2022-23 Atlantic Division Preview

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Key Offseason Additions – PJ Tucker, De’Anthony Melton, Montrezl Harrell

Key Offseason Subtractions – Danny Green, DeAndre Jordan, Paul Millsap

It was a rather clunky season for the 76ers. The season started with Ben Simmons on the roster, but not the floor. This allowed Tyrese Maxey to thrive, showing flashes of a potentially becoming an all star. Joel Embiid was an MVP candidate, but the team was the 6 or7 seed until finally being able to acquire James Harden for Ben Simmons & Seth Curry. Harden is past his peak, potential MVP days from Houston, but he fit well in Philadelphia. His playmaking & scoring opened up the offense without stifling Embiid or Maxey. The 76ers got as high as the one seed, but injuries and lack of chemistry ultimately held back their success. They finished as the 4th seed, were able to beat the Raptors in 6 games, but Embiid got hit in the face, broke his eye, and missed the start of the series against Miami in round 2. The 76ers lost in 6, but they were was hope that Harden might finally be the co-star Joel Embiid needs to win a championship.

Let me be clear, I am entirely too optimistic about this 76ers team. Joel Embiid has stayed fairly healthy when he isn’t being hit in the face or played too many minutes in pointless games and is arguably the best 2 way player in the NBA. Peak James Harden is gone, but he’s not needed. Harden should be able to take a step back, allow himself to play less minutes, and save his energy for the postseason. He’s been bad in the postseason, but he’s run into the ground during those regular seasons and could finally have a fresh body come May & June. Maxey has a chance to be great. His shot continues to improve, his athleticism is elite, and Tyrese shows a true love for the game and Philadelphia crowd. Daryl Morey did Daryl Morey things and turned Danny Green with a torn ACL into De’Anthony Melton while also finding a way to sign PJ Tucker and Montrezl Harrell. A roster that was barely 8 players deep and had no spark is completely restocked and ought to be an asset all season long. Everything is in position for this to be the best 76ers season in decades.

I am SO ready to be hurt. The RSW total looks a little low, but not by large enough margin to place a bet especially with injury & rest concerns. The prices for the 76ers to win the Atlantic, Eastern Conference, and Championship are too low and I’m happily betting all 3 of those. HERE THEY COME!!!

Bets – To win the Atlantic Division 3 to 1 or better. To win the Eastern Conference 7 to 1 or better. To win the Championship 14 to 1 or better.

Key Offseason Additions – Malcolm Brogdon, Danilo Gallinari, Blake Griffin

Key Offseason Subtractions – Daniel Theis, Aaron Nesmith

The Celtics almost got to the top of the mountain last season. It was a rough start though for Boston. There were 25-25 at the end of January. Ime Udoka took some time to learn the roster and establish a system of success. They finished the regular season on a 22-5 run. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown were excellent on both ends of the floor. Robert Williams was a lead candidate for Defensive Player of the Year until getting injured, but Marcus Smart won it anyway. Al Horford looked rejuvenated after a year off in OKC. The trade for Derrick White provided a needed spark of the bench. The momentum carried into the postseason which started with a sweep of the Brooklyn Nets. It took 7 games and a Khris Middleton injury to get past the Bucks to get to the Eastern Conference finals. The Heat pushed Boston to 7 games, but the Celtics were able to win the series in Miami. The Finals started well with 2 wins in the first 3 games, but that would be the last victories for this team. The Warriors won the next 3 games comfortably and the title. An excellent season nonetheless for the Celtics, but one that left a bitter taste in their mouths.

The biggest change for Boston will be their new head coach. Ime Udoka has been suspended and I assume will eventually be fired for having committed adultery with one or more members of the Celtics’ staff. Not all coaches make an impact in the NBA and most make a negative impact, but Udoka was one of the few that were good. The roster has been together for several seasons, so it should be a smooth transition, but it’s hard to say now how a new coach will impact Boston. We do, however, know that the addition of Malcolm Brogdon should be a good one. The Celtics have lacked a true point guard and lead ball handler for several season. Brogdon can be just that without interrupting the usage of Tatum & Brown. The roster is full of talent and could be even better than they were last year, but they must overcome a coaching change and the lingering effects of being so close to being champions and losing.

I’m happy to wait and see how things go. My projections like the under, but I don’t think my numbers are properly accounting for Brogdon’s impact and the natural improvement of Tatum & Brown. The coaching change could be a problem or the motivation they need to start the season strong unlike last season.

Bets – None 🙁

Key Offseason Additions – Markieff Morris, Royce O’Neale, TJ Warren

Key Offseason Subtractions – Bruce Brown, Andre Drummond, Blake Griffin

The Nets were title favorites going into the season with a roster that everyone would pick in a video game, but that was the best it would get for Brooklyn. Kyrie Irving played only 29 games and only 55 from Durant. James Harden seemed to be fitting in well, but was traded midseason for Ben Simmons & Seth Curry. Joe Harris, a very underrated part of their success, played just 14 games. Goran Dragic, LaMarcus Aldridge, and Blake Griffin all looked close to their expiration dates. The Nets were able to keep it together to win enough games to get into the play in tournament and make it to the postseason. Unfortunately, the didn’t win a single game against the Celtics and ended their season sooner than expected.

