- Gus Saltonstall
Combined Starting 5 for the Atlantic Division
New NBA seasons always come with countless storylines, but there is no more prevalent talking point currently than how well the Brooklyn Nets are playing. At the time of this article, the team has stomped the Golden State Warriors and Boston Celtics, and the combination of Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving looks downright unstoppable.
In a similar way to Kawhi Leonard’s reemergence in Toronto after missing more than a year of games, people seemed to forget how good Durant is — raising up over centers for hesi-threes, handling the ball, swatting shots, and looking 100 percent healthy.
Irving is also hooping to start off the season, but the Nets success extends far past its two stars. Brooklyn’s bench squad could probably be the 7th seed in the East, and the play of Caris LeVert, Jarrett Allen, and Landry Shamet, has been excellent.
What makes the Nets even more interesting is that the squad plays in what’s most likely the best division in the NBA. The Southwest Division in the Western Conference also has a very legitimate claim on this distinction, but the talent in the Atlantic Division is immense.
The Nets, Boston Celtics, Philadelphia 76ers and Toronto Raptors are all teams that can legitimately make a Conference Finals.
The New York Knicks, not so much...
So what does it look like if we were to pick a combined starting five and three bench players for all the teams in the Atlantic Division? How many Nets players would make the team?
The team will be chosen solely off how well the players are performing right now and won’t include injured people — which is really just Kemba Walker.
Here’s the selection:
Point Guard: Kyrie Iriving — Through two games: 31.5 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists
Shooting Guard: Jayson Tatum — Through two games: 25 points, 7.5 rebounds, 2 assists
Small Forward: Pascal Siakam — Through two games: 18 points, 10.5 rebounds, 7 assists
Power Forward: Kevin Durant — Through two games: 25.5 points, 4.5 rebounds, 3 assists
Center: Joel Embiid — Through two games: 28 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists
6th Man: Ben Simmons — Through two games: 15.5 points, 9 rebounds, 6.5 assists
7th Man: Jaylen Brown — Through two games: 30 points, 6.5 rebounds, 3.5 assists
8th Man: Kyle Lowry — Through two games: 17 points, 0.5 rebounds, 10 assists
The toughest choice of the eight was Siakam vs. Simmons, but despite the Toronto star’s poor play in the bubble — Siakam can just do more than Simmons on the offensive end. Combine that with the fact that Siakam has looked superb through two games, and the slight edge goes to the man out of Cameroon.
Additionally, I’m not sure if Kemba Walker makes this starting eight, even if he’s healthy. Lowry bullied the Uconn product in the bubble playoff matchup between Toronto and Boston, and Brown has raised his level to kick off the season.
But easily the most fun game to play in this is how many spots would you have to fill up before a Knicks player made the list?
RJ Barrett as 23?