Analyzing the Atlantic Division's Offseason Moves

First of all, I would just like to clear things up. Me and Sportsbreakdowns actually had the exact same idea on the exact same day. Nobody copied anyone. Just wanted everyone to be aware.


My strong opinion is that the Atlantic Division is the most powerful and skilled division in the NBA. With the Celtics, Knicks, Nets, Raptors, and Sixers, this division already has three teams that could make a finals run.

Let's start with the Celtics. This offseason, they lost Gordon Hayward to the Hornets, Enes Kanter to the Trailblazers, Brad Wanamaker to the Warriors, and Vincent Poirier to the Thunder. However, they added both Tristan Thompson and Jeff Teague. In the draft, they picked up Aaron Nesmith with the 14th pick and Payton Pritchard with the 26th pick.

Losing Hayward may have hurt, but Celtics fans have a reason to be happy. Hayward carried a humongous contract that the Celtics could use to sign multiple players or one above average all-star. The Celtics might want to retain as much cap space as possible for next year's stacked free agency class. This draft is not only packed with all-stars, but it is also vastly extensive all the way to the bottom. The Celtics will look to sign a couple of free agents next year to add to their depth. Losing Enes Kanter could go both ways. Kanter is one of the best paint presences on offense in the entire league, shooting close to 80% from under the rim. They also lost their backup point guard in Brad Wanamaker to the Warriors. The Celtics upgraded, acquiring Tristan Thomspon from the Cavaliers. Although fans are complaining that Thompson is not the agile and athletic player the Celtics were rumored to have been looking for, he is a fantastic rebounder and will get the job done in the paint whether he's on offense or defense. Jeff Teague, on the other hand, will bring a strong veteran presence that the youngsters in Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Robert Williams, etc. could most definitely lean on in the future. Teague's leadership will also help give them an extra boost in the playoffs as they will try their best to make it to the finals this year.

New York Knicks

This offseason, the Knicks parted ways with Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, Maurice Harkless, Wayne Ellington, and Damyean Dotson. Despite the departures, they acquired Austin Rivers, Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, Omari Spellman, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. They drafted Obi Toppin with the 8th pick and Immanuel Quickley with the 25th.

Knicks fans might not have liked to see Portis and Ellington go, but it's for the better. Portis was only averaging 10 PPG, yet he was going to bring in $15,750,000. Waiving Taj Gibson was also for the best. He was going to be paid $9,450,000 this season for averaging a measly 6.1 PPG in just 16.5 minutes played per game. Letting Harkless go should've been a rather obvious decision. He was only averaging 6.8 PPG in 23.8 MPG, all while being paid $11,011,236 over last season. The loss of Wayne Ellington wasn't a big deal either, as he was a 5.1 PPG scorer who was going to be paid $8,000,000. I think they would rather live with the $1,000,000 partially guaranteed contract that they owe him so they can go pick up a considerably younger, equally as good player for half the price.

Moving on to the newly acquired players, we'll start with Rivers. Austin Rivers is one of those players who is both underrated and overrated at the same time. He's underrated because he could go off for 20, and in rare times like that phenomenal game we saw from him in the bubble, he has the skillset to go off for 41 points. However, his stats and shooting percentages are simply mediocre. Last year with the Rockets, he managed to score 8.8 PPG, 2.6 RPG, and 1.7 APG in 23.4 MPG. Now, he was coming off the bench with minimal minutes, but he was the 6th man on that Rockets team. When he was on the court with the other backups, he was the one who had the ball in his hands the majority of the time. With the Knicks acquiring him for $3,174,603, Rivers will see an increase in MPG, which will bump up the averages for him significantly. So, how will he fit in with the other guards? Elfrid Payton will likely start at point guard, which removes Rivers from that conversation unless he wants to be the backup again, so who should start at the shooting guard position? I'm going with Alec Burks 100%. When Burks last played for the Sixers, he averaged 12.2 PPG in just 20.2 MPG. This was off of 46.1 FG% and 41.6% from three. Adding a guard scorer like Burks to this Knicks offense instead of a power forward or center scorer like Randle is something they need. Randle will continue to score, trust me, but Alec Burks will lighten the load. So where does that leave Rivers with R.J. Barrett plausibly taking over the starting SF spot? That leaves him on the bench with Frank Ntilikina. The Knicks also signed Alec Burks to a $6,000,000 deal. That is a considerable increase from his last year with the Sixers when they had him under contract for $2,320,044. This shows that the Knicks notice Burks' talent and sincerely want him on the team. This also shows that other teams were interested. If no other teams were engaging with Burks, the Knicks wouldn't pay him this much.

