With the NBA Season is less than 24 hours away from opening up in Toronto, it’s time to make my final season predictions for each division. So in this edition, let’s preview the Southeast Division.
This division is headlined a team looking to make the playoffs for the second year in a row, a team adding a motivated all-star, a team with an exciting young group of talent, one team looking to survive without it’s all-star point guard and team that is rebuilding.
How Will They Finish?
- Orlando Magic (46-36)
- Miami Heat (44-38)
- Atlanta Hawks (37-45)
- Washington Wizards (25-57)
- Charlotte Hornets (21-61)
Orlando brought back 12 players from last season division championship winning team. Nikola Vucevic became an all-star and Terrence Ross turned into an elite sixth-man. Now add those 2 with the potential of Jonathan Issac, Mohammed Bamba and Aaron Gordon and the Magic have a team that will make the playoffs once again in the Eastern Conference. Now if Markelle Fultz can live up to his potential and his draft status, the Magic will be a team no one wants to play in the playoffs.
Miami added it’s star in Jimmy Butler and they could a dark horse team in the standings. But they will need to have another big season from Justise Winslow and Bam Adabayo in order for that to happen. They have some solid veterans (Goran Dragic, Kelly Olinkyk and Dion Waiters) and a sharpshooting rookie (Tyler Herro), now Head Coach Erik Spolestra has to turn this into a playoff team.
Atlanta will be one of the most entertaining teams in the NBA this season. They hit all of the exciting checkmarks:
- An sharpshooting point guard with outstanding courtvision and unlimited range (Trae Young)
- An big man who can run the floor and finish at the rim (John Collins)
- A group of talened youngsters ready to prove themselves (Cam Reddish, DeAndre Hunter, Kevin Hueter and DeAndre Bembry)
- A group of veterans looking to show they still can play (Jabari Parker and Evan Turner)
- And a coach who likes to run up an down (Lloyd Pierce)
Now can the Hawks be able to soar up the standings is the major question.Young and Collins haven’t proven to be closers in their careers to this point and until they can prove that, this group is one year away from being able to cause serious damage in the Eastern Conference.
Washington’s all-star point guard John Wall will miss all of this season as he recovers from both Achilles and ACL injuries suffered last season. Even though all-star Bradley Beal re-signed for the foreseeable future, the Wizards might not have enough talent to be in the playoffs this season.
Charlotte lost its two leading scorers from last season team that missed the playoffs and it might not get better in Buzz City this season. Terry Rozier will replace Kemba Walker at point guard and will have to take a bigger scoring role this season. Miles Bridges and rookie P.J. Washington have shown potential, but the Hornets are headed back to the lottery.