Which Teams Can Compete With The Miami Heat In The Southeast Division?
Can Anyone Run With Miami?
The Southeast division of the NBA has been a lopsided battle of Goliath and the townspeople ever since the Miami Heat made history, signing the “Big 3." One out of five teams has seen successful in large quantities, while the other four suffer a miserable existence.
A handful of intriguing, tremendous or just plain stupid events and transactions have taken place to the teams that make up this division. A star single handedly crushed a coaching career and devastated a franchise.
Another star found himself entangled in the dangerous web of gambling while his career and league status began to falter. The combination of criticism and debt made for a vicious locker room.
There was also the creation of a new team in the city of the original Hornets, and the coming of the king in South Beach
So much has taken place in this division over the last decade, and it has left it with one successful and dominant team.
Miami has owned the division, and frankly the Eastern conference, for the last three years. The combination of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh has proved to be vastly superior to the other four teams of the Southeast.
The Heat won the division by a whopping 22 games over the Atlanta Hawks. The other three teams finished terribly below .500, as two teams managed to be the two worst in the entire league.
I am here to say that there will be some improvement amongst the bottom of the barrel, but no one will be close to competing with the defending champions. Here is how the division will go down in the 2013-14 season.
5.) Orlando Magic
The Orlando Magic hit rock bottom after Dwight Howard’s drawn out temper tantrum gutted the franchise. The team finished at the bottom of the Southeast and the Association. A mid-season trade did little to improve the Magic, and this summer hasn’t been much better.
Orlando took Victor Oladipo with the second overall pick, and also picked up Jason Maxiell over the offseason. They remain in a dispute with forward Hedo Turkoglu, who wishes to end his career with the organization.
I do not have high hopes for this franchise improving this season. The Magic did not make many big offseason moves, and they are lacking a star player. It is unknown what Oladipo might do, but we should know better than to put our faith in a rookie’s hands.
Orlando will struggle through this season again, earning a lottery pick and continuing to rebuild from the Howard disaster.
4.) Atlanta Hawks
Atlanta, Atlanta (Inset disappointed head shake here). The Hawks were a team that has seen many hardships over the last 13 years, but was beginning to grow and become a prominent franchise in the East. Joe Johnson came and went, and he was replaced by worthy players who continued to take the team to the postseason. However, this year is not looking so good.
After finishing second in the Southeast and sixth in the conference, the Hawks lost what could be considered the face of the organization. Josh Smith left Atlanta for the bankrupt streets of Detroit, and the Hawks did very little to fill that void.
They did sign big man Paul Millsap and deteriorating Elton Brand, but lost guard Devin Harris. Atlanta’s guard situation looks concerning, as Jeff Teague will have to carry much of the load
It will be a tough season in “Hotlanta” as the Hawks go through a small rebuilding phase. I predict they will finish fourth in the Southeast and most likely miss the postseason.
3.) Washington Wizards
Known as the place where Michael Jordan went to spend his withering years, the Washington Wizards have been a team of bad fortune and misery.
Far removed from Jordan, a whiff of the Gilbert Arenas Show remains in the air. The era of “Agent Zero” and pulling guns on teammates continues to quietly haunt this sad franchise.
Wait, