Free Sports Picks and Information, Links Directory, Stats, Trends, matchups, Live Odds, and more from Valley Sports
Home | Members | Signup | Preferred Sportsbooks | Free Sports Picks | Free Football Picks | Free Basketball Picks | Free Baseball Picks

2006-07 NBA Atlantic Division Preview

By Drew Mangione of Doc's Sports Picks


Which division was worse last year: the Atlantic or the Northwest? It was a toss up. The Atlantic had the better top team, but at least the Northwest had two .500 teams. This year may not be much different. Expect only one team, the Nets, to win more games than they lose, but at least this time around there may be two playoff teams here.

New Jersey is again the only story. The franchise may be staying in the toxic swamps for a while, but I hope Jay-Z and Co. stay interested in winning. The worst thing for this franchise would be to move to Brooklyn in the next five years without being better than the Knicks. That seems far away, but if they trade Kidd and don't resign Carter, this team could go from contender to a 38-win division leader. In the meantime, why don't people fill the stands? Is quality basketball with high-flying theatrics not enough for the mullet-headed men and animal print-wearing women of North Jersey?

The Celtics are improving, but are still far from Danny Ainge's "promised land." Philadelphia fans had better relish the return of the Eagles in the NFL because the 76ers could lose its patriotic meaning and instead represent a loss total if the front office drops AI for anything less than another top five talent. The Raptors may be the third most promising team, and the best thing the Knicks have going for them is what Stephon Marbury does for the inner city. Remember 2003-04, when every team had a new coach?

Here's a breakdown of each team in the division:

2005 Record: 49-33 (1st Division, 3rd Conference)
2006 Title odds: 10/1
2006 Wins O/U: 46.5
2006 Wins Projection: Over
Key Additions: Eddie House, SG; Marcus Williams (r), PG; Josh Boone (r), F/C
Key Losses: Jacques Vaughn, PG
Outlook: The window of opportunity for the best backcourt/swingman combo in the NBA is closing. Vince Carter, who has learned how to play defense and now works well with others, is in the last year of his deal with a $16 million player option for next year. Jason Kidd is aging gracefully. The Nets have been looking for his heir apparent and believe they've found him in Marcus Williams. However, to win a championship, Williams and Jeff McInnis will have to cut Kidd's minutes and keep him fresh for the playoffs. Additionally, center Nenad Kristic must progress further for this team to even think about a trophy.
Bottom line: Winning the division is a lock and a No. 1 or No. 2 seed isn't out of the realm of possibility. New Jersey is one of four teams in the East legitimately capable of winning the title.

2005 Record: 38-44 (2nd Division, 9th Conference)
2006 Title odds: 130/1
2006 Wins O/U: 35.5
2006 Wins Projection: Under
Key Additions: Rodney Carney (r), SF
Key Losses: Lee Nailon, F
Outlook: The downward spiral will continue. Allen Iverson will be blamed again by the franchise brass and some loudmouths, while most fans will incessantly remind everyone that the "little two-guard that could" has carried the 76ers for almost a decade including a trip to the 2001 Finals. But alas, front office mismanagement has left the aging diminutive superstar with an inconsistent young highlight reel, an aging power forward who is afraid to play down low and limited role players. Seriously, they lost to Barcelona in an exhibition in Europe. Sad.
Bottom line: Allan Iverson alone equals 25 to 30 wins, but since he is alone, don't expect more than that. If they trade him, hello No. 1 pick!

2005 Record: 33-49 (3rd Division, 11th Conference)
2006 Title odds: 150/1
2006 Wins O/U: 35
2006 Wins Projection: Over
Key Additions: Sebastian Telfair, PG; Rajon Rondo (r), PG; Leon Powe (r), SF; Allen Ray (r), SG
Key Losses: Raef LaFrentz, F/C
Outlook: This team will be the surprise of the Atlantic, but the Nets might still be the only playoff team. This team will show signs late in the season, once the young talent takes control. Michael Olowokandi has been a failure everywhere, but now that no one wanted him, he's finally talking with some pride. If he comes on, the progression will be quicker, but this team can win with the highly underrated Paul Pierce, a go-to guy in the half court offense, and fresh legs to run. Delonte West can shoot, Telfair has flash, and the undrafted Allen Ray will earn a guaranteed contract at year's end. Theo Ratliff provides some veteran defensive leadership for a promising young frontline.
Bottom line: At worst, this team is headed down Knickerbocker lane, but at best, it's the next Chicago Bulls. Like a few years ago when Bill Cartwright got a raw deal, expect coach Doc Rivers to be fired after a slow start. Danny Ainge will step in to save his job and salvage the No. 8 seed.

2005 Record: 27-45 (4th Division, 12th Conference)
2006 Title odds: 110/1
2006 Wins O/U: 32.5
2006 Wins Projection: Under
Key Additions: T.J. Ford, PG; Rasho Nesterovic, C; Andrea Bargnani, (r), PF; Fred Jones, SG
Key Losses: Charlie Villanueva, PF; Mike James, PG; Antonio Davis, F/C
Outlook: The goal: run and gun, something head coach Sam Mitchell didn't do too much of as a player. The Raptors have fallen far from one shot short of the NBA Finals and change philosophies faster than upper middle class college kids. What do you do when a rookie plays well? Trade him and draft another guy at his position. Of course the break up of Villanueva and Chris Bosh is made easier by the pick up of T.J. Ford, who returned from a near career ending injury to quietly grow into a quality floor general.
Bottom line: Mitchell gets fired by season's end or shortly thereafter. This team isn't very good, but with Ford, Bosh and Bargnani, the pieces might be there.

2005 Record: 23-59 (5th Division, 15th Conference)
2006 Title odds: 300/1
2006 Wins O/U: 30.5
2006 Wins Projection: Under
Key Additions: Jared Jeffries, SF; Nikoloz Tskitishvilli, PF; Renaldo Balkman, (r), F
Key Losses: Maurice Taylor, F
Outlook: What if George Bush recognized all the mistakes he has made and before the close of his term made himself the top general in Iraq? He could talk to Isaiah Thomas to see how it feels. The one man who could handle this team in the long run got canned and now it's Stephon Marbury and a bunch of overrated players stockpiled at the same positions. The team already dropped Taylor and look for Steve Francis, Jalen and Malik Rose, and Quentin Richardson to be bought out if they can be, or traded if someone will take them and their inflated salaries.
Bottom line: A rare off-the-court gem and on-the-court jackass, Marbury will only make kids happy with things that matter-affordable sneakers and free haircuts-not wins. Donald Rumsfeld ends up taking over the team, with James Dolan saying at the press conference: "Eh, this guy botched the Iraq war less than Isaiah did our team. It can't get much worse. I give up."

(Odds and over under numbers courtesy of Pinnacle Sportsbook)

Complete List Of Articles

Bet at Wagerweb