NBA team profiles for 2015/16 season: Atlantic Division
Daniel Coyle, American Sports Correspondent | October 19, 2015
2015/16 Atlantic Division NBA team profiles
Toronto Raptors are two-time defending Atlantic Division champions, but are coming off a season in which they were the only team from their area with a winning record, making the Atlantic the weakest in the NBA.
Little will change this campaign, with Boston Celtics making minimal changes to a vanilla lineup, Brooklyn Nets now paying for years of overspending, while New York Knicks failed to attract any star talent during the summer. Philadelphia 76ers will once again be a lottery team but, with a growing stable of young stars, could be the most entertaining in the division.
- NBA Championship futures betting odds: 50/1
- Atlantic Division futures betting odds: 2/9
- 2014/15 record: 49-33
The Raptors won 13 of their first 15 en route to their second straight divisional title. But after wrapping up the regular season on a brutal 4-10 run, both SU and ATS, Toronto suffered yet another playoff disappointment, getting swept in the first round by Washington.
Free agent forward Demarre Carroll’s addition should help improve Toronto’s defense, which ranked 18th in the league last season, while prodigal son and former No. 1 overall pick Anthony Bennett joins his hometown club after getting bought out by Minnesota.
The Raptors look poised to capture their third straight Atlantic Division crown. But following a pair of first-round playoff flameouts, the only thing that matters in T-Dot is post-season success.
- NBA Championship futures betting odds: 100/1
- Atlantic Division futures betting odds: 9/2
- 2014/15 record: 40-42
After opening the season with distant 33/1 odds to win the Atlantic, and as 200/1 NBA Championship longshots, the Celtics exceeded expectations by claiming 50 ATS victories, tied for third in the NBA, and winning nine of their last 10, to finish second in the division and seventh in the Eastern Conference. The club was promptly swept in the first-round by Cleveland, but hits the hardwood this campaign amid raised expectations.
General manager Danny Ainge failed in his repeated attempts to move up at last spring’s NBA Draft. A full season with a healthy Isaiah Thomas and Jae Crowder, both mid-term acquisitions last year, along with the signing of power forward Amir Johnson away from Toronto, positions the Celtics to at least match 2014/15’s hard-working, lunch pail performance.
- NBA Championship futures betting odds: 150/1
- Atlantic Division futures betting odds: 18/1
- 2014/15 record: 38-44
The Nets will be looking to bounce back from a disappointing campaign in which they endured three lengthy regular-season SU losing streaks to finish well below .500, and tallied a feeble 18-24-2 ATS record at home despite owning the NBA’s largest payroll and as a 9/4 bet to win the division.
Point guard Deron Williams’ departure, after being bought out during the summer, should offer relief, both on the salary cap and in the dressing room. Additions of Andrea Bargnani, Thomas Robinson, and Shane Larkin, all reclamation projects, fit the Nets’ current realities as a team suffering a serious hangover following a failed, big-contract binge. The road back to glory might be a long one for the Nets.
New York Knicks
- NBA Championship futures betting odds: 200/1
- Atlantic Division futures betting odds: 18/1
- 2014/15 record: 17-65
Following a 29th place finish last season, the Knicks have nowhere to go but up. Their 91.9 points per game was the league’s worst, while their 10 SU home wins topped only the Minnesota Timberwolves, and the team was pegged as a betting favourite just eight times, covering on three occasions.
GM Phil Jackson was unable spend on big contracts this summer, instead making a pair of low-key defensive additions in Arron Afflalo and Robin Lopez. Jackson shocked the Knicks’ faithful by selecting Latvian power forward Kristaps Porzingis with the fourth overall pick at this year’s NBA Draft, and still have eight-time all-star Carmelo Anthony in the fold. The question remains, for how long. The ageing Melo has yet to win a championship, and could want out if the Knicks fail to show improvement.
- NBA Championship futures betting odds: 250/1
- Atlantic Division futures betting odds: 100/1
- 2014/15 record: 18-64
The Sixers opened last season with 17 consecutive SU losses and closed it with 10 straight losses, and failed to win more than two straight all season. But the club posted a respectable 40-40-2 ATS record, going 23-18 ATS at home, despite losing Joel Embiid, whom they drafted No. 3 overall in 2014, for the campaign due to a foot injury.
Following a severe setback, Embiid will once again be sidelined for the entire season. But, with the addition of this year’s No. 3 pick, center Jahlil Okafor, who sports strong 4/1 odds to claim NBA Rookie of the Year honours, former top pick Nik Stauskas, and veteran forward Carl Landry, who adds some much needed experience to this young club, the rebuild looks headed in the right direction. However, patience remains key, with the Sixers likely headed toward another lottery pick this season.
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