The signing of Nerlens Noel was a strong one. This was likely another case of teams battling over one player, and the Knicks one. The reason I say this is, Noel was paid $2,028,594 during his last year with the Thunder. At the end of this season, he will be paid $5,000,000. So what will he bring to the table to improve the Knicks? With Taj Gibson heading out of New York, adding another F/C to the roster is a solid move. The question is, who do you start? The question will be Mitchell Robinson or Nerlens Noel, and this is 100% the coach's decision. These players are almost identical, they both shoot extremely well from the field, and maybe one three per season. They are both solid rebounders, but poor free throw shooters. Robinson only shot 56.8% from the line last year. If you want to start, you need to get your free throw shooting under control.

Brooklyn Nets

This offseason, the Nets parted ways with Garret Temple, Justin Anderson, Wilson Chandler, Dzanan Musa, Donta Hall, Jamal Crawford, and Lance Thomas. Despite all the outgoing players, the Nets acquired Bruce Brown, Jeff Green, and Landry Shamet. They drafted Reggie Perry with the 57th pick.

This is probably the toughest team to grade because the players they released aren't big names. We'll start with Garrett Temple. Temple, believe it or not, just came off of his best season so far in the NBA while he was with the Nets at age 33. He averaged 10.3 PPG and shot the best from the free throw line than he ever has in his career. If the team chose to keep him, his salary would've been $5,005,350 for the final year of his contract. Losing Garrett Temple, or frankly, any of the players they lost, will not be a big deal because of the depth (at this moment) that they have as a team. With the players they already had, plus the new players they have acquired, letting Temple and the others go was the right move, as they have to make room for new talent.

Let's go ahead and discuss the acquisitions made by the Nets. Bruce Brown may not light up your eyes, but he will be a solid off the bench scorer. Does this mean he will average 12 PPG? Probably not because of all the other talent they currently have coming off the bench. I could see a repeat of his performance from last season with the Pistons where he averaged 8.9 PPG while shooting mediocre percentages from the floor. The Nets are also obtaining him for an extremely low price of $1,663,861. He will have a qualifying offer of $2,079,826 if he chooses to accept it. How will Jeff Green fit in as a Net? Well, Green is coming off a great year with the Rockets, averaging 12.2 PPG on a career-high FG%, 56.4%. Let's also keep in mind that he was only playing 22.6 MPG. This year, the Nets forwards (small forwards and power forwards both included because Green can play both) consist of Kevin Durant, Caris LeVert, Rodions Kurucs, Taurean Prince, and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot. Fitting Green into the rotation will be tough, but I see him getting playing time, mainly at the four position, however, which he should be more prepared for, as he spent most of his time in Houston playing center. I could see Green getting used to the backup power forward role, as my Brooklyn Nets starting lineup would be Irving, Harris, LeVert, Durant, and Allen. This means that the backup rotation would include Dinwiddie, Bruce Brown or Landry Shamet, Taurean Prince, Jeff Green, and DeAndre Jordan. I know that the official depth chart says that Landry Shamet will backup at the SF position and Taurean Prince backing up at the PF position, but I just don't see this working out for the best. Unless the Nets want to play small ball with a 6'4 SF and a 6'7 PF, I don't think that's the best option for them.

Tampa Bay Raptors

This offseason, the Raptors parted ways with Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Malcolm Miller, and Dewan Hernandez. Through the departures, they acquired Aron Baynes, Alex Len, DeAndre Bembry, and Henry Ellenson. In the draft, they acquired Malachi Flynn with the 29th pick and Jalen Harris with the 59th pick.

