Miami can win the Southeast by as many or as few games as they want to. Last season it became apparent that the Heat are the perfect playoff team. The rest of the division consists of young talent, but each of these teams are missing crucial pieces which will prevent them from reaching an elite status.
Miami Heat: The Heat will take the Southeast Division but not by as much as you might think as the Wizards will likely be a close second. After capturing a NBA Title last season, Pat Riley will make sure that his players are healthy entering the postseason. If that means sitting out Shaq at times and cutting down Dwayne Wade’s minutes, Riley will do it. Jason Williams and Antoine Walker proved to be great acquisitions last season as they showed that they could be role players. Riley stepping in as the head man may have been the best move by a franchise, period, last season. Shaq, Zo, and The Glove give this team the experience and leadership that many NBA teams are lacking and D-Wade is the icing on the cake.
Washington Wizards: Gilbert Arenas finally reached NBA elite status last season and will boost his numbers again this year, but I don’t foresee much improvement in the Wizards’ record. Jamison and Butler can score but neither plays much defense and the Wizards can’t ever afford to have Arenas on the bench. Maybe that’s why he led the league in minutes last season. Not having a big man is the down fall of this team like so many others across the league. The championship teams have a force in the middle unless Michael Jordan is on the team.
Orlando Magic: The Magic have one of the game’s best young talents in Dwight Howard. He dominated the paint last season leading the league in dunks and I think you’ll see even bigger things from him this year. The big “if” is Grant Hill. When he played last season, it was easy to see that he can still be a great player in this league and he has the veteran experience and attitude that this young team needs. If he can somehow make it through a full season, or most of it, the Magic could leapfrog Washington and take second place in the Southeast. Jameer Nelson is a consistent 16 and six guy at the point and Milicic may come into his own in his first full season as a starter. This team has great prospects.
Charlotte Bobcats: Despite being incredibly young an inexperienced, I think the Bobcats can avoid last in the Southeast. Felton will make plenty of noise this season at the point. He averaged nearly 17 points and nearly eight assists in 27 games following the All-Star Break. With rookie Adam Morrison, explosive small forward Gerald Wallace, and double-double man Emeka Okafor, the Bobcats have some great young talent. They’ll play with nothing to lose and really light up the score board this season. Their big concern is defense and that concern won’t be answered all season long.
Atlanta Hawks: The Hawks are another team that falls into the “young and talented” category. This category’s subtitle should be “no chance to make the playoffs. ” Joe Johnson isn’t a franchise player at just 20 points per game, and I don’t see Marvin Williams or Josh Smith reaching that status ever. Williams may surprise me this season, but he has such an ease to his game that I get the feeling he lacks the determination it takes to excel in the NBA. Perhaps, it is just an illusion and winning will change that, but I don’t foresee much winning anytime soon for the Hawks.
Jimmy Boyd is a documented member of the Professional Handicappers League. Read all of his articles at http://www.procappers.com/Jimmy_Boyd.htm