NBA Division Preview: Southeast Preview
1. Miami Heat – Odds +150
After losing Chris Bosh to medical issues last season, the Heat lost their best player and sunk down the standings and finished a disappointing tenth. With a healthy Bosh and the addition of Goran Dragic at last year’s trade deadline and the emergence of Hassan Whiteside as an elite center, the Heat have talent all over the court. The health of Dwayne Wade will be vital to the team’s success – as he enters the season at the age of 33 – and if he cannot stay healthy the team’s only other true option at point guard is Mario Chalmers lacks the playmaking ability of Wade.
2. Washington Wizards – Odds +225
The best player in the division and a potential MVP candidate – point guard John Wall – continues to improve each season and was light outs in the playoffs last year. The Wizards lost veteran Paul Pierce – who played a large part in Washington’s dismantling of the Toronto Raptors in the playoffs last season – and did not make any large splashes in free agency this season outside of signing Jared Dudley who will contributor mainly on the offensive side of the ball. The Wizards have exceptional defense and their best two players – Wall and Bradley Beal – are both still young and getting better each season.
3. Atlanta Hawks – Odds +188
The Hawks surprised almost everyone last season with 60 wins – tops among Eastern conference teams – and managed their way to the conference finals where they lost to the Cleveland Cavaliers. The Hawks bring back much of their roster this season, but lost one of their longest contributors in Demarre Carroll who signed with the Toronto Raptors. The Hawks are still definitely a playoff calibre team, but do not seem to have the type of roster capable of running the table in the competitive Southeast division for a second straight season.
4. Charlotte Hornets – Odds +2500
The Hornets suffered through injuries and the ill-fated signing of Lance Stephson – who is now a Los Angeles Clipper – last season and regressed out of the playoffs. The Hornets offseason was busy, but lacking direction and filled with too many trades for little gain. The Hornets look like a team going back to the rebuilding process, but may be able to squeak into a very low-seed playoff spot if injuries are low and players exceed expectations.
5. Orlando Magic – Odds +6600
The Magic are young and slowly rebuilding, but the lack of a true All-Star keeps them at the bottom of the Southeast conference for a fourth straight season. Victor Oladipo, Shabazz Napier and Tobias Harris – all under 25 – should continue to develop chemistry and help carry the Magic to a few more wins than their lowly 25 last season. Still the team looks like a work and progress and the division is too deep for the Magic to have any realistic shot the title.
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