Although it may have hurt, separating with Ibaka and Gasol will open up some much needed cap space. Letting Hollis-Jefferson go was surely not a problem for the Raptors as he was only averaging 7 PPG in just 18.7 MPG. So it's clear that he wasn't being utilized much and the Raptors decided they should look around for someone with more talent. Letting go of Malcolm Miller and Dewan Hernandez was simply making cuts to the team, and Miller and Hernandez just weren't needed any longer, and like I just said, Masai Ujuri will explore the NBA (and other leagues) for bigger and better talent. Now onto the new acquisitions, starting with Aron Baynes. At 33, Baynes is fresh off of a career-best season and still looking to improve. It's a little crazy to see how Baynes moves on the court and to realize that he's 33. My only concern surrounding Baynes is simply his age. He's had very few injuries throughout his career and is one of the toughest men in the league, so I think he still has a lot left in the tank. In addition to that, I believe that he will continue to stay healthy unless something unique happens where a player comes down on him awkwardly. What I mean is, he's not going to hurt himself, the only way he would get injured is if another player caused it. Personally, I am a fan of Baynes. I love how he is willing to take the hits (charges) and sacrifice his body for his team. It shows how much he cares and that he will not back off no matter what. Even though he is one of the most dunked on players in the league, he doesn't care, he continues to stand tall in the paint and do his best to have an effect on shots. Also, his ability to nail the outside shot improves his value as well. I'm not a big fan of how much they are paying Baynes at the moment ($7M) but all this means is that other teams were interested in him and the Raptors won the auction. The rest of the pickups could go either way, so I'll just save the reader some time and go through them quickly. Both of them will be playing this upcoming season for less than $3M, so on the salary side, that is good news. Len brings a shot-blocking presence to the paint with the talent to be able to score on the offensive end as well, and sometimes from range. Bembry is more of a slasher, only shooting 23.1% from three. He is a poor free throw shooter (59.2% throughout his career) and is just not much or a scorer (5.8 PPG/21.3 MPG).

I will be doing a separate article going through the Sixers' offseason moves and all Morey has done for the franchise. That article comes out next.

My strong opinion is that the Atlantic Division is the most powerful and skilled division in the NBA. With the Celtics, Knicks, Nets, Raptors, and Sixers, this division already has three teams that could make a finals run.

Let's start with the Celtics. This offseason, they lost Gordon Hayward to the Hornets, Enes Kanter to the Trailblazers, Brad Wanamaker to the Warriors, and Vincent Poirier to the Thunder. However, they added both Tristan Thompson and Jeff Teague. In the draft, they picked up Aaron Nesmith with the 14th pick and Payton Pritchard with the 26th pick.

Losing Hayward may have hurt, but Celtics fans have a reason to be happy. Hayward carried a humongous contract that the Celtics could use to sign multiple players or one above average all-star. The Celtics might want to retain as much cap space as possible for next year's stacked free agency class. This draft is not only packed with all-stars, but it is also vastly extensive all the way to the bottom. The Celtics will look to sign a couple of free agents next year to add to their depth. Losing Enes Kanter could go both ways. Kanter is one of the best paint presences on offense in the entire league, shooting close to 80% from under the rim. They also lost their backup point guard in Brad Wanamaker to the Warriors. The Celtics upgraded, acquiring Tristan Thomspon from the Cavaliers. Although fans are complaining that Thompson is not the agile and athletic player the Celtics were rumored to have been looking for, he is a fantastic rebounder and will get the job done in the paint whether he's on offense or defense. Jeff Teague, on the other hand, will bring a strong veteran presence that the youngsters in Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown, Robert Williams, etc. could most definitely lean on in the future. Teague's leadership will also help give them an extra boost in the playoffs as they will try their best to make it to the finals this year.

New York Knicks

This offseason, the Knicks parted ways with Bobby Portis, Taj Gibson, Maurice Harkless, Wayne Ellington, and Damyean Dotson. Despite the departures, they acquired Austin Rivers, Alec Burks, Nerlens Noel, Omari Spellman, and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. They drafted Obi Toppin with the 8th pick and Immanuel Quickley with the 25th.

