NBA Division Preview – Atlantic Division

The Atlantic division had the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference playoffs last season, but it was a LeBron James led team that once again took the Eastern Conference crown.  Now that James has left for the Western Conference, all eyes are on this division to produce the first Eastern Conference champion since the 2009 season.  The Toronto Raptors, Boston Celtics and Philadelphia 76ers all won over 50 games last season, while the New York Knicks and Brooklyn Nets both failed to eclipse 30 wins.  This is the best division in the Eastern Conference with the biggest markets and names.  Let’s dive in!

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Boston Celtics

Last Season Record:  55-27, #2 Seed

Projected Season Record:  59-23

The class of not only the Atlantic division, but of the entire Eastern Conference runs through Boston this season.  They are the favorites to reach the NBA Finals at -130.  After Gordon Hayward went down in the first few minutes of the first game last year, many thought that the Celtics season that they dreamed of just came to a screeching halt.  Kyrie Irving had different plans.  Irving played phenomenal basketball as he set a career high in field goal percentage with 49.1% as he averaged 24.4 points per game.  Unfortunately a knee injury cost Irving the remaining 15 regular season games and all of the Celtics playoff run.  With Irving and Hayward not available for the stretch run including the playoffs, it was the young stars who took center stage.  Rookie Jayson Tatum, second year player Jaylen Brown and third year player Terry Rozier provided everything they needed.  The young trio of Tatum (18.5 PPG), Brown (18.0 PPG) and Rozier (16.5 PPG) led the team in scoring in the postseason as they all played over 32 minutes per game.  After going 10-0 in their first 10 playoff games at home, game 11 was a little different.  It was game 7 against LeBron James with a chance to go to the NBA Finals.  The Celtics ended up scoring only 79 points as they lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers 87-79.  With their young guns adding very valuable playoff experience and Irving and Hayward now fully healthy, the Celtics are arguably the most deep of a team in the entire league.  With Kyrie Irving publicly saying he is going to re-sign with the Boston Celtics, not only this year but the future is set up very nicely for this Celtics organization.  It’s a tough division, but the Celtics should end the season on top.  From a DFS standpoint it’s always difficult to target teams who are extremely balanced.  Throughout the season a variety of Celtics players will be in good spots due to matchup and price.  I’m excited to narrow down those plays when they take the floor.

Brooklyn Nets

Last Season Record:  28-54

Projected Season Record:  32-50

It’s been a rough past few years for the Brooklyn Nets.  They have failed to win at least 30 games in three consecutive seasons and they aren’t expected to do much better this season.  The Nets haven’t had an All-Star player since the 2013 season when Joe Johnson made the All-Star team.  They also haven’t had a player named to the NBA All-Pro team since the 2003 season when Jason Kidd was a first team All-Pro member.  A lot of years have passed by during those seasons with not a lot of big time talent coming through.  Similar to the New York Knicks as I’ll mentioned below, the Nets will have plenty of money to throw around at potential free agents in the off-season.  As far as this season goes, the Nets have a lot of young talent with a lot of balance.  Think of them the same way as the Boston Celtics with how balanced they are, except with average at best players.  D’Angelo Russell led the team in points per game with 15.5, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson led the team in rebounds per game with 6.8, Spencer Dinwiddie led the team in assists per game with 6.6, Caris LeVert led the team in steals per game with 1.2 and Jarrett Allen led the team in blocks per game with 1.2.  Last season no player averaged 30 minutes per game.  They are so hard to trust from a fantasy perspective given the low amount of minutes and how head coach Kenny Atkinson insists on playing equal playing time like this is 8th grade school ball.  They did add Kenneth Faried to the roster this season.  He has averaged 11.4 points per game and 8.2 rebounds per game for his career despite playing only 24.9 minutes per game.  He’ll fit right in!  Playing against the Brooklyn Nets is a fantasy gold mine.  They have been in the top six in pace and bottom three in points allowed in the last two seasons.  The Nets and Phoenix Suns are the only two teams who have given up over 110 points per game in the last two seasons.  They will be a common target every night.

