The NBA season begins on December 22. After an offseason in which we’ve seen contenders retool their rosters and star players change locations; this 2021 season could be one of the best ever. Here at No Limit Jumper, we’ve got you covered for the start of the season with our official 2021 NBA Season Preview. Join us as we take a look at each division and make predictions on how the 2021 season may shake out.
Next up: the Atlantic Division
- Last Season: 43-30 (4-4 in the bubble), 6th in East, 3rd in Atlantic Division
- Playoffs: 0-4, L First Round (vs BOS)
- Key Departures: HC Brett Brown (Fired), PF Al Horford (OKC), SG Josh Richardson (DAL), G Alec Burks (NYK)
- New Additions: President of Basketball Ops. Daryl Morey, HC Doc Rivers, AC’s Sam Cassells, David Joerger and Dan Burke, SG/SF Danny Green (Trade), F Terrance Ferguson (Trade), SG Seth Curry (Trade), G Tyrese Maxey (Draft), G Isaiah Joe (Draft), PF Paul Reed (Draft), C Dwight Howard (FA)
- Head Coach: Doc Rivers
The Sixers (although this is said far too often), may be looking to be a legitimate contender this year. Humiliated in the playoffs last year’s embarrassing playoff “run”, Philly cleaned house in the offseason. With a new coach, a real backup for Embiid, and the addition of 3 40% shooters, the Sixers have potential. However, one can never rule out injury scares on a team led by Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid.
In a worst-case scenario, the Sixers will fail to mesh, and Embiid and Simmons will be proven to be non-functional together. On the other end of things, they might reach as high as a second seed in this newly loaded Eastern Conference. The Sixers are deep, great on defense and now a highly above average shooting team. Expect a boom or bust type of season in Philadelphia. If things don’t work, expect big moves in the upcoming blockbuster offseason. Realistically, a 2-5 seed prediction is reasonable for Philly. I’ll go with 3, behind Milwaukee and a healthy Nets team.
- Last Season: 35-37 (5-3 in the bubble), 7th in East, 4th in Atlantic Division
- Playoffs: 0-4, L First Round (vs TOR)
- Key Departures: None!
- New Additions: HC Steve Nash, AC Ime Udoka, F Kevin Durant (healthy), SG Landry Shamet (trade), SG Bruce Brown (trade), G Elie Okobo (FA), G Tyler Johnson (FA)
- Head Coach: Steve Nash
The Nets are going to be scary good, barring injuries. Its funny how quickly people forget. Brooklyn was already a fringe playoff team last year, and now they will be throwing in two (when healthy) top ten players. Spencer Dinwiddie, Jarret Allen, Joe Harris, Caris Levert, Landry Shamet and more make up a terrific supporting cast. Steve Nash has stated that they will run a system similar to the Sun’s “seven seconds” offense. Hop on board while you can, because this is a title-caliber squad.
In a best case scenario, the Nets are dominant, snag the one seed and run the table in Kyrie and KD’s first full year together. In a worst case scenario, they implode and fail to mesh under a first- time coach. I think that realistically, they will fall under the same category as Philadelphia. If things go right for them, they are as dangerous and loaded as any other squad. Expect a finish in second or third in the conference, followed by at least a two series playoff run.
- Last Season: 48-24 (5-3 in the bubble), 3rd in East, 2nd in Atlantic Division
- Playoffs: 10-7, L East Finals (vs MIA)
- Key Departures: C Enes Kanter (POR), F Gordon Hayward (CHA)
- New Additions: F Aaron Nesmith (Draft), F/C Tristan Thompson (FA), PG Jeff Teague (FA), G Peyton Pritchard (Draft)
- Head Coach: Brad Stevens
The Celtics are an interesting squad this season. Many expect them to fall back due to key losses including Hayward and Kanter, along with an injury to all star point guard Kemba Walker. However, with Brad Stevens at the wheel and with the core they have, the Celtics can not be counted out. Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown will need to step up for the C’s to keep contending, but all signs from the past few years indicate their upward trends will continue.
The Celtics may start out a bit rocky, perhaps playing like a 4-7th seed while learning to cover for their losses and work with new talent. However, this team is still super talented on both sides of the court, and Tristan Thompson and Aaron Nesmith should make up at least a bit for losses at the center and wing positions. The Celtics, once fully healthy and gelled together, will win at least one playoff series. From then on, its anybody’s game.
- Last Season: 53-19 (7-1 in the bubble), 2nd in East, 1st in Atlantic Division
- Playoffs: 7-4, L East Semi-Finals (vs BOS)
- Key Departures: F/C Serge Ibaka (LAC), C Marc Gasol (LAL)
- New Additions: C Aron Baynes (FA), G Malachi Flynn (Draft)
- Head Coach: Nick Nurse
The Raptors suffered critical losses this offseason. However, they drafted NBA ready guard Malachi Flynn, and signed terribly underrated center Aron Baynes. The Raptors are still the best coached squad in basketball. They still have two all stars in Kyle Lowry and Pascal Siakam. OG Anunoby looks to be blossoming into one of the league’s best 3-And-D wings. Don’t count these guys out, because they play hard defense and team basketball as well as anybody in the league.
Realistically, the loss of Ibaka will hurt this squad tremendously in terms of spacing and defensive interior presence. Toronto will, as always, be competitive, but I expect them to take a big step back this year. I’m not sure if OG and Pascal can step up again, and Kyle Lowry is getting old. This is still a 40-45 win team in a 72 game season, but not quite a title contender due to lack of depth and firepower. Anywhere from as high as a second seed to as low as an eighth may be reasonable to predict for this year’s Raptors.
New York Knicks
- Last Season: 21-45, 12th in East, 5th in Atlantic Division
- Playoffs: LOL
- Key Departures: C Taj Gibson (ha!)
- New Additions: HC Tom Thibodeau, PG Austin Rivers (FA), PG Immanuel Quickley (Draft), F Obi Toppin (Draft), C Nerlens Noel (FA), G Myles Powell (UDFA), SF Alec Burks (FA)
- Head Coach: Tom Thibodeau
The Knicks made a bunch of great role player signings and drafted a few more NBA ready players fit for an immediate contender. However, the Knicks are not a contender. The Knicks are not even a fringe playoff team. The Knicks are a joke. Hopefully, guys like RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson and Kevin Knox take their games to the next level. Tom Thibodeau, however, has been known for stunting the growth of promising young players, by either not properly utilizing or overplaying them. Regardless of whether or not that happens, the Knicks will not come close to touching the playoffs in this year’s hypercompetitive Eastern Conference.
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