Knicks fans might not have liked to see Portis and Ellington go, but it's for the better. Portis was only averaging 10 PPG, yet he was going to bring in $15,750,000. Waiving Taj Gibson was also for the best. He was going to be paid $9,450,000 this season for averaging a measly 6.1 PPG in just 16.5 minutes played per game. Letting Harkless go should've been a rather obvious decision. He was only averaging 6.8 PPG in 23.8 MPG, all while being paid $11,011,236 over last season. The loss of Wayne Ellington wasn't a big deal either, as he was a 5.1 PPG scorer who was going to be paid $8,000,000. I think they would rather live with the $1,000,000 partially guaranteed contract that they owe him so they can go pick up a considerably younger, equally as good player for half the price.

Moving on to the newly acquired players, we'll start with Rivers. Austin Rivers is one of those players who is both underrated and overrated at the same time. He's underrated because he could go off for 20, and in rare times like that phenomenal game we saw from him in the bubble, he has the skillset to go off for 41 points. However, his stats and shooting percentages are simply mediocre. Last year with the Rockets, he managed to score 8.8 PPG, 2.6 RPG, and 1.7 APG in 23.4 MPG. Now, he was coming off the bench with minimal minutes, but he was the 6th man on that Rockets team. When he was on the court with the other backups, he was the one who had the ball in his hands the majority of the time. With the Knicks acquiring him for $3,174,603, Rivers will see an increase in MPG, which will bump up the averages for him significantly. So, how will he fit in with the other guards? Elfrid Payton will likely start at point guard, which removes Rivers from that conversation unless he wants to be the backup again, so who should start at the shooting guard position? I'm going with Alec Burks 100%. When Burks last played for the Sixers, he averaged 12.2 PPG in just 20.2 MPG. This was off of 46.1 FG% and 41.6% from three. Adding a guard scorer like Burks to this Knicks offense instead of a power forward or center scorer like Randle is something they need. Randle will continue to score, trust me, but Alec Burks will lighten the load. So where does that leave Rivers with R.J. Barrett plausibly taking over the starting SF spot? That leaves him on the bench with Frank Ntilikina. The Knicks also signed Alec Burks to a $6,000,000 deal. That is a considerable increase from his last year with the Sixers when they had him under contract for $2,320,044. This shows that the Knicks notice Burks' talent and sincerely want him on the team. This also shows that other teams were interested. If no other teams were engaging with Burks, the Knicks wouldn't pay him this much.

The signing of Nerlens Noel was a strong one. This was likely another case of teams battling over one player, and the Knicks one. The reason I say this is, Noel was paid $2,028,594 during his last year with the Thunder. At the end of this season, he will be paid $5,000,000. So what will he bring to the table to improve the Knicks? With Taj Gibson heading out of New York, adding another F/C to the roster is a solid move. The question is, who do you start? The question will be Mitchell Robinson or Nerlens Noel, and this is 100% the coach's decision. These players are almost identical, they both shoot extremely well from the field, and maybe one three per season. They are both solid rebounders, but poor free throw shooters. Robinson only shot 56.8% from the line last year. If you want to start, you need to get your free throw shooting under control.

Brooklyn Nets

This offseason, the Nets parted ways with Garret Temple, Justin Anderson, Wilson Chandler, Dzanan Musa, Donta Hall, Jamal Crawford, and Lance Thomas. Despite all the outgoing players, the Nets acquired Bruce Brown, Jeff Green, and Landry Shamet. They drafted Reggie Perry with the 57th pick.

This is probably the toughest team to grade because the players they released aren't big names. We'll start with Garrett Temple. Temple, believe it or not, just came off of his best season so far in the NBA while he was with the Nets at age 33. He averaged 10.3 PPG and shot the best from the free throw line than he ever has in his career. If the team chose to keep him, his salary would've been $5,005,350 for the final year of his contract. Losing Garrett Temple, or frankly, any of the players they lost, will not be a big deal because of the depth (at this moment) that they have as a team. With the players they already had, plus the new players they have acquired, letting Temple and the others go was the right move, as they have to make room for new talent.

