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NBA 2018/19 Predictions – Atlantic Division


As a Celtics fan I’m happily predicting the Atlantic for another year. Looking back to last year I think all the teams in the Division have made improvements, but that’s what everyone says in the pre-season. Anyway here are my thoughts.


pg: Kyrie Irving, Terry Rozier

sg: Jaylen Brown, Marcus Smart

sf: Gordon Haywood, Semi Ojeleye

pf: Jayson Tatum, Marcus Morris, Guerschon Yabusele

c: Al Horford, Aron Baynes, Robert Williams

coach: Brad Stevens

Two minutes into the start of last season, the horrific injury to Hayward threatened to derail last year before it started. Losing their star free agent, also Kyrie’s knee injury late just before the playoffs, could’ve put the Celtics out of serious contention but to their credit it didn’t. There’s something to really like about the make up of this group.

Watching NBA since the start of the 90’s I have noticed that all championship teams in that time have a few key ingredients in common albeit in various degrees. These qualities are having star power, great defensively, flexibility in all ways, internal competition for spots, quality bench guys buying in to a great coach and usually someone playing the super role player (plus some luck). Examples of what I mean by super role players are Ben Wallace, Chris Bosh, Manu Ginobili and Andre Iguodala, stars that sacrifice. I’m confident Boston has all of these elements (who knows about the luck yet?), the only debatable one is star power. With Kyrie taking another step towards superstardom (and away from flat earth theory) or Jayson Tatum working his way into these conversations would close the door on that. After all that I think it is time to embrace expectations Beantown, the Celtics are officially on the clock for a title. My prediction:

1st in the Atlantic with a 63-19 win/loss record.



pg: D’Angelo Russell, Shabazz Napier

sg: Spencer Dinwiddie, Allen Crabbe, Joe Harris

sf: DeMarre Carroll, Caris LeVert

pf: Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Kenneth Faried

c: Jarrett Allen, Ed Davis

coach: Kenny Atkinson

Other than having the most apostrophe’s, hyphen’s and capiTal letters in funny places in their names! This team doesn’t have a lot going for it, but that’s okay. In saying that at least they are heading in the right direction. This current group working behind the scenes have actually done a pretty decent job considering that they haven’t had their own draft pick for years now.

Drafting Jarrett Allen last year late in the first round to becoming a future starter on a good team shows Spurs-esque recruiting. Also taking on bad contracts of other teams as long as there is a sweetner attached was a smart and probably only way to build for them. Talk of Russell being inspired by Devin Booker’s progress (contract) is positive so hopefully he is growing into what talented number 2 picks should show and out of his immature/blabbermouth stage he was into for a while there. Throw into the mix RH-J, Caris and DeMarre with the addition of Ed as the core, this roster makes for a good foundation.

All in all with draft picks back,  good young prospects to develop, a great arena located in the premier side borough of New York (starting to sound like a real estate agent). My prediction is jumping a spot to:

4th in the Atlantic with a 32-50 win/loss record.



pg: Trey Burke, Frank Ntilikina

sg: Courtney Lee, Mario Hezonja

sf: Tim Hardaway Jr, Kevin Knox

pf: Kristaps Porzingis, Noah Vonleh

c: Enes Kanter, Mitchell Robinson

coach: David Fizdale

New York was dealt a big blow last year with Porzingis going down with a knee injury, but this might be a blessing in disguise. The Knicks have historically been a “throw money at the big name, has been” type of franchise, the James Dolan way. He seems like one of the biggest douches of an owner, (just ask Charles Oakley). This philosophy might sell tickets to occasional/fair weather basketball fan but it just doesn’t help if you want to develop a winning culture. Great location Madison Square Garden and newly renovated, the time is know for sustainable basketball success to return to New York.

Winning always starts with patience through the draft, whether those players are team stalwarts or assets to trade, this is the only way to build a longterm contender. The flexibility this offers a GM makes his job easier and good things will follow. Thankfully the Knicks finally seem to be headed in this direction drafting both Kevin Knox and Mitchell Robinson who look like they can play. With second chances given to Burke and Hezonja also Franky (French Prince’s) second year this team might actually be good to watch. Add in the big Turkey and a healthy Kristaps who is a genuine star, by the end of the year they might be a key free agent destination (on the rise free agent James!). For basketball’s sake don’t stuff it up Dolan. In hopefully the last down year for New York I predict that they will end up:

5th in the Atlantic with 28-52 win/loss record.



pg: Ben Simmons, T.J. McConnell

sg: J.J. Reddick, Markelle Fultz

sf: Robert Covington, Wilson Chandler, Zhaire Smith

pf: Dario Saric, Mike Muscala

c: Joel Embiid

coach: Brett Brown

Philadelphia is not far away from putting their hand up and contending for a finals berth. The Sixers were close last year, they had the right veterans and the star power was there. Just missing one more key piece, and I think that might’ve been their 2017 draft choice. Not that I think Fultz is bad, its that he wasn’t ready last year. I think adding anyone else high up in that draft (with a scorers mentality) could have got them past a depleted Celtics and a played out Cavaliers squad. What if heh??

Anyway that was then and this is now and the now and the future looks pretty rosy. Simmons is a year older and wiser, positive for a young up and comer especially a decision making point guard. He is rare breed of legit handles at 6-10, lookout when he can get a semi reliable jumpshot. Embiid is also a do it all monster in a league made up of “smallball” centres, with a personality similar to a young Shaq. That’s two All-NBA talent guys, this is the year to find out who is going to step up to be the third banana. Dario can flat out ball but as I said earlier Markelle is the key to this team’s success. I know that there have been plenty of high draft busts through the years but I’m thinking Fultz isn’t one of them. Here’s hoping he reaches his “James Harden-esque lite” potential (more defense, less dribbling) and propels this franchise to great heights. The absolute height of this team is the next Dynasty but I’m not going that far. My prediction is for them to be:

2nd in the Atlantic with a 56-26 win/loss record.



pg: Kyle Lowry, Delon Wright

sg: Danny Green, Fred VanVleet

sf: Kawhi Leonard, O.G. Anunoby, C.J. Miles

pf: Serge Ibaka, Pascal Siakam

c: Jonas Valanciunas, Greg Monroe

coach: Nick Nurse

This is the year for the Raptors to swing for the fences and go for it. Heartbreaking for DeRozan and Toronto fans to part ways seeing he was so committed, but I think these guys had been given enough opportunities to advance further in the playoffs. Masai had really no choice but to do something different and different it was by making a blockbuster trade for a disgruntled Kawhi in San Antonio. This can go really well or really bad (Nique/Manning swap) for the Raptors, but that’s the place to be in the NBA. Middle of the road is no mans land for an NBA franchise. The DeRozan lead team had run it’s course, if Kawhi leaves as a free agent next year at least they are contending one last time. They were probably going to be just average at best without change.

I’m hopeful than this plan works, (Paul George stayed) and we get the 2014 finals MVP version of Leonard. Not just for the city of Toronto (Canada’s team) but to keep an All-NBA talent in the Eastern Conference. With Danny Green’s finals experience coming in the trade they have one last chance to make some real deep noise in the Playoffs. I think with the new additions, new head coach and refining line ups this could take a bit of time but my prediction is them to be:

3rd in the Atlantic with a 53-29 win/loss record.

That’s it for the Atlantic where cold weather, big cities and minimal Trump support (especially in Canada) are the order of the day. Can’t wait for the NBA season to start.


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