What if the worst division in the NBA actually got even worse? Is that possible? We might find out with the Southeast Division. The Wizards should always be better than they are and yet history shows that they are made to disappoint. The Heat put a new definition on the concept of status quo ... but they seem willing to blow it all up in an effort to add Jimmy Butler. They just need Minnesota to cooperate. The Hornets are blah with a new coach and 100 percent less Dwight Howard while Orlando is just .... what they always are. Hey, at least the Hawks know they are in a serious rebuild. Even if the Heat or Wizards don’t improve they could still be threats to make the playoffs in the weak East. What do our writers think of the division? Read on ...
Verdict: WORSE (88.9% of respondents)
Last year’s record: 44-38 (6th in East)
Projected record: 40-42
Change: -4 wins
Additions: None(???) but maybe Jimmy Butler
Subtractions: None(???) but maybe what it costs to get Jimmy Butler
They’ll be worse, but they should still fight the Pistons for one of the lower playoff spots - unless they swing a Jimmy Butler trade, which is the hot rumor on the Twitter streets right now.
What do they have that the Pistons don’t? No one on the roster is at Blake Griffin’s level, and both Hassan Whiteside and Bam Adebayo are worse versions of Andre Drummond (Bam, though.. He’s going places, watch out).
However, they are impeccably coached, have redundancies across the roster for injuries, and are stuffed to the brim with wings who can make open shots and defend (Josh Richardson, Justise Winslow, James Johnson, Tyler Johnson, Derrick Jones Jr., Rodney McGruder… Dion Waiters if he feels like playing defense) - perhaps the single most crucial thing to have in today’s game. If the Heat can find shot creation from Goran Dragic and Dwayne Wade, they’ll be in a good place.
If they trade some of those wings for Jimmy Butler, they’ll be in an even BETTER place. (Laz Jackson)
Verdict: WORSE (55.6%)
Last year’s record: 43-39 (8th)
Projected record: 41-41
Change: -2 wins
Additions: Thomas Bryant, Jeff Green, Austin Rivers, Troy Brown, Issuf Sanon
Subtractions: Marcin Gortat, Mike Scott
The Wizards are a married couple that is staying together for the kids. They don’t seem to like one another. They can put on a good facade, but it doesn’t hide the underlying problems. The addition of Dwight Howard is the cherry on top. Despite the talent on the roster, this could get ugly. (Brady Fredericksen)
Verdict: WORSE (88.9%)
Last year’s record: 36-46 (10th)
Projected record: 35-47
Change: -1 win
Additions: Bismack Biyombo, Tony Parker, Miles Bridges, Devonte Graham, Arnoldas Kulboka
Subtractions: Michael Carter-Williams, Treveon Graham, Dwight Howard, Julyan Stone
Charlotte has some exciting young prospects on their roster in Miles Bridges, Malik Monk, and Devonte Graham, and I think these guys are going to get a lot of run this year. Reason being, the Hornets aren’t very good, and the writing is on the wall that this team doesn’t have the ready-now talent to escape the 8-10 range of the Eastern Conference. They’ll finally trade away Kemba Walker, and look to the future, which is a strategy they should have employed last year. (David Fernandez)
Verdict: WORSE (55.6%)
Last year’s record: 25-57 (14)
Projected record: 26-56 (Voters who expected Magic to get better predicted close to a 10-win improvement)
Additions: Isaiah Briscoe, Jerian Grant, Jarell Martin, Timofey Mozgov, Mohamed Bamba, Melvin Frazier, Justin Jackson
Subtractions: Bismack Biyombo, Mario Hezonja, Dakari Johnson, Shelvin Mack, Rodney Purvis
So the team’s two most interesting young players are guys who would thrive in a small ball environment. So the Magic go out and draft a traditional center. Brilliant. I wonder which team will be the beneficiary of getting Mo Bamba for pennies on the dollar in two years? Their perpetual rebuild continues as they’re under 30 wins for the sixth time in the past seven years. (Steve Hinson)
Last year’s record: 24-58 (15th)
Projected record: 23-59
Change: -1 win
Additions: Justin Anderson, Vince Carter, Daniel Hamilton, Alex Len, Jeremy Lin, Trae Young, Kevin Huerter, Omari Spellman
Subtractions: Antonius Cleveland, Damion Lee, Jaylen Morris, Mike Muscala, Dennis Schroder, Isaiah Taylor
See, Atlanta knows what they are - a rebuilding team - and so, you can begin the year trying to have fun with the losing instead of dreading it.
There’s a new coach in Lloyd Pierce? How fast will this team run? DRAMA!
Trae Young is a rookie point guard, which means you’ll lose a lot, but he’ll pull up from 28 feet a bunch! HIJINKS!
John Collins will dunk on people: EXCITING!
Will any of those things cause them to win more than they did last year? Probably not. But they’ll catch teams sleeping, or Trae Young will catch fire occasionally, and you’ll probably catch me watching the Hawks randomly in January more than you would the Magic or Kings.
Plus, depending on what happens with the Cavs this year, Atlanta could have three first-round picks this draft (again). Get in on the ground floor of the Hawks! (Laz Jackson)