Let's go ahead and discuss the acquisitions made by the Nets. Bruce Brown may not light up your eyes, but he will be a solid off the bench scorer. Does this mean he will average 12 PPG? Probably not because of all the other talent they currently have coming off the bench. I could see a repeat of his performance from last season with the Pistons where he averaged 8.9 PPG while shooting mediocre percentages from the floor. The Nets are also obtaining him for an extremely low price of $1,663,861. He will have a qualifying offer of $2,079,826 if he chooses to accept it. How will Jeff Green fit in as a Net? Well, Green is coming off a great year with the Rockets, averaging 12.2 PPG on a career-high FG%, 56.4%. Let's also keep in mind that he was only playing 22.6 MPG. This year, the Nets forwards (small forwards and power forwards both included because Green can play both) consist of Kevin Durant, Caris LeVert, Rodions Kurucs, Taurean Prince, and Timothé Luwawu-Cabarrot. Fitting Green into the rotation will be tough, but I see him getting playing time, mainly at the four position, however, which he should be more prepared for, as he spent most of his time in Houston playing center. I could see Green getting used to the backup power forward role, as my Brooklyn Nets starting lineup would be Irving, Harris, LeVert, Durant, and Allen. This means that the backup rotation would include Dinwiddie, Bruce Brown or Landry Shamet, Taurean Prince, Jeff Green, and DeAndre Jordan. I know that the official depth chart says that Landry Shamet will backup at the SF position and Taurean Prince backing up at the PF position, but I just don't see this working out for the best. Unless the Nets want to play small ball with a 6'4 SF and a 6'7 PF, I don't think that's the best option for them.

Tampa Bay Raptors

This offseason, the Raptors parted ways with Serge Ibaka, Marc Gasol, Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Malcolm Miller, and Dewan Hernandez. Through the departures, they acquired Aron Baynes, Alex Len, DeAndre Bembry, and Henry Ellenson. In the draft, they acquired Malachi Flynn with the 29th pick and Jalen Harris with the 59th pick.

Although it may have hurt, separating with Ibaka and Gasol will open up some much needed cap space. Letting Hollis-Jefferson go was surely not a problem for the Raptors as he was only averaging 7 PPG in just 18.7 MPG. So it's clear that he wasn't being utilized much and the Raptors decided they should look around for someone with more talent. Letting go of Malcolm Miller and Dewan Hernandez was simply making cuts to the team, and Miller and Hernandez just weren't needed any longer, and like I just said, Masai Ujuri will explore the NBA (and other leagues) for bigger and better talent. Now onto the new acquisitions, starting with Aron Baynes. At 33, Baynes is fresh off of a career-best season and still looking to improve. It's a little crazy to see how Baynes moves on the court and to realize that he's 33. My only concern surrounding Baynes is simply his age. He's had very few injuries throughout his career and is one of the toughest men in the league, so I think he still has a lot left in the tank. In addition to that, I believe that he will continue to stay healthy unless something unique happens where a player comes down on him awkwardly. What I mean is, he's not going to hurt himself, the only way he would get injured is if another player caused it. Personally, I am a fan of Baynes. I love how he is willing to take the hits (charges) and sacrifice his body for his team. It shows how much he cares and that he will not back off no matter what. Even though he is one of the most dunked on players in the league, he doesn't care, he continues to stand tall in the paint and do his best to have an effect on shots. Also, his ability to nail the outside shot improves his value as well. I'm not a big fan of how much they are paying Baynes at the moment ($7M) but all this means is that other teams were interested in him and the Raptors won the auction. The rest of the pickups could go either way, so I'll just save the reader some time and go through them quickly. Both of them will be playing this upcoming season for less than $3M, so on the salary side, that is good news. Len brings a shot-blocking presence to the paint with the talent to be able to score on the offensive end as well, and sometimes from range. Bembry is more of a slasher, only shooting 23.1% from three. He is a poor free throw shooter (59.2% throughout his career) and is just not much or a scorer (5.8 PPG/21.3 MPG).

I will be doing a separate article going through the Sixers' offseason moves and all Morey has done for the franchise. That article comes out next.


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