New York Knicks

Last Season Record:  29-53

Projected Season Record:  30-52

After what looks like a promising draft class with Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson, the New York Knicks are basically punting this entire 2018-19 season.  Superstar Kristaps Porzingis suffered a torn ACL last February and is still without a timetable to return.  There have been whispers that Porzingis may be out for the entire year.  ACL injuries differ from player to player, but Porzingis did say he has started to run however he has not been cleared to sprint yet.  A realistic timetable would be around Christmas time, but honestly what’s the point in bringing him back if the team will be in full tanking mode by then?  Two of their bigger salary players Courtney Lee and Joakim Noah have been in trade discussions and likely will be off of their books by the end of the year making room for the Knicks to sign some big time free agents in the off-season.  Knicks president Steve Mills has already stated “they aren’t going to trade assets for a player that they can sign in free agency”.  That’s all you need to know that the Knicks are gearing up for the summer of 2019.  Of course a few days after he mentioned that, Jimmy Butler expressed interest in being traded to one of three teams and the Knicks were on that list.  However, Butler simply mentioning the Knicks is a win for them as they haven’t acquired a big name player since Carmelo Anthony back in 2011.  They have lost out on many free agency bidding wars, but it seems as though the tide is turning in the Mecca of basketball.  With Porzingis out for an extended period of time and Michael Beasley shipped to the Los Angeles Lakers, Kevin Knox will be a day one starter for newly acquired head coach David Fizdale.  Knox and shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr. will get all of the usage that they can handle for the Knicks this season.  There will be plenty of times during the early part of the season where I assume their prices will be low that Knox and Hardaway Jr. will be great DFS plays.

Philadelphia 76ers

Last Season Record:  52-30, #3 Seed

Projected Season Record:  54-28

The process was trusted and they finally made the leap.  After having a losing record for five consecutive seasons, everything came together for the Philadelphia 76ers last year as they went 52-30 to finish in the top three of the Eastern Conference.  They went 21-5 after the All-Star break and had a 17-game win streak which tied the record for the longest win streak in Philadelphia sports history.  They were able to win their first playoff series against the Miami Heat before losing in five games to the previously mentioned Boston Celtics.  Rookie of the year Ben Simmons and All-Star Joel Embiid looked incredible last season and at times unstoppable.  Simmons finished the year third in assists (661) and third in triple doubles (12) behind LeBron James and Russell Westbrook in both categories.  He also finished third in rebounds per game among all guards behind James and Westbrook, but led in field goal percentage with 54.5%.  He finished fourth in the entire league in points scored in the paint.  If he can find a three point jump shot, he’s going to be one of the best players in the league very quickly.  He failed to make one three pointer all of last year on only 12 attempts.  Joel Embiid is one of the most versatile big men in the league.  He was the team leader with 22.9 points per game, 11.0 rebounds per game and 1.8 blocks per game.  He finished 11th in the league in double doubles with 38 and fourth in blocks per game.  Another year under their belt, this dynamic duo is going to be a major problem for opposing teams.  Former first round overall pick Markelle Fultz only played 17 games last season including the playoffs.  Apparently head coach Brett Brown is thinking about starting him in the first half, but not the second half right now.  With Fultz fully healthy, the 76ers are ready to make another leap this season.  Triple double machine Ben Simmons and duel threat Joel Embiid will see plenty of action on my DFS rosters throughout the year.

Toronto Raptors

Last Season Record:  59-23, #1 Seed

Projected Season Record:  56-26

Over the past five years, the Toronto Raptors have been the model of consistency.  They have been a top four seed in the playoffs every year and have won the Atlantic division four out of the last five seasons.  They completed the biggest trade in the off-season as they sent DeMar DeRozan, Jakob Poeltl and a 2019 1st round pick to San Antonio in exchange for Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.  After sitting out most of last season due to injury and problems with the Spurs organization, Leonard was in need of a fresh start.  While his future in Toronto remains up in the air after this season, the Toronto media will be challenged with finding more about Kawhi Leonard besides him being “a fun guy“.  Adding a “three and D” veteran player like Danny Green will help boost a team who shot the third most three pointers per game last season.  The Raptors also acquired free agent Greg Monroe who will be playing for his fourth team in the last two years.  Adding arguably a top five player in the league along with two other solid veterans, the Raptors will have their eyes set on their first NBA Finals appearance in team history.  They will be doing so with newly acquired head coach Nick Nurse.  Nurse has been an assistant with the team since the 2013 season.  After winning Coach Of the Year last season for the Raptors, Dwane Casey was fired and then immediately picked up by the Detroit Pistons.  There will be a lot of early pressure for Nurse to keep the winning tradition of the Raptors alive.  I still feel they’ll be good enough to claim a top four seed in the playoffs and get home field advantage.  Kyle Lowry is the unquestioned leader on this team.  Lowry finished last year with a career high in rebounds as he pulled down 5.6 per game.  He finished third in the league in made three pointers with 238 and fifth in assists with 537.  The 13-year veteran point guard always makes for a great DFS play.  Him and Leonard will be the focal points of this offense.

Tyler Schmidt

28 years old from Savage, MN. I went to Augsburg College in which I played basketball for 4 years and graduated with a bachelor's degree in MIS (Management Information Systems). Even though I live in MN, I'm a die hard Green Bay Packers fan. You can reach out to me on Twitter @tyschmidt4.

tyschmidt22 has 142 posts and counting.See all posts by tyschmidt22

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