The Atlantic Division is filled with five teams that all have had major changes to their rosters. From a Kawhi-less Raptors, a defensively changed 76ers, two New York identity changes, and a Celtics unit with several questions surrounding them. Each team will present new challenges and could likely serve as the most interesting division in the Eastern Conference. Here are the Atlantic Division and five players that need to have solid seasons for their teams moving forward into the 2019-2020 season.

Carsen Edwards

The Boston Celtics used their first second-round pick of this summer’s draft on the point guard out of Purdue who gained national attention during the Boilermakers run to the Elite 8 this past March Madness. During the run, the 6’1 guard averaged 34.8 points per game. He gained national attention for his Stephen Curry like scoring run similar to Curry’s run with Davidson several years ago. Fast forward to the summer league where he averaged 19.4 points per game on 46.7 percent from downtown. He gave Cs fans much hope moving forward. Though he didn’t make either the first or second team for the summer league, he still impressed.

With the season starting soon. Edwards now is in a position to where he will likely be one of the first names of the bench for a slightly new look Celtics team. As the season develops. Edwards could quickly become the sixth man with the lack of true scoring that the Celtics bench will likely have depending on how head coach Brad Stevens decides to run his rotation.

Edwards will likely backup newly acquired Celtic Kemba Walker and will have to start the season splitting much of his time with Marcus Smart. Edwards will hold a clear advantage in scoring against Smart but Smart will draw the defensive edge. Edwards rookie year should see him get plenty of time to show his skills for the Celtics and at minimum he will quickly develop into a fan favorite in Boston.

Caris LeVert

Atlantic Division

Caris LeVert has a chance to develop his game in a masterful way from several different areas. Coming off a campaign where he was limited to 40 games last year due to a gruesome leg injury. LeVert will have a chance to learn and play one court from new teammates All-Star Kyrie Irving, recovering superstar Kevin Durant, and former All-NBA player DeAndre Jordan.

On the court, Irving could help develop LeVert’s scoring ability by helping LeVert add new tricks to his bag. Durant could play a very similar role in the background by sharing his tricks as well. Scoring has steadily been the area of improvement for LeVert since starting his career in 2016. In 40 games of play last year, LeVert averaged 13.7 points per game. Has gone up in his scoring averages every year. In his first 14 games, before his injury derailed over half his season. LeVert scored 15 or more points in 10 of his 14 games last year including seven 20+ points or more performances. The hot start was on its way to continue to get noticed by the league. It could be an early watching point this season.

On the defensive end, Jordan could play a role along with Jarrett Allen in helping the Nets gain a stronger defensive identity. The Nets sat at 15th in team defensive rating at 109. But sat at the near bottom of the league in team steals and blocks average per game. Jordan and Allen could both prove to help the 6’7 forward in different areas. But only time will tell moving forward.

LeVert could likely have a breakout season as one of the Nets top three players with Durant sidelined due to his Achilles injury.

Allonzo Trier

Atlantic Division

With much of the attention for the Knicks going to Kyrie Irving, Kevin Durant, Kawhi Leonard and every player the Knicks got this offseason… wait something wrong? Okay, jokes on the Knicks fans. But with the real attention going to rookie RJ Barrett, Mitchell Robinson, and Dennis Smith Jr. the odd man out may just be Allonzo Trier.

Trier quietly enjoyed a solid rookie year after going undrafted by the Knicks before working his way through the G-League system for Knicks. In his rookie year, Trier averaged 10.9 points while appearing in 64 games for the franchise. He scored a career-high 31 points against the Rockets in a game in January. He shot 39.4 percent from three coming extremely close to the 40 percent range.

The Knicks will have many questions to answer moving forward with a team fully of small contracts and much hope. The direction is unclear for the Knicks, but Trier could continue his quiet improvement in the city of bright lights. The plus side is he will have a full season to play for the Knicks. In a franchise that will do much experimenting with lineups throughout the year. The other is the high percentage of threes he knocked down through 64 games as that number could look to improve.

The sample size is still extremely small as during the summer league. Trier played only one game and scored 21 points on 57 percent from the field. Showing much versatility in his scoring ability from the floor.

Now the shift will focus on what the Knicks plan on doing with their guards and forwards. As many of their players including Smith Jr., Barrett, and Frank Ntilikina could play multiple positions. If Trier gets his chance, look for a much improved second season in the league for him.

Josh Richardson

Atlantic Division

One of the quietest returns of the summer through any trade or free-agent signing was the addition of Josh Richardson to the 76ers in a trade that gave the Miami Heat Jimmy Butler. The trade could prove to be a massive return for the 76ers if Richardson’s development continues at a strong pace.

The 76ers identity will likely come from a strong defensive presence with players such as stars as Ben Simmons and Joel Embiid. The newly acquired Al Horford will fit right into that role as well. For Richardson, he will be able to bring a scoring option for the 76ers on the perimeter who has steadily improved his scoring over the last four years.

In 73 games with the Heat last year, Richardson was able to average 16.6 points which led the Heat in scoring. Place him on the 76ers, he would sit in fourth place in scoring right behind Embiid, Tobias Harris, and Simmons.

The likelihood is that his scoring pace will increase as he added on a more polished scoring attack. From his campaign in 17-18 when he averaged 12.9 compared to his average last year. If his three-point shooting increases( he knocked 35% on close to seven attempts per game) back to his percentage near 38% clip from the 17-18 run. The 76ers could benefit even greater.

Look for Richardson to play a huge piece in a long season run for the 76ers.

Pascal Siakam

Atlantic Division

Pascal Siakam’s jump to being a star in the league could very well make the major leap this year. Toronto is coming off a championship season. Though they may not repeat, the start of the team’s latest direction may lie within Siakam.

Siakam enjoyed his most productive year yet last year. In which the forward averaged 16.9 points, 6.9 rebounds, and 3.1 assists. While on his way to picking up the NBA’s Most Improved Award and an NBA Championship to cap it. He also improved on his overall efficiency from the floor(54% from the field) and from deep(36% from three).

His greatest improvement and potential could come on the defensive end. Siakam ranked 11th in the league in defensive win shares at 0.135. He had one of the highest individual defensive ratings at 104.2. His length could quickly come in as a factor as he stands at 6’9 with a 7’3 wingspan. He has yet to have a season in which he averaged a full block or steal per game in the league.

With Kawhi’s departure as well as several other names that were selected as All-Stars in the Eastern Conference. Siakam could enjoy his first campaign as an All-Star. The lights will shine directly on Siakam as the Raptors will look for their fresh start. A rundown of the Atlantic Division five players you should remember going into the 2019-2020 season.

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Errol Chandler

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