The Southeast Division of the NBA has had a deficit of talent for a while now but this year looks like it’s going to be brutal for fans. It looks like another predictable season is in store with the Wizards ending up on top and the Magic at the bottom, despite everyone trying to make some big offseason changes. Will these teams finally be able to step up and build the chemistry necessary to win? Check out our season preview below on the thoughts involving the divisional teams.
Washington Wizards – Will lightning strike twice for the Wizards this season? After finishing first in the Southeast Division last year, Washington is looking to repeat their divisional win. They’re led by top-notch all-star, John Wall, who will probably end up being better than last year. He averaged 23.1 points, 2 steals, 10.7 assists, 4.2 rebounds, and 45.1% field goal percentage per game in the 2016-2017 season. His second in command, Bradley Beal, was just as impressive last season with 23.1 points, 1.1 steals, 3.5 assists, 3.1 rebounds, 48.2% field goal percentage, and 40.4% from the three-point arc per game. In fact, they’re shooting ability as a whole is some of the best in the league, and there’s no doubt that the Wizards will make the playoffs this season. Destined to be in the top of their division again, the only thing that could drag them down is poor defensive play and sloppy turnovers.
Atlanta Hawks – The truth is, the Hawks are not going to have as good of a year as they did last season. In the Southeast Division, they might actually have the worst team of players and will undoubtedly suffer from their poor drafting abilities. The only positive aspect for the Hawks right now is young point guard, Dennis Schroder, who averaged 17.9 points, 6.3 assists, 3.1 rebounds, and 45.1% field goal percentage. Marco Belinelli and Luke Babbitt are decent shooters, but not the talented scorers that Atlanta needed to lead their team. However, Schroder is the only player on the Hawks roster who averaged over 14 points per game last season, which already spells doom for this young Atlanta team. Luckily, fans don’t seem to expect much and the organization is completely aware that this is going to be a rebuilding season with focus on the 2018 draft. Don’t be surprised to see Atlanta end up in the bottom of the division, but maybe they’ll find some undiscovered talent out of these untested players.
Miami Heat – With the Hawks most likely falling from their second place spot this season, the Heat is ready to take advantage of that opening. They finished in third place in the Southeast Division in 2016, but were so close to making it to the playoffs. With their team chemistry finally starting to build near the end of the season, they definitely are primed to make it to postseason this year. Unfortunately, their talent level is pretty average but the team works well together that it doesn’t seem to matter. Goran Dragic exploded last season with 20.3 points, 1.2 steals, 5.8 assists, 3.8 rebounds, 40.5% from the three-point line, and 47.5% field goal percentage. He’s a real threat in the paint because he’s able to drive to the basket incredibly well or feed the ball to an outside shooter for the score. The main question involving this Miami team is whether they’re able to be consistent enough to win games or if they’ll be stuck with sloppy mistakes throughout this year.
Charlotte Hornets – Taking fourth place in the Southeast Division, the Hornets team is desperate to make the playoffs. If Miami falters, they have a shot considering the addition of Dwight Howard to their starting five is going to launch the team on the path to success. Last season Howard averaged 13.5 points, 1.2 blocks, 1.4 assists, 12.7 rebounds, 63.3% field goal percentage and his big man capabilities will definitely help out the team. While Howard was a very public addition to the team, Kemba Walker is still the leader to the Charlotte team after spending six seasons with the team showing vast improvements. Walker finished last season with 23.2 points 1.1 steals, 5.5. assists, 3.9 rebounds, and 44.4% field goal percentage. He’s a workhorse, and it seems like he might finally have the starting roster he deserves this season with Nicolas Batum and Marvin Williams looking solid this season. Of course, what could make or break the Hornets are injuries and with Kemba already day-to-day, it looks like Charlotte might just miss the playoffs again.
Orlando Magic – The Magic were the laughing-stock of the league last year after having the second worst record in the league. Finishing last in the Southeast Division, will they finally be able to turn things around? Well, it’s not likely despite having assembled a group of young athletic players. Aaron Gordon has been slowly improving every year and last season he averaged 12.7 points, 1.9 assists, 5.1 rebounds, and 45.4% field goal percentage. This year could easily be his breakout season, and the Magic definitely need for someone to step up as a scorer. Truth be told, they just don’t have the offensive talent necessary to make the playoffs in this league. Until they can sign someone who can successfully lead the Orlando team or until everyone as a whole can do better, they’re probably going to remain at the bottom of the division.
With injuries already beginning to effect NBA players, will the Southeast Division be able to skate by? It looks like the division is already getting as impacted as other teams which could mean the end for teams like the Hornets who’s star player is day-to-day. Nevertheless, the emerging new talent in the league can make for an interesting season to see who can rise to the challenge and lead their team to victory.