Published on 9 Oct 2022 12:41 am (UK Time)
The 2022-2023 NBA Season is right around the corner. While there were many eye-opening blockbuster acquisitions during the Free Agency Market period over the summer, seeing their action on their new teams remains to be seen. In the Atlantic Division, the Boston Celtics may rule the Eastern Conference, but now face tough competition outside of their division. The Brooklyn Nets went through a tumultuous summer, but appear to have patched things up with Kevin Durant, but for how long?
The Philadelphia 76ers were eliminated once again in the second round, but one has to wonder how long can they trust the process until the process falls apart. During the free agency period, the Sixers acquired PJ Tucker from the Miami Heat, who brings some championship expertise with him. If Philadelphia is going to make the jump from being second-round exits to deep playoff threats, they will have to keep Joel Embiid clear of any injuries and James Harden being healthy. Tyrese Maxey, who had a breakout season, should find himself elevating his game.
Predictions: Philadelphia has all the tools needed to make a deep playoff run, but injuries and antics such as flopping need to be addressed. Tyrese Maxey will become an all-star, but seeing how packed the Eastern Conference is with stars and potential all-stars, it will be a challenge.
Starting Lineup: Tyrese Maxey, James Harden, Tobias Harris, PJ Tucker, and Joel Embiid
All eyes were on the Brooklyn Nets all summer long during the free agency period to see whether or not Kevin Durant will join a new team or not. Thankfully for Brooklyn, KD agreed to stay in Brooklyn, but who knows when the drama could re-appear. The Nets were eliminated in the first round by Boston but will look for a measure of revenge when the two face each other. The only free agency signing of note for the Nets was signing Markieff Morris from the Miami Heat.
Predictions: Brooklyn should be one of the top teams in the Eastern Conference, along with Boston and Milwaukee, but it all depends if the Nets organization and Durant are on the same page. The same can be said for Kyrie Irving.
Starting Lineup: Kyrie Irving, Joe Harris, Kevin Durant, Ben Simmons, and Nic Claxton
New York Knicks
What could be said about the New York Knicks that hasn’t been said already? Two seasons ago, they made their first playoff appearance since 2013, but they regressed last season. The good news for New York is that they still have their young core and added Jalen Brunson to their roster during the free-agency period. The bad news is that the Knicks find themselves in not only a tough Atlantic Division but also a much tougher Eastern Conference.
Jalen Brunson will most definitely be looked at as a key piece to help New York on the offensive and defensive end, but how will he and the Knicks hold up against Boston, Brooklyn, Milwaukee, and the rest of the East? R.J. Barrett, much like Tyrese Maxey, has all the offensive tools to be an all-star, but it will be a challenge to get noticed.
Predictions: The Knicks could find themselves in either the middle or bottom of the pack in the Atlantic Division, depending on how Brunson, Barrett, Randle, and Toppin will play. Ultimately, New York will be a bottom-of-the-pack team that has some growth and potential. They will be in the draft lottery but will miss out on nabbing the number one pick. While on the subject of Barrett, he could be an all-star or something close to it.
Starting Lineup: Jalen Brunson, Evan Fournier, R.J. Barrett, Julius Randle, Mitchell Robinson
The Celtics won the Eastern Conference championship but didn’t win the NBA Finals against the Golden State Warriors. In the free agency period, Boston acquired Danilo Gallinari, who will sit out with an ACL to miss the entire upcoming season. In response to this, the Shamrocks signed Blake Griffin. Boston is still a top team, but lingering injuries and possible production dips could hinder them in a highly competitive Eastern Conference. As long as the Celtics have Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown, they should be okay…for now.
Predictions: Boston can make the Finals again, but getting there will be as much of a challenge as last season was. Teams such as Brooklyn, Philadelphia, Miami, Atlanta, and especially Milwaukee could spell the difference between playing in the Finals or sitting at home watching them. Tatum and Brown will be the all-star choices, and so will Marcus Smart.
Starting Lineup: Marcus Smart, Derrick White, Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, and Al Horford
The Raptors were the 5th seed in last season’s Eastern Conference playoffs, shocking many fans. Despite their first-round exit, Toronto still remains a formidable team. With the Eastern Conference as loaded and competitive as it’s ever been, the Raps will have to continue being that formidable team and playing spoiler to the elite teams, though it’s more of a 50-50 chance now. Scottie Barnes was fun to watch as a rookie, but now it will be time for him to make the jump, much like how Fred VanVleet did. There is no doubt that Toronto will be an interesting team to look at.
Predictions: Given the state of the Eastern Conference right now, Toronto could find themselves as a play-in team at best, but if last season is anything to go by, the Raptors could make another surprise in ranking among the top six teams in the East. Scottie Barnes will become an all-star for Toronto, giving them another player they can build around with Pascal Siakam and VanVleet.
Starting Lineup: Fred VanVleet, Gary Trent Jr., Scottie Barnes, Pascal Siakam, and Precious Achiuwa
Boston will surely be atop of the Atlantic Division, but the closest competition they will have is Brooklyn, that is if the Nets can steer clear of drama, and Philadelphia, now that they have a championship player in Tucker. Toronto is a wild card of a team, with their growing young talent that could make some noise and play upset to any of the top three, most likely Brooklyn and/or Philadelphia. New York is New York, but they won’t be pushovers in what could be the most competitive division in the Eastern Conference.
NBA Atlantic Division Predictions:
New York Knicks