Midseason NBA Team Grades: Atlantic Division
Around the NBA, there is a lot of intrigue surrounding teams and their players as All-Star weekend has begun. There has been plenty of drama with the Knicks, Bulls, Cavaliers, and of course, between Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant.
The Atlantic division is probably the most interesting group of teams in the Eastern Conference. At the top there are two teams that have a legitimate chance at reaching the NBA finals, while the other three teams have been more than interesting, despite their mediocre records.
Here are the team’s grades for what they have done so far this season. Record, drama, and general direction will be taken into account in order to determine their letter grade.
Boston Celtics: 37–20 (1st)
The Celtics have dealt with a substantial amount of injuries in the first half of the season. Only having a full roster for 23 games, Boston has managed to hold the #2 seed in the East, thanks to the efforts of their young players. The Celtics are 19–14 without at least one starter.
Due to their success without veterans like Avery Bradley and Al Horford, Boston will become one of the deepest teams in the NBA when their young players return to the second unit. This depth will give them a real chance at representing the East in the NBA finals.
Boston’s rebounding issues have plagued them at points, so it will be interesting to see if Danny Ainge makes a trade for a big man at the deadline.
Toronto Raptors: 33–24 (2nd)
The Raptors started the season strong, posting a 22–10 record entering January. Toronto experienced struggles once Demar Derozan went down with an injury, and finished out 11–14 through the final two months before the break. The fact that Toronto struggled so mightily without one of their best players shows how weak their bench is.
I do give credit to the Raptors in dealing for Serge Ibaka. Ibaka will easily fit in with the Raptors to give them a legitimate third option. However, their bench got even thinner, as they shipped off key reserve Terrence Ross in the Ibaka deal.
It will be interesting to see how the Raptors close out the season, but they get a good grade for making a trade in attempt to break a streak of inconsistent play.
New York Knicks: 23–34 (3rd)
The Knicks have been a laughing stock this season thanks to Phil Jackson’s mishandling of the Carmelo Anthony situation, and owner James Dolan’s stupidity in dealing with Charles Oakley. I’m honestly surprised they have won 23 games so far, because a team with that amount of drama will have a hard time focusing on winning games.
The Knicks need a complete overhaul throughout the organization. The wrong people (Anthony, Oakley, Knicks fans) are suffering because of the incompetency of the Knicks’ front office. An “F” is the lowest possible grade but they deserve worse.
If future star Kristaps Porzingis starts to suffer from the turmoil, that’s the only way this situation could get more toxic.
Philadelphia 76ers: 21–35 (4th)
The Sixers were the feel god story of the NBA after having a great January. Joel Embiid was playing well, and the Sixers had the top defense in the league when he was on the court.
However, February has come with a large amount of pettiness from the Sixers’ front office. Bryan Colangelo has not been transparent with the fans regarding the injuries of star players Ben Simmons and Embiid. Fans of the team are growing increasingly tired of the front office telling them their stars are “close” to coming back, even though they’re weeks away from returning.
The Jahlil Okafor situation reinforces Colangelo’s stupidity as a GM. Not having a player travel with the team for one game so you can drive up his trade value is low. “Trust the Process” is probably done at this point. Sixers fans would be lucky if they can trust their own front office reps.
Brooklyn Nets: 9–47 (5th)
Oh the Nets. The poor, poor Nets. The only reason their grade isn’t an “F” is because they haven’t fired head coach Kenny Atkinson. Atkinson will be a fine coach in the league once he gets a real NBA roster to shape.
However, the Nets don’t have much of a direction right now. They have a first round pick this year, but it belongs to the Celtics, who are on a roll and will have their full roster back after the break. Brooklyn has the worst record in the NBA by a wide margin, and I’m not sure if it’s going to get much better from here.
All the Nets want to do at this point is fast forward to the summer of 2019, where they can finally use a top 3 pick that is their own.