Ben Simmons is back on the basketball court at least playing. Last we saw him, he was being ridiculed for not shooting enough in the 76ers loss to the Hawks in the 2019-20 playoffs. This should be a safe space for Ben who is now surrounded by shooters and players who want the ball. He can focus on defending the best player on the other team, rebounding, and making great passes. Kevin Durant is a year older, but not coming off a major injury this season. Kyrie Irving should be able to play in Brooklyn now that covid restrictions have ended. Joe Harris and Seth Curry aren’t 100%, but should be healthy sooner rather than later and contribute elite shooting. They will miss Bruce Brown who was a key contributor as a jack of all trades, but the roster should be as good, if not better than last season. Steve Nash leaves a lot to be desired as a coach, but everything is in place for the Nets to reach their potential.

I’m not so optimistic for one reason, this team lacks leadership. Durant started on Russell Westbrook’s team then went to Steph Curry’s team and is now here in Brooklyn where it was supposed to be Durant & Irving’s team. They did social media together and talked about in press conferences, but we haven’t seen either driving their teammates to be their best. Nash was going to provide some of that guidance, but it hasn’t happened. On paper, it’s probably the best roster in the NBA, but I’m not sure how it will translate to the hardwood.

Bets – None 🙁

Key Offseason Additions – Otto Porter Jr., Juancho Hernangómez

Key Offseason Subtractions – Svi Mykhailiuk

Toronto exceeded their RSW total expectations by over 11 wins while truly embracing basketball without a big man. Instead of a center, the Raptors used Pascal Siakim, Precious Achiuwa, and other players in the 6’8’, 6’9” range. This was tough against players like Joel Embiid and Nikola Jokic on defense but allowed to them to play with speed and lineup flexibility. Excluding Fred VanVleet, all key members of the roster are 6’5” and taller. This kind of length allows them to play an aggressive style of defense because everyone can switch easily. On offense, it creates tough matchups for opponents who smaller guards have to defend larger players and their big men have to defend faster players. Coach Nick Nurse also pushed his best players as hard as he could. 5 players average 35 minutes or more per game in a league in which most teams try to keep starters closer to, or even below, 30 minutes per game. Scottie Barnes looked great winning rookie of the year and although they lost in the first round, it was a much better season than anticipated.

Little has changed over the offseason which has it’s benefits, but also problems. Scottie Barnes, like most players, should improve on his great rookie year. He could be an all star or better in the NBA and this season ought to set the table for just that. Pascal Siakim had a bounce back year and should be settled in as a strong 2nd, 3rd option on this squad. The rest of the younger players have a year in this system under their belt and a year in an organization known for growing it’s talent. The problem is that the bench is not deep. Otto Porter Jr. will be help with that, but he’s the 8th best player when he is better suited to be the 10th+ best player. Toronto also lacks another ballhandler besides Fred VanVleet. As last season wore on, the mileage wore him down and the offense stagnated. It’s a good team, but they need to trade for or develop another player or 2 to avoid grinding down their key players over the marathon of the regular season.

My projections like the over, but only by 1.5 games. Masai Ujiri is one of the best executives in the NBA and will find a way to add to the team if they show potential. He also might just tear it down or maybe he’s just joking when he says that. I like the idea, I like the top of the roster, but I’m going to wait and see how it goes.

Bets – None 🙁

Key Offseason Additions – Jalen Brunson, Isaiah Hartenstein

Key Offseason Subtractions – Kemba Walker, Nerlens Noel

Tom Thibodeau has an interesting impact on teams. In his first season or 2, his message of maximum effort and aggressive defense rings true for players. As time progress though, they grow tired of the yelling and the grind on their bodies of playing so many minutes at such high effort. They lost 4 less games than prior and finished 11th in the Eastern Conference for the least amount of ping pong balls for a non-play in or playoff team. Julius Randle was much less effective and most of the roster had a down season. RJ Barrett improved, it wasn’t enough to cover up for Randle and the rest of the team. It was a year full of lineup changes, depressing losses, and little to excited about for the Knickerbockers of New York.

They traded their 1st round pick, but made one of the flashier acquisitions of the offseason in a sign and trade with the Dallas Mavericks. Jalen Brunson is an ideal fit on this roster. His height at 6’1” isn’t great, but Brunson has shown he can guard bigger opponents at a high level. On offense, he’ll be the most reliable point guard for the Knicks since Derek Rose and his 3 point shooting is much needed. This should free up Randle who should bounce back. Immanuel Quickley and Rose, if healthy, can now come off the bench and provide a spark while beating up on second units. Hartenstein was good for the Clippers last season, will be a better & more consistent presence than Noel, and could replace Mitchell Robinson as the starter as some point. Things are looking up for the Knicks who could be a frisky team this season.

Frisky, yes, but good? Maybe? I have them at 40 wins as does the market. That’s the 10th seed and the privilege to have another mediocre draft pick and not make the playoffs. I don’t see a tank in their future after the Brunson acquisition. There’s definitely no value in betting on their success right now, but also no value in betting against them.

Bets – None 🙁

Thanks for reading! You can reach us on Twitter at @AceNBAPreviews with any thoughts, questions, or general comments on this or anything NBA related. Be sure to follow us there and check back here for more NBA content throughout the season. Best of luck to us!

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Categories: NBA