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2018-19 NBA Predictions: Southeast Division

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John Wall” by Keith Allison is licensed under CC BY-SA 2.0

The Southeast division features two playoff teams from a season ago, the Washington Wizards and the Miami Heat. Miami was the best team in this division a season ago, but there have been a lot of changes throughout the division over the course of the offseason.

Miami was the only team who didn’t really make any significant changes. They have been trying to get Jimmy Butler, so keep an eye on that situation, but for now, they haven’t done anything significant. Every other team has made moves to hopefully shake things up. Will Miami be able to repeat as the Southeast division winners? Let’s take a look at each team in the Southeast division and see where they’ll finish in the 2018-19 season.

 

1. WASHINGTON WIZARDS

OFFSEASON & REVIEW

Record: 43-39

Postseason Result: Lost 4-2 to the Toronto Raptors in the 1st round of the playoffs.

Offseason Acquisitions:

  • Signed C Dwight Howard and F Jeff Green in free agency.
  • Acquired G Austin Rivers from the Clippers.
  • Drafted SF Troy Brown (Oregon) 15th overall in the NBA Draft.

Offseason Departures:

  • Traded C Marcin Gortat to the Clippers.
  • Lost PG Ty Lawson, G Tim Frazier and PG/SG Ramon Sessions.
  • Also lost PF Chris McCullough and PF Mike Scott.

2018-19 PREVIEW/THE BIG QUESTION

I like what the Wizards did this offseason to help their team. Trading Marcin Gortat was a good move because he brought some locker room tension they no longer needed. They also got G Austin Rivers in return for him. Rivers should provide some needed scoring off the bench when either Wall or Beal are out of the game.

Signing Dwight Howard was an underrated move in my opinion. Howard isn’t the superstar player he once was, but he’s still a good player who can get a lot of rebounds and provide some scoring inside.

This team now has John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter Jr. and Dwight Howard in their starting lineup. That looks great, but can they put it all together? Wall and Beal haven’t been able to become the dynamic duo we all want to see from them. They’re good, but not elite. Can they take the next step and have Porter Jr. and Howard there to be reliable secondary options? If they can live up to their potential, we could be looking at a serious Eastern Conference contender.

The biggest question for me with this team though, is can John Wall stay healthy? It was clear this team struggled without Wall in the lineup last season. John Wall had four straight years of playing 77 games or more, but last season he only played 41. Wall must get back to playing 70+ games for this team to have a real shot. He played very well when he returned last year, so let’s see if he can keep it up this season.

Prediction: 50-32

 

2. MIAMI HEAT

OFFSEASON & REVIEW

Record: 44-38

Postseason Result: Lost 4-1 to the Philadelphia 76ers in the first round of the playoffs.

Offseason Acquisitions: 

  • Resigned Dwyane Wade and Udonis Haslem.

Offseason Departures:

  • Lost SF Luke Babbitt.

2018-19 PREVIEW/THE BIG QUESTION

Miami was a pretty good team last year even though they didn’t have a star player. Miami is full of really good players, but they don’t have a star. They were able to keep Dwyane Wade for another year though. The problem with that is that even though Wade is their biggest star, I’m not sure he’s their best player at this point in his career.

Miami has a lot of good players who play well together, which is why they win games. They have great team chemistry. Not one of their players dominates every single game. One game it could be Goran Dragic, but the next game it could be James Johnson. I love how they play as a team.

My biggest concern for the Heat this season is Dwyane Wade’s retirement tour. We know this is going to be his last year. Will it change how this team plays? I want to see Wade go out on a high note, but what I don’t want to see is Miami trying to get him to score 50 points every game so he can put on a show for the fans.

The fans are probably going to want to see Wade put on big performances. That’s okay for them to want that, but they have to wait for one of those games when Wade just goes off and has the hot hand. What Miami can’t do is force the ball to Wade every game so he can score a bunch of points. I trust Erik Spoelstra will be able to manage this and keep his team winning while allowing Wade to have a great retirement tour.

Prediction: 45-37

 

3. CHARLOTTE HORNETS 

OFFSEASON & REVIEW

Record: 36-46

Postseason Result: N/A

Offseason Acquisitions:

  • Hired Coach James Borrego.
  • Named Mitch Kupchak GM.
  • Signed G Tony Parker in free agency.
  • Drafted F Miles Bridges 12th overall in the NBA Draft.
  • Drafted G Devonte’ Graham in the second round of the NBA Draft.
  • Traded for C Bismack Biyombo.

Offseason Departures:

  • Fired GM Rich Cho.
  • Fired Coach Steve Clifford.
  • Traded C Dwight Howard to the Nets for C Timofey Mosgov. Mosgov was later traded to Orlando.
  • Lost Michael Carter-Williams in free agency.

2018-19 PREVIEW/THE BIG QUESTION

We all know who the man is on this team. Kemba Walker is the best player for the Hornets without question. Walker has scored 20+ points in three straight years, and I expect him to do so again this season. When the Hornets need a bucket, Walker is who they look to.

