Southeast Division Predictions
1) Miami Heat
PG: Mario Chalmers/Norris Cole
SG: Dwyane Wade/Ray Allen
SG: LeBron James/Shane Battier/Rashard Lewis
PF: Udonis Haslem/Chris Anthony
C: Chris Bosh/Joel Anthony/Greg Oden
I don’t think I need more than about two sentences to explain why the Heat will win this division. They are favorite for the coveted three-peat and have the best player on the planet on their team who is determined to be the best player ever. I think there will be any problems, baring any major injures.
2) Washington Wizards
PG: John Wall/Eric Maynor
SG: Bradley Beal/Martell Webster
SF: Trevor Ariza/Otto Porter Jr.
PF: Nene/Chris Singleton
C: Marcin Gortat/ Jan Vesely
The Wizards could be a sneaky surprise team in the East. I put them in the same category as the Cavs, two young and exciting point guards rattled by injuries. The Wizards paid John Wall so they trust he will be ready to go and lead the team back to the playoffs. If they play Nene and Gortat at the same time and they play nicely off each other, that’s a solid 4-5 duo.
Jan Vesely had to justify his high draft pick this year or will go down as yet another European bust. Bradley Beal has great potential and if he can step it up and work with Wall, that’s a great young backcourt. Trevor Ariza is the starter at the 3, but Otto Porter is the future and will have to show he can play at an elite level because this league is filled with studs at the strong forward position. There’s a lot of “ifs” for the Wizards but I can see them taking the next step and improving their record and pushing for a low playoff seed.
3) Atlanta Hawks
PG: Jeff Teague/Donnie Schroder
SG: Lou Williams
SF: Kyle Korver
PF: Paul Millsap
C: Al Horford/Elton Brand
The Atlanta Hawks are one of those teams that are in no man’s land. They lost their All-Stars in Joe Johnson and Josh Smith over the last two seasons but even with those players they were never feared by anyone. They paid Paul Milsap this summer who is underrated at they come but isn’t going to be the main focus of a playoff team. Al Horford is also very underrated by is a major trade piece if the Hawks decide to blow this thing up. The Hawks will win some games but even if they keep Horford, I don’t see them making much of a playoff push.
4) Charlotte Bobcats
PG: Kemba Walker/Ramon Sessions
SG: Gerald Henderson/Ben Gordon
SF: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF: Cody Zeller/Josh McRoberts
C: Al Jefferson/Bismack Biyombo
Could this be the year? I’m not saying they will be making some sort of miracle playoff run, but the Bobcats could see a little bit of improvement this season. Kemba Walker looks like he is transitioning nicely into the NBA game and is a suitable starting point guard. He now has a solid big man in Al Jefferson to help him create plays down low.
Cody Zeller will also help the Bobcats swing the ball around as the top 5 pick will be penciled as the day 1 starter. Zeller will always be compared to Ben McLemore, who many others and I thought the Bobcats should have drafted when he was still on the board at #4. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist has the tools to be an excellent defender, but has to improve his offensive skills greatly if the Bobcats are eventually going to have any sort of a future.
5) Orlando Magic
PG: Jameer Nelson
SG: Aaron Affalo/Victor Oladipo
SF: Tobias Harris/Mo Harkless
PG: Glen Davis/Andrew Nicholson
C: Nikola Vucevic
I love the players on the Magic, but think this year will a big learning experience for them. Jameer Nelson is an average point guard and is considered the veteran on this team. If a team needs a point guard, like the Thunder, I can see them trading him. Niokla Vucevic is a monster down low and is one of the best rebounders in the league. Tobias Harris is getting a lot of hype this season and it will be interesting to see how he lives up to the hype.
The other two young players the Magic are hoping to show promise is Mo Harkless and Victor Oladipo. Mo has a great NBA body and can sneakily develop nicely on a young Orlando team with low expectations. The same goes for 2nd overall pick Oladipo, who is a favorite for Rookie of the Year. Many have said he will instantly be a great defender and has the ability to be “Dwyane-Wade like.” That might be over doing it but Victor should be pretty good. But as for the team he plays for, they will be off the grid this season.