA 2016-17 Season Preview – Atlantic Division
Last season they seemed to improve a lot, or at least came close to the “golden days” when we could see Kevin Durant, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen in the green jersey. With the singing of Al Horford and draft of Jaylen Brown they surely improved their roster. On the other side Jared Sullinger and Evan Turner were let go. Both of them combined 20.8ppg and 10.2rpg, which seems to be hard to replace, but Horford and Marcus Smart will be able to step in their shoes. Much of their success will depend on Isaiah Thomas. He has finished the season with 22.2ppg (career high), but failed to perform against Atalanta, with only 33% from the floor. There is no doubt he has a lot of room to improve, but with his potential we can expect that sooner or later. No doubt, Celtic has improved, but if they wish to be one of the best teams in NBA, they will need at least 1 more “elite” player in their roster. Still, I see them capable of beating any team.
STARTING 5 : Isaiah Thomas, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder, Al Horford, Amir Johnson
The Nets are working to build a team for the future, which is a strategy that can pay off big time.. but in the future. Brooklyn Nets added a new coach, Kenny Atkinson, brought a new GM Sean Marks, singed 2 new players Jeremy Lin and Randy Foye and traded Thaddeus Young to Indiana Pacers for a first round pick in the draft, which they used on Caris LeVert. As mentioned before, they are working on a plan to be a strong contender in the future. With investing in new coaching and training staff, new infrastructures etc. they are surely working on a strong foundation. One of the big changes is singing of Marks as a new GM. In the end it will all come up to him to make a good future for the Brooklyn Nets. Will the progress show in the upcoming season? Maybe not yet, but you can expect them to exponentially improve throughout the years.
STARTING 5: Jeremy Lin, Randy Foye, Bojan Bogdanovic, Trevor Booker, Brook Lopez
As many teams, they are working on rebuilding the team, and it seems good times are coming in the future. With the 1st overall pick in the draft, 76ers drafted Ben Simmons, who ended up with a broken foot in the training camp. Everyone expected a lot from Simmons, but as mentioned before, he ended up playing 0 games due to the injury. On the positive note, 76ers singed Dario Saric and got Joel Embiid returning to the court after an injury. After a terrible season, with the lowest offensive ranking and only 10 wins, there is only room to improve. Of course the expectations are not high, and everyone realises that, but I will gladly follow their rebuilding process.
STARTING 5: Jerryd Bayless, Gerald Henderson, Robert Covington, Jahlil Okafor, Nerlens Noel
Raptors ended their last season with the best record so far (56-26), in addition they managed to get into Eastern Conference finals for the first time in franchise history, where they lost to Cleveland Cavaliers. Going into this season, they will be without Luis Scola and Bismack Biyombo, who were both a big contribution to their historical success. Last season, Raptors managed to have a great defensive rank, finishing at 3rd spot in opponents ppg (98.2). Now with the departure of Biyombo, they need to find the way to keep up their good defensive performance and maybe there is an answer in Jonas Valanciunas. On the positive note Lowry and DeRozan duo, who averaged 44.7ppg 9.2 rpg and 10,4 apg stayed in Toronto and will be expected to repeat their impressive production. A lot of expectations are put on DeMarre Carrol, who was brought into Toronto for a big sum of money, only to get injured. Due to the injury, he only managed to play 26 games in the regular season, averaging 11 ppg. If he can avoid an injury this season, we can expect him to contribute a lot to the team. After a big improvement in recent season, the fans of Toronto Raptors can expect them to compete for the top spot in the Eastern Conference once again, and rightfully so.
STARTING 5: Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, DeMarre Carroll, Jared Sullinger, Jonas Valanciunas
New York Knicks
Knicks have a disappointing season behind them with a 32-50 finish. They need to improve and they surely are working on it. Jeff Hornacek (former Pheonix Suns coach) was signed as a new coach for the Knicks, during the summer they added Derrick Rose into the team, in exchange for Robin Lopez and Jerian Grant. In addition, Knicks singed a free agent Joakim Noah, who used to play with Derrick Rose at the Bulls. When deciding on how far will Knicks go, it will come up to Caramelo Anthony. And looking at the previous season, it’s not promising. 21.8ppg was one of his worst performance in the NBA. But all hope is not lost, not at all. Kristaps Porzingis is one of the players that can be described as a huge prospect for the New York Knicks and he has been working hard during the summer to improve his performance for the upcoming season. Of course we mustn’t forget Derrick Rose. Despite having some problems with injuries he has not given up. He realises he cannot improve his athleticism by a lot, so improving his strategy is the best choice for him. Knicks are slowly but surely improving and have got a good roster, who has a lot to prove.
STARTING 5: Derrick Rose, Courtney Lee, Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis, Joakim Noah
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