The NBA season gets underway in less than a week. Over the next few days, BangtheBook will be taking a look at each division and providing a free prediction for the winner of that division. Next up is the Eastern Conference- Southeast Division. Odds to win division are from 5Dimes, while the season win totals listed are from BetOnline.
Odds to win Division: -2,000
Season Win Total: 60.5
Key Newcomers: Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Josh Harrellson
It’s hard to overstate how good this Miami Heat team can be in the year ahead. Obviously, Miami won the title last season, but this year’s team should be much better. Ray Allen gives the Heat a much-needed consistent three-point threat. Rashard Lewis will give them improved depth on the bench. LeBron James is clearly the best player in the NBA at this point, and his progress during the last year has been amazing. Dwyane Wade will be healthier than he was last season. Miami should coast to the best record in the Eastern Conference, and it’s hard to imagine anyone knocking them out of the playoffs. Look out for a very special season from this team.
Odds to win Division: +1,800
Season Win Total: 43.5
Key Losses: Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Kirk Hinrich
Key Newcomers: Devin Harris, Anthony Morrow, Kyle Korver, Lou Williams
The Hawks will have a different look this season. Joe Johnson and Marvin Williams had been with the team for quite a while, but they are gone. Morrow and Korver give the Hawks two very good three-point shooters. Devin Harris will give the team a great passer in the backcourt. Coach Drew has said in the offseason that Atlanta will look to push the tempo more this year. The Hawks have the players to put up points, and they are going to try outscore teams this season. Al Horford is healthy and that is huge for this team, because he has been their most efficient performer. Atlanta should be in the thick of the Eastern Conference playoff standings.
Odds to win Division: +8,000
Season Win Total: 23.5
Key Losses: Dwight Howard, Jason Richardson
Key Newcomers: Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Andrew Nicholson
Dwight Howard’s sideshow will no longer be in town, but neither will his dominating game. The Magic will have Glen Davis and Nikola Vucevic as their starting frontcourt. That certainly isn’t going to scare any opponents. Stan Van Gundy was run out of town, and now it is up to Jacque Vaughn to work with this mismatched team. Vaughn will have the team push the tempo, because he really doesn’t have another option. This team doesn’t have enough size and strength on the inside to play halfcourt basketball. They’ll need to try to get easy opportunities on fast breaks. Expect a long season with lots of losses in Orlando.
Odds to win Division: +8,500
Season Win Total: 27.5
Key Losses: Andray Blatche, Javale McGee, Rashard Lewis, Nick Young
Key Newcomers: Bradley Beal, Emeka Okafor, Trevor Ariza, Martell Webster
The Washington Wizards finished last season with the second worst record in the NBA. John Wall is the player this franchise is building around. He’ll get a lot of help this year from rookie Bradley Beal. Beal has the potential to be a real star in the league because of his versatility. With Wall and Beal, the Wizards quickly have one of the best backcourts in the league. If Wall could just develop a jump shot he would be one of the toughest players to stop in the NBA. The frontcourt isn’t dominating, but they have some solid players who will hold their own. This team has a ways to go, but they are headed in the right direction.
Odds to win Division: +25,000
Season Win Total: 19
Key Losses: D.J. Augustin, Corey Maggette
Key Newcomers: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Ramon Sessions, Ben Gordon
Charlotte managed to have the worst winning percentage in NBA history last year. The Bobcats went a miserable 7-59. To say that this team was awful is a major understatement. If you are looking for a positive, it’s hard to imagine that this team could be any worse this year. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will be a guy this team builds around. Kemba Walker was pretty good on a horrible team last year, and he should be a solid player moving forward. Still, this team has no real identity, and it’s hard to see them making any major gains. The Bobcats may well be the worst team in basketball again this year.
Southeast Division Prediction: Miami Heat (-2,000)
I tried to find a reason to pick someone else to win this division, but I just can’t. I’m not a fan of the Heat, but I do know a great team when I see one. Miami should be absolutely dominating this season.
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