clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

NBA preview: Atlantic Division

Deseret News 1997-98 Prediction

1. New York Knicks

2. Miami Heat

3. Washington Wizards

4. Orlando Magic

5. New Jersey Nets

6. Philadelphia 76ers

7. Boston Celtics

New York Knicks

'96-97 Record: 57-25

Division finish: 2nd

Coach: Jeff Van Gundey, 3trd year.

1997 Top Draft Pick: None. Selected F. John Thomas of Minnesota in 1st round, but traded him to Celtics.

Key Additions: F. Chris Mills (from Boston).

Key Losses: None.

Strengths: Team defense. nicks opponents shot just .425 from the field last year, lowest in the NBA. Patrick Ewing is still one of the best centers in the game.

Concerns: Can the Knicks stay healthy enough to hbeat the Bulls and mount a championship run in the East?

Miami Heat

'96-97 Record: 61-21

Division finish: 1st

Coach: Pat Riley, 3rd year.

1997 Top Draft Pick: G Charles Smith, 6-4, New Mexico

Key Additions: G/F Todd Day (free agent from Boston), G Eric Murdock (free agent from Denver), F Terry Mills (free agent from Detroit), C Duane Causwell (trade from Sacramento).

Key Losses: G John Crotty (free agent signed with Portland).

Strengths: Tim Hardaway and Alonzo Mourning are perennial all-stars. Riley will make sure Jamal Mashburn is in the best shape of his career.

Concerns: Mourning will be out for 8-12 weeks due to left leg injury.

Washington Wizards '96-97 Record: 42-38

Division finish: 4th

Coach: Bernie Bickerstaff, 2nd year.

1997 Top Draft Pick: G God Shammgod, 6-0, Providence (2n

Key Additions: None

Key Losses: None

Strengths: Team had strong showing lat spring in playoff series against Bulls. Chris Webber and Juwan Howard are great talents and continue to improve.

Concerns: An identity crisis. How long will it take people to realize that the Wizards are nothing more thqn the old Bullets? Poor free throw shooting as a team may cost them close games.

New Jersey Nets

'96-97 Record: 25-56

Division finish: 5th

Coach: John Calipari, 2nd year

1997 Top Draft Pick: Traded picks F Tim thomas and g Anthony Parker to Philadelphia for draft rights to F Keith Van Horn of Utah (!st round, 2nd pick).

Key Additions: Van Horn, F Michael Cage (from Philadelphia), F Lucious Harris (from Philadelphia), F Don MacLean (from Philadelphia).

Key Losses: G Jim Jackson, C Eric Montross (both traded to Philadelphia).

Strengths: Van Horn, KIendall Gill, Kerry Kittles and Sam Cassell give the Nets a strong outside shooting team with the ability to dribble drive.

Concerns: Ex-Jazzman David Benoit is trying to get back into the flow after missing an entire season due to injury.

Orlando Magic

'96-97 Record: 45-37

Division finish: 3rd

Coach: Chuck Daly, 1st year

1997 Top Draft Pick: F Johnny Taylor, 6-7, Tennessee-Chattanooga (1st round, 17th overall).

Key Additions: G Derek Harper (from Dallas), F Ed O'Bannion (from Dallas), F Charles Outlaw (free agent from Clippers).

Key Losses: F Dennis Scott (traded to Dallas).

Strengths: G Anfernee Hardaway is one of the best young players in the league. Addition of Harper will allow Hardaway to play more shooting guard. Daly has a proven NBA track record.

Concerns: F Horace Grant has had chronic back problems.

Philadelphia 76ers '96-97 Record: 22-60

Division finish: 6th

Coach: Larry Brown, 1st year

1997 Top Draft Pick: Picked F Keith Van Horn, but traded him to Nets for 1st round picks F Tim Thomas of Vallanova (7th overall) and G Anthony Parker of Bradley (21st overall).

Key Additions: Thomas, Perker, G Jim Jackson (from New Jersey), C Eric Montross (from New Jersey), F Terry Cummings (free agent from Seattle).

Key Losses: F Michael Cage, F Lucious Harris, F Don MacLean (all traded to New Jersey).

Strengths: Brown has a penchant for making bad teams better in a hurry. He has plenty of young talent to work with, including G Allen Iverson, last year's rookie of the year.

Concerns: Coleman's attitude and work ethic are always a question. Iverson has a reputa;tion for being selfish. Can Brown make this mix of young talent somehow mesh?

Boston Centics '96-97 Record: 15-67

Division finish: 7th

Coach: Rick Pitino, 1st year

1997 Top Draft Pick: G Chauncey Billups, 6-3, Colorado (1st round, 3rd overall); G/F Ron Mercer, 6-7, Kentucky (1st round, 6th overall)

Key Additions: C Travis Knight (free agent from the Lakers), G Tyus Edney (free agent from Sacramento), F.C Andrew De Clerq (free agent from Golden State), F Tony Massenburg (free agent from New Jersey), F Walter McCarty (trade with New Yoir, F John Thomas (trade with New York), F Dontae' Jones (trade with New York).

Key Losses: G/F Rick Fox (free agent, signed with Lakers).

Strengths: Forward Antoine Walker is on his way to becoming an NBA star. Pitino has three players he coached at Kentucky.

Concerns: Celtics could double last year's win total and still have just 30 victories.