NBA Draft

2018 NBA Draft: What to expect from the Atlantic Division on draft night

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Raptors president Masai Ujiri (Getty Images)

In the 2017-18 season, the top three seeds in the Eastern Conference all hailed from the Atlantic Division.

The Raptors (59-23) finished first after having the best season in franchise history, while the Celtics (55-27) and 76ers (52-30) established themselves as the teams of the future by riding their young cores to successful years.

The Knicks (29-53) and Nets (28-54) both had more downs than ups this past season, but they have young talent and assets to continue to build for better futures.

Here's what to watch for from each Atlantic Division team on draft night...

Boston Celtics

Picks: 27

After being major players the past two offseasons, the Celtics can never be counted out as far as big offseason splashes are concerned, beginning on draft night.

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Initially, there was speculation the team would look to trade into the lottery to select Texas centre Mo Bamba. The Celtics are now mentioned as a possible destination for Spurs forward Kawhi Leonard, per ESPN's Adrian Wojnarowski.

Despite what Boston has done in years past, it is more likely that the team will use this offseason to make smaller moves as the team anticipates the return of Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward from injury. Look for the C's to use their lone pick to bring in a player like Cincinnati's Jacob Evans or Duke's Grayson Allen to contribute right away.

Brooklyn Nets

Picks: 29, 40, 45

Despite not having a lottery pick in this year's draft, the Nets have already been very active. The team has reportedly agreed to send centre Timofey Mozgov and two future second-round picks to the Hornets for eight-time All-Star Dwight Howard.

General manager Sean Marks has very steadily built for the future during his tenure in Brooklyn and can make yet another step in the right direction on draft night. The Nets can bring in a talented prospect with potential using the 29th pick they acquired from the Raptors last summer.

Pairing a first-rounder with Jarrett Allen (20), D'Angelo Russell (22), Rondae Hollis-Jefferson (23) and Caris LeVert (23) makes Brooklyn a competitive young team moving forward.

New York Knicks

Picks: 9, 36

Trae Young? Mikal Bridges? Kevin Knox? The Knicks have been linked to these three prospects much more than many others leading up to the draft. With head coach David Fizdale at the helm, the team is in the process of developing a new identity to return to playoff contention sooner rather than later.

New York will select ninth after missing the playoffs for the fifth consecutive season. The Knicks will use their selection to continue to build a young core led by Kristaps Porzingis (22) and Frank Ntilikina (19).

Young (19) provides shooting and scoring and is an intriguing pairing in the backcourt with Ntilikina, while Bridges (21) uses his length and athleticism to his advantage on both ends of the floor. Knox has yet to turn 19 and possesses a unique combination of size and skill.

Don't sleep on the 36th pick, either. Teams have proven to get value with early second-rounders in recent years.

Philadelphia 76ers

Picks: 10, 26, 38, 39, 56, 60

It's been an interesting offseason for the Sixers, who have the most picks of any team in this year's draft. Philadelphia's assets put the team in a position to create a package to move up in the draft; Sports Illustrated's Jake Fischer reported the team's interest in trading up into the top five.

While the Sixers should be active in major trade talks, there is a much higher likelihood of the team making a few minor moves. Philadelphia can use the 10th pick to bring in an immediate contributor and still be in contention to sign a free agent to a max contract.

Toronto Raptors

Picks: None

The Raptors are one of two teams without a selection in this year's draft, but the team could potentially look to change that.

Marc Stein of The New York Times reported that the Raptors were actively seeking a trade to move into the top 10 with their sights set on Kentucky guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander. While the likelihood of Toronto putting together a desirable package for a top pick is low, its preliminary interest and willingness to deal anyone is worth noting.

According to TSN's Josh Lewenberg, Norman Powell could be on the move. Look for Toronto to be mentioned in a number of trade conversations throughout draft night. At the very least, a trade to move back into the draft should be expected.

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