We may only be about 10 games into the 2016-17 NBA season, however, it is a sample size more than sufficient enough to reveal the true colors of these teams and the future that lies ahead of them. As we progress further into the six-month gauntlet that is the NBA regular season, here are the best- and worst-kept secrets for every franchise -- starting with the Atlantic Division today and running all week.
Toronto Raptors, 7-2
Best-kept secret: DeMar DeRozan … might actually be worth that behemoth contract he received this offseason? The only thing more unbelievable than the amount of money he got ($137 million over five years) may be that he is the first player to average 34 points per game through a team's first seven games since Michael Jordan in 1989-90.
Worst-kept secret: There’s not a single tradeable asset on the roster to help this team defeat the goliath Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs.
Justin Ford-USA TODAY SportsJustin Ford
Boston Celtics, 5-4
Best-kept secret: The Celtics are one of the best shooting teams in the league. Their 46.5 percent clip isn’t because Danny Ainge enjoys long walks on the beach, pulpless orange juice and stacking his entire depth chart with shooting guards – it’s because these guys are always open when they shoot. It’s truly remarkable to watch. No other roster in the league will make you scream “WHY IS NOBODY GUARDING HIM!?” when playing your favorite team like the Celtics. Credit Brad Stevens, who is always one step ahead, putting his overachieving players in the best position to succeed at all times.
Worst-kept secret: Their guard/swingman situation is out of hand. Between Isaiah Thomas, Marcus Smart, Avery Bradley, Terry Rozier, James Young, Jaylen Brown and Gerald Green –- there are simply too many chefs in the kitchen. Having too much depth is never a bad thing, but, when the Celtics are sitting on a mountain of assets as if it’s a jar of coins – and they refuse to put into the Coinstar machine at the grocery store because they can’t get over the fact they’re going to have to pay 11 percent just to upgrade – it is indeed a problem. You can’t play seven shooting guards at once – and until the Celtics realize this, their assets will remain potential and nothing more.
Getty ImagesMaddie Meyer
Brooklyn Nets, 4-5
Best-kept secret: Sean Kilpatrick might be the best thing that’s happened to the Brooklyn Nets since, well, since they moved to Brooklyn. His 15.9 PER, .572 true shooting percentage and 15.8 points per game all rank amongs the teams best. Most important: Kilpatrick makes a measly $980,431 this year with a relatively similar team option available next season. The Nets are not in a position to say no to any trade offers, but, Kilpatrick is certainly as close as it gets to untradeable.
Worst-kept secret: They don’t have a draft pick until the 22nd century and no assets (maybe other than Jeremy Lin) to change that.
Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY SportsChris Humphreys
New York Knicks, 3-6
Best-kept secret: Brandon Jennings might actually … have significant trade value? Jennings is currently making a paltry $5 million under a one-year contract that expires at the end of the season, and if the Knicks fall out of contention at any point he might be the most attractive, obtainable player available at the February deadline. Jennings, despite some advanced analytics saying otherwise, has been the Knicks’ savior when the “Super Team” starting five heads to the bench – and without a doubt can carry the offense of a legitimate contender, in need of a backup point guard, in the same bench role. (Hello, Cleveland Cavaliers.)
Worst-kept secret: Lance Thomas’ surprisingly awesome 2015-16 campaign was rewarded with a $27 million contract. All he’s done since signing it is a produce one of the league’s least efficient individual ratings (4.7) in 17.5 minutes played per game.
Steve MitchellSteve Mitchell-USA TODAY Sports
Philadelphia 76ers, 1-8
Best-kept secret: Oh, where to start. 1) They are unintentionally intentionally tanking again. 2) They are very likely going to get the Lakers’ pick this summer (Top 3 protected) and will own 40 percent of the top five picks in the 2017 draft. 3) Joel Embiid might be the second-coming of Hakeem Olajuwon, and I’m only half-kidding. 4) Sam Hinkie’s “Process” has made him into a martyr and can return to his throne atop the 76ers basketball operations department. 5) Dario Saric might be the best rookie from the 2016 class not named Joel Embiid.
Worst-kept secret: By the time all of these assets and super-potential draft picks finally take the floor at the same time, their rookie contracts are going to expire, and they’re all going to need to get paid. The Sixers are not paying three centers, thus, two of which will likely be traded for more draft picks. "The Process," subsequently, will start all over again.