The Atlantic Division is still one of the best team groupings in the league, but there’s certainly been a lot of player movement in the division over the past month.
The Toronto Raptors won the 2018-19 NBA championship, but Finals MVP Kawhi Leonard along with Danny Green left in free agency. The 76ers lost Jimmy Butler and J.J. Redick, but they acquired Al Horford and Josh Richardson. The Boston Celtics lost Kyrie Irving and Horford, but gained Kemba Walker. The Brooklyn Nets lost D’Angelo Russell, but they more than made up for it by nabbing Kevin Durant and Irving. And, of course, the Knicks continue to bumble around at the bottom of the division with lots of weird signings.
Two of the sportsbooks that serve the United States of America have opened up with their odds on the NBA’s Atlantic Division. Looking at those, which team is most worthy of your futures’ bets? USAbetting previews each team’s season and makes some betting predictions with a final pick.
Atlantic Division Team Previews
1. Philadelphia 76ers (Best odds: +140 at BetOnline & SportsBetting)
The Sixers are long on height and talent. Ben Simmons, Joel Embiid, Tobias Harris and Al Horford are all 6’9” or taller and All-Star type players in the Eastern Conferences. 6’6” guard Josh Richardson isn’t too far from that level, either, with his strong defense and three-point shooting.
Philly should win a lot of games in the regular season, but their playoff destiny depends a lot on how many players from their bench can contribute positively. Additionally, the team doesn’t have great shooting and needs to get some serious leaps in that skill from its players this offseason.
Record prediction: 56-26
2. Boston Celtics (Best odds: +275 at BetOnline & SportsBetting)
Kyrie Irving is gone, but signing Kemba Walker from the Charlotte Hornets to replace him at point guard is only a slight downgrade. Plus, Walker has been much more durable in the past few years. It will certainly be interesting to see Walker play with a decent offensive supporting cast, for once.
Losing Al Horford is a big deal, though. Boston has a bunch of big men, but one of them needs to show themselves as a reliable starting center. On the positive side, the Celtics should get better performances from wings Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Gordon Hayward. Tatum and Brown are very young and never found their groove last season, and Hayward is another year removed from major leg surgery.
Record prediction: 49-33
3. Brooklyn Nets (Best odds: +450 at BetOnline & SportsBetting)
The Nets’ offseason went about as well as they could have expected. Brooklyn landed superstars Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving, though Durant is likely out for all or most of the season recovering from Achilles surgery.
Without Durant, though, the Nets are just a pretty good team. Irving is excellent, but after him it’s a few solid players (Spencer Dinwiddie, Caris LeVert and Joe Harris) and then a bunch of decent players. The talent on this roster will move up several notches once Durant is back and playing at his high standards.
Record prediction: 47-35
4. Toronto Raptors (Best odds: +350 at BetOnline & SportsBetting)
The reigning NBA champions will take a tumble in 2019-20, but they will still make the playoffs. Remember, Toronto went 17-5 without Kawhi Leonard in the lineup last season.
The losses of Leonard and Danny Green in free agency are still huge. Both were strong three-point and excellent shooters, and Leonard ran the offense when he was playing. It will be interesting to see who takes on the featured offensive role in Toronto next season. Will it be Kyle Lowry, Pascal Siakam or Marc Gasol?
Record prediction: 46-36
5. New York Knicks (Best odds: +10000 at BetOnline & SportsBetting)
The Knicks’ front office continues to make confusing decisions. This offseason, they struck out on several of the big free agents, then proceeded to sign almost every power forward on the market.
Julius Randle, Marcus Morris, Bobby Portis and Taj Gibson all signed this offseason and will earn a combined $57 million in 2019-20. Other middling guards Elfrid Payton and Wayne Ellington also joined the squad for a combined $16 million.
Despite these signings, New York will still likely rely a lot on underdeveloped, young players like R.J. Barrett, Kevin Knox, Mitchell Robinson, Dennis Smith Jr., Frank Ntilikina, Allonzo Trier and Damyean Dotson. The Knicks’ combination of raw prospects and uninspiring veterans (except for Randle) won’t lead to many wins.
Record prediction: 25-57
Atlantic Division Betting Suggestions, Picks & Predictions
The best betting option for this division seems simple: the Philadelphia 76ers. At odds of +140, that implies just a 41.7 percent chance that they win the division. I would put that number considerably higher.
The Sixers have four All-Star caliber players and one other very strong starter. They have a roster that should do pretty well in the event of any of their four stars getting injured. The other three solid rosters in this division don’t have nearly as much injury insurance. The Knicks’ roster is just so much worse than the other teams in this division. They won’t be a factor.