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2016-17 Season Preview: Atlantic Division

Lang Whitaker

Lang Whitaker NBA.com

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Oct 12, 2016 1:01 PM ET

Don't look now, but the teams comprising the Division formerly known as "Atlantis" seem to be on the rise. Led by the Eastern Conference finalist Toronto Raptors and the improving Boston Celtics -- as well as the veteran-infused New York Knicks -- the Atlantic Division should send at least three teams to the playoffs this season.

DIVISION PREDICTION

  1. Toronto Raptors
     
  2. Boston Celtics
     
  3. New York Knicks
     
  4. Brooklyn Nets
     
  5. Philadelphia 76ers

Team On The Rise

Boston Celtics -- They won an impressive 48 games a year ago, and the stakes are even higher this season with the addition of Al Horford.

Team On The Decline

None? -- Feels odd to say, but considering how they finished a year ago, every team in the Atlantic Division should improve their showing from a season ago.

Top Player

Al Horford, Boston Celtics -- Carmelo Anthony remains one of the NBA's best offensive players, but Horford's two-way ability earns him the nod.

Player On The Rise

Jonas Valanciunas, Toronto Raptors -- The 24-year-old Toronto big man was playing some of the best basketball of his career before an ankle injury knocked him out most of the postseason. 

Top Coach

Brad Stevens, Boston Celtics -- In his three seasons in charge, Stevens' teams have gone from 25 to 40 to 48 wins, as he's built a culture capable of attracting top free agents.

Coach On The Hot Seat

Jeff Hornacek, New York Knicks (?) -- Yes, he hasn't even coached a game for the franchise, but no other coach faces the type of expectations, realistic or not, that Hornacek has to confront.

Top Rookie

Ben Simmons, Philadelphia 76ers -- The No. 1 overall pick displayed a well-rounded game before suffering a foot injury. Still, he should have plenty of chances to shine with the 76ers once he's healthy again.

Lang Whitaker has covered the NBA since 1998. You can e-mail him here or follow him on Twitter.

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