They have a star player, but he’s not enough to carry them. Nicolas Batum has always been more of a role player, Miles Bridges has promise but is a rookie, Malik Monk and Dwayne Bacon have potential but are still very young players, etc. There’s nobody outside of Walker who can elevate the Hornets to the next level.

Not if, but when they aren’t in contention this season, will the Hornets trade Kemba Walker? It would make sense for them to trade him. They’re not putting other star players around him, but rather have younger pieces with potential. Is it time to officially start a rebuild? They could get a first round pick or other valuable assets in return for Walker that could help them build their future.

Even if the Hornets do get in the playoffs, they’re not going to be taken seriously with the Celtics, Raptors, 76ers, Bucks and others among the Eastern Conference playoff teams.

Prediction: 36-46

 

4. ORLANDO MAGIC

OFFSEASON & REVIEW

Record: 25-57

Postseason Result: N/A

Offseason Acquisitions:

  • Hired Coach Steve Clifford.
  • Traded for C Timofey Mosgov and G Jerian Grant.
  • Drafted C Mohamed Bamba 6th overall in the NBA Draft.
  • Drafted SF Melvin Frazier Jr. 35th overall and traded for the rights to G/F Justin Jackson (43rd pick).
  • Signed G Isaiah Briscoe.

Offseason Departures:

  • Fired Coach Frank Vogel.
  • Traded C Bismack Biyombo to Charlotte.
  • Lost G/F Mario Hezonja in free agency.
  • Lost G Shelvin Mack in free agency.

2018-19 PREVIEW/THE BIG QUESTION

Orlando has been a frustrating team to watch over the last few seasons. They continuously draft players who can’t shoot, but are good defenders. They did that again this year by selecting Mohamed Bamba. I don’t blame them for taking Bamba sixth overall. After all, he was the best player available and Trae Young had been taken at that point.

But Orlando really does need some scoring ability. Where is the scoring going to come from? This team has nice defensive pieces, but you can’t win a game on defense alone. You need offense to go along with the defense. I’m not sure Orlando has that.

Aaron Gordon is going to be looked at this season as the player who should take a big leap. He’s made improvements every year he’s been in the NBA, but now he’s entering his fifth NBA season. It’s time for him to take the next step. He’s only 23, so he still has time to grow as a player, but he does need to take a step forward.

Orlando seems like a team who could surprise, but for that to happen they have to get someone to step up and be their star player. Who’s their go to guy? Orlando will make a step forward in the win column this year, but there’s still a lot of work to be done before they’re a real threat in the Eastern Conference.

Prediction: 33-49

 

5. ATLANTA HAWKS  

OFFSEASON & REVIEW

Record: 24-58

Postseason Result: N/A

Offseason Acquisitions:

  • Hired Coach Lloyd Pierce.
  • Drafted G Trae Young (5th), G Kevin Huerter (19th) and F Omari Spellman (30th).
  • Traded for G/F Justin Anderson.
  • Signed C Alex Len.
  • Signed G/F Vince Carter and F Thomas Robinson.
  • Traded for G Jeremy Lin.

Offseason Departures:

  • Parted ways with Coach Mike Budenholzer.
  • Traded for SF Carmelo Anthony, who was waived days later.
  • Traded PF/C Mike Muscala to Philadelphia.
  • Traded G Dennis Schroder to OKC.

2018-19 PREVIEW/THE BIG QUESTION

I think Atlanta is going to be a fun team to watch this season, even though they still won’t be contending for a playoff spot. One reason this team will be fun to watch is because they have a lot of new pieces. Trae Young, Vince Carter, Jeremy Lin, etc. How will they all fit together?

This is still a pretty young team with a lot of potential. I think they get closer to fulfilling that potential this year, but they’re not at the point where their potential has been reached. John Collins, Tyler Dorsey and Taurean Prince are a few young Hawks players who could be part of a winning culture in the future.

Obviously the biggest reason to watch the Hawks this season will be to see how PG Trae Young performs in his rookie season. Young lit up college basketball with his scoring and passing ability. He’s been compared to Steph Curry hundreds of times, which instantly makes me want to watch him. How quickly will Trae Young adjust to the NBA? Will he become a star? If so, how long will it be before that happens?

What Hawks fans need to keep in mind is that drafting Trae Young is just the start. He’s not going to turn the Hawks into the Warriors in one season. If you look at Steph Curry, he didn’t help the Warriors get to the playoffs until his fourth NBA season. It took them time to acquire the right pieces.

Hawks GM Travis Schlenk was part of the Warriors building a championship, and by drafting a Steph Curry comparison in Trae Young, it’s obvious he’s trying to build a similar team in Atlanta. He’s headed in the right direction, but he needs time to acquire all the right pieces. The Hawks will improve this year, but they’ll need a couple more seasons before they’re in the playoff mix.

Prediction: 30-52

 

PREDICTED DIVISION STANDINGS:

  1. Washington Wizards (50-32)
  2. Miami Heat (45-37)
  3. Charlotte Hornets (36-46)
  4. Orlando Magic (33-49)
  5. Atlanta Hawks (30-52)

 

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3 Responses

  1. I like the new layout! Looks really nice!

  1. October 16, 2018

    […] Joel’s Southeast:                                              Joel’s Southwest: […]

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