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The season is starting next week! You may have already drafted your fantasy team or you may still be drafting this weekend.  Either way, we only have four more days to kill before there's real basketball.

To pass the time, we'll be running through the different divisions in the NBA with high level overviews of all 30 NBA teams and the fantasy value coming out of those teams. This is the one chance for the divisions in the NBA to actually be relevant for anything, and a nice refresher course about what they're called and who's in them, which are facts so irrelevant to the outcome of the NBA season that even die-hard NBA junkies start to forget them.

First off we'll be looking at the Atlantic Division in the NBA's Eastern Conference, which has recently been known for the Celtics and the Raptors at the top followed by a steep drop off and a whole lot of tanking and bad fantasy options. Will that change this season?

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2017 Fantasy Basketball Preview: NBA Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics

The Celtics were statistically the best team in the Eastern Conference last season. With an overall record of 53-29, Boston narrowly captured the number one overall seed in the playoffs over the powerhouse Cleveland Cavaliers. The Celtics also had some of the most legit fantasy options last season with the same holding true entering the 2017-2018 campaign.

The Celtics are loaded from top to bottom and have acquired some key fantasy figures, namely former Utah Jazz forward Gordon Hayward and former Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving. Hayward was a bona fide fantasy star last season, but did miss some time with a finger injury. If he stays healthy, especially in the Eastern Conference, he should exceed his averages of 21 points and five boards per game. In Irving’s case, he now holds (or at least shares) the keys to the castle. He will have the opportunity to increase his production but will also be negatively impacted now that he isn’t playing with LeBron James, who is often the focal point of opposing defenses, leaving Irving with less breathing room this season.

Al Horford will continue to start in the middle but as his age advances, his production has decreased as the 14 points and six boards per game were his worst numbers since his first few years in the league. Another new addition, Marcus Morris will see time at the four spot in place of the departed Kelly Olynyk. Morris, who was acquired from the Detroit Pistons this offseason, has had his preseason clouded with legal issues stemming from an incident in which a man claimed that he was assaulted back in 2015 by him and his twin brother, Washington Wizards power forward Markieff Morris.

With shooting guard Avery Bradley out of the picture, the door has opened up for Jaylen Brown to step in as a starter. Brown should easily exceed the six points and 17 minutes that he saw in his rookie season. The defensively sound Marcus Smart adds versatility and has had spurts of efficiency throughout the years. Rookie Jayson Tatum, who was drafted third overall at the draft this past offseason, will see some minutes of the bench. However, without seeing him play in an actual game, there is risk associated with selecting him, especially too early. Overall, Boston is a favorite, if not the favorite to win the East. One thing is for sure--they have plenty of fantasy options to choose from.

Toronto Raptors

Like the Cavaliers, the Raptors also narrowly missed out on claiming the number one overall seed in the East. Toronto was one of the most efficient teams in the league and played relatively well all season despite being down point guard Kyle Lowry for a good portion of season due to a wrist injury. They made some waves midway through the 2016 campaign, acquiring power forward Serge Ibaka for next to nothing.

After losing to Cleveland in the second round, they went into the offseason with uncertainty. However, the team was able resign both Lowry and Ibaka over the summer, leaving their core group intact. Moving ahead, the team is still loaded with efficient options for those partaking in fantasy activities this upcoming season. DeMar DeRozan finished the season as a top 10 fantasy option, averaging 27 points and five boards per game. He will still play a bunch of minutes this season and is still the focal point in Dwane Casey’s offense.

Speaking of Casey, he has given the team the green light to shoot, and shoot some more, especially from beyond the arch. If he takes Casey up on it, DeRozan could be even more lethal than ever before. Lowry will still be effective as long as he stays healthy, and will fly off the draft boards early. Ibaka offers a diverse skill set, as he can score and play defense and has also tried his hand at improving his three-point shot. Center Jonas Valancuinas is always a threat for a double-double on any given night but has suffered from bouts of inconsistency (trust me, I know, I had him on my squad). C.J. Miles could see the best numbers of his career now that he is starting in wake of the departed DeMarre Carroll, who was shipped to Brooklyn.

The team is also full of young talent to compliment the handful of veterans. Power Forward Pascal Siakam, who was the D-League finals MVP with the Raptors 905 last season, will have an expanded role with the departure of big man Patrick Patterson. Point guards Delon Wright and Fred VanVleet will also see more minutes in place of Cory Joseph, who is now with Indiana. The same will hold true for center Jakob Poeltl, who was the team’s first round pick in 2016. Overall, the team is stacked with a mix of talent and will still compete, but won’t likely be as good as a season ago. However, the team has a plethora of fantasy talent just waiting to be drafted.

