2022 NBA Atlantic Division Preview

Story posted October 17, 2022 in CommRadio, Sports by Nolan Collery

The NBA tips off on Wednesday, so it’s time to preview what will arguably be the league's best division, the Atlantic.

The Knicks are a franchise that seemingly makes the worst possible decisions — owner James Dolan has done it all. However, there is finally some hope in New York.

Acquiring Jalen Brunson after a breakout year is great, as he should be a perfect partner to budding star RJ Barrett, and create a more open offense that doesn’t need to rely on inefficient Julius Randle post-ups.

The Knicks have two of the most underrated defensive bigs in the league with Mitchell Robinson and Isaiah Hartenstein. Other depth pieces such as Quentin Grimes, Immanuel Quickley and Obi Toppin should make a fun team to watch that will be fighting for a low playoff seed.

The Raptors are in a weird period of existence. This roster is incredibly deep, but lacks the top-end talent to feel like a real contender. A lot of pressure is going to be placed on reigning Rookie of the Year Scottie Barnes.

Fred VanVleet will continue to run a smooth offense that loves to play out on the wings. Many may look at the lack of size as an issue, but I expect a massive breakout season from backup center Precious Achiuwa.

The main draw of this team is its versatility on the defensive end. One player to look out for is the ever under-rated O.G. Anunoby. He is going to be guarding opponents' best players on a nightly basis, while still being a flamethrower from three.

This is a team designed for regular season success, and I am excited to see what adjustments head coach Nick Nurse makes come playoff time to make his squad competitive.

The 76ers are going to be really good. However, there is something about this team that just irks me the wrong way.

Joel Embiid is likely going to be a top three MVP finisher again. Tyrese Maxey is one of my favorite young players in the entire league. An older James Harden is still a really valuable player.

That being said, I have grown weary watching the same movie come playoff time. This team always looks like a sleeping giant, awaiting their moment to wake up and win.

Well, that window becomes smaller every year, as the Eastern Conference grows deeper. Philly feels like it has a lot to prove this year, and I want to see them take that big step.

Speaking of teams that need to take a big step, the Brooklyn Nets have a whole lot to prove.

Let me preface this by saying I am a huge Nets fan, and have been since the Brook Lopez era.

I think that this is the Nets’ last chance with Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving. This roster is too talented, too star-studded and too well-built to be swept in the first round of the playoffs. I do not care that the Celtics went to the Finals last year, there is no excuse.

Durant led one of the most drama-filled offseasons in recent history. Now that he and Irving are finally settled in and the roster is set, it is time to stop messing around.

Negativity aside, this team has such a high ceiling. Even with the clear issues around player health, the top-end talent and veteran depth screams “playoff team.” I am biased, and have the Nets as my pick for the champions of the East, but I am fully ready to be disappointed.

What is there to say about the Celtics that hasn’t been said. Incredibly well built, defensive minded, playoff level roster.

Jayson Tatum is my early sneaky MVP pick. Jaylen Brown should be an All-Star. The point guard issue has been solved with the perfect Tatum complement in Malcom Brogdon. Robert Williams’ injury is being handled well, and he should become available later in the season.

The offseason drama revolving around Ime Udoka should be a major problem, however, this roster is just too talented to slip away. I suspect another deep playoff run from the C’s.

The Atlantic is an incredibly deep division, and I would not be surprised if come playoff time, all five rosters have an invite to the dance.

Nolan Collery is a first-year student majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email njc5848@psu.edu.