What to expect in 2017: Atlantic Division

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The Atlantic Division is one of the most lopsided divisions in the NBA. They have two top-3 teams and two bottom-3 teams in the Eastern Conference. The other shows flashes of both, but currently sits closer to the bottom. All five teams need to make moves before the NBA Trade Deadline. Here’s what to expect from each Atlantic Division team in 2017. 

Boston Celtics: Consistency

The Boston Celtics have dealt with injuries to Isaiah Thomas, Jae Crowder and Al Horford throughout the 2016-2017 NBA season. Since having all three in the lineup on Dec. 17, the Celtics are 8-2. They’ve scored 105 points or more in every game except one. When healthy, the Celtics are one of the most consistent teams in the NBA. If they buy at the trade deadline, they can jump from consistent to dominant. But for now, Brad Stevens has his teams prepared on a nightly basis. 

Brooklyn Nets: The start of a rebuild

The Brooklyn Nets have the worst record in the NBA without their own first-round draft pick these next two seasons. They own the Boston Celtics pick in 2017, but they’re currently the three seed in the Eastern Conference. With limited draft picks, they need to trade away all tradable assets. Brook Lopez is the likely candidate, averaging 20.3 points per game shooting 36.5 percent from three. Their NBA ranking won’t change with or without Lopez. The rebuild starts with the picks they acquire. 

New York Knicks: More Carmelo Anthony issues

Christmas wasn’t a wonderful time for the New York Knicks. They lost at home to division rival Boston Celtics and haven’t won a game since. They’re out of the playoff picture, struggle defensively, and showing clear disputes between coach and star player. Unless the Knicks make a major move at the deadline, they’ll remain out of the playoffs. Trading Carmelo Anthony may be the major move. It’s time to hand the torch to Kristaps Porzingis before it’s too late. 

Philadelphia 76ers: Ben Simmons era

2017 means the start of the Ben Simmons era. There isn’t an exact date on his return, but he’s expected to play before the season ends. With the rise of rookies Joel Embiid and Dario Saric, the Philadelphia 76ers are heading right direction. Simmons gives them a foundational piece to move forward as a unit. 76ers basketball is moving closer to NBA relevancy. The start of the Simmons era gives fans hope for the future.

Toronto Raptors: A BIG Trade

The current Toronto Raptors don’t stand a chance against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA playoffs. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan can compete, but they’re missing that third piece as a championship contender. With many star players pending free agency, the Raptors need to buy a rental at the deadline. They also need to shed salary to extend that star to stay contenders. Just imagine if that third star was Paul Millsap or Blake Griffin. One of those two turns the Raptors into true contenders. 

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