New York Knicks

When it comes to organizations that are run horribly, the Knicks take the cake. Unfortunately for New York fans, the only excitement they receive comes from off-the-court drama, as their on-court presentation over the recent years has been less than relevant. Coming into the 2016-2017 season, Phil Jackson was still at the helm and was responsible for several horrendous decisions. Joakim Noah, the once productive center from Chicago, was given an outrageous $72 million over four years despite missing a huge chunk of games towards the end of his run with the Bulls. Things haven’t gone well for Noah since his arrival as he would miss a significant amount of time due to rotator cuff surgery. From a fantasy standpoint, Noah offers little value as he has seen numbers plummet throughout the years. On top of that, he will miss the first 10 games of the season due to violating the league’s anti-drug policy.

Small forward Carmelo Anthony had routine spats will management throughout the Jackson administration and though Phil is no longer with the organization, Anthony found his way out as well and is now a member of the Thunder. Though his numbers have also fallen as his age has progressed, he is still a legit scoring option and still adds significant value to any fantasy squad. In exchange for Melo’, Enes Kanter arrived to man the middle. While with Oklahoma City, he averaged 14 points and six rebounds coming off the bench.

Shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr., who started his career as a Knick, signed with the team this offseason and is slated to start at the two. Hardaway saw his best numbers last year, averaging nearly 15 points per game. He was committed to improving range and has been letting them fly this preseason, going 12-for-29 from beyond the arch. It wouldn’t be unreasonable to think that he will take more shots and play more minutes than in previous years.

And of course Kristaps Porzingis is back and the new leader of the team. After skipping last season’s exit interview due to unhappiness with the organization and subsequently flirting with the idea of leaving the team, Porzingis remained. He has had his bouts with minor injuries but overall has been productive with the team, averaging 16 points, seven boards and two blocks during his time in the “Big Apple.”

The team is rounded out by Doug McDermott, the sharpshooter who has played for various teams, center Willy Hernangomez, who came on strong towards the end of the season and Ron Baker is currently projected to replace Derrick Rose at the point guard position...that is until rookie Frank Ntilikina possibly finds himself taking over as the season progresses.

Philadelphia 76ers

Moving on from the most depressing team in the league to one of the most exciting. There isn’t a team entering the season with more hype and buzz than the 76ers. After a not-so-promising 2016-2017 season, Philly is back and loaded with plenty of options to whet your fantasy appetite, especially if you are in a dynasty league. Joel Embiid, who is coming off knee surgery, is anticipated to be ready to go when the team starts the season on October 18th. In his “rookie” season, Embiid averaged 20 points, eight boards and nearly three blocks per game. However, his health has been a major downfall for the big man but if he can stay on the court this season, he could end the season as a top 15 fantasy option, maybe better.

Forward Ben Simmons, who missed last season with a foot ailment, has looked scary good during the preseason and is a favorite for rookie of the year. Speaking of rookie of the year favorites, Markelle Fultz has also looked good but needs to work on certain areas, notably his atrocious free throw shooting. However, he still possesses the skills necessary to put up some fantasy points for any team that drafts him. Power forward Dario Saric is slotted to come off the bench but could see hefty minutes and will also get plenty of production in.

J.J. Redick signed with the team during the offseason and is always a three-point threat while forward Robert Covington is back and ready to go. Jahlil Okafor, who was dangled as trade bait all of last season, will come off the bench behind Embiid but could see his minutes fall when Richaun Holmes comes back from a wrist injury. Philly is stacked and there are plenty of players to pick from. Though the may not make an immediate impact, they have long term fantasy value moving forward.

Brooklyn Nets

Unfortunately for New York fans, the Knicks aren’t the only crappy team around. The Brooklyn Nets were also horribly mismanaged over the past decade and have created a culture of ghastly, garbage basketball out of which the new regime has had to spend years digging out. However, within the team are some very efficient fantasy options to compliment any fantasy squad.

Timofey Mozgov came to town from Los Angeles but let’s be honest, nobody wants him on their fantasy team unless they are absolutely desperate or have no idea what they are doing. DeMarre Carroll falls in the same category, except he came from Toronto. D’Angelo Russell is the new guard on the block and appears motivated to produce, especially to those in the Lakers front office who doubted him. This preseason, Russell is averaging nearly 15 points per game. He could be a guy who surprises a lot of people this season.

The Nets also acquired the services of Allen Crabbe from Portland. Now that he is not trying to get shots away from Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum, his production should increase steadily. Jeremy Lin will produce, but with his age increasing and his tendency to get injured, his fantasy stock has taken a hit. Power forward Trevor Booker will grab the occasional double-double and youngsters Rondae Hollis-Jefferson, Caris LeVert, Sean Kilpatrick, Isaiah Whitehead and Spencer Dinwiddie will get sporadic production, but mostly when injuries are in play.

 

More 2017-18 Fantasy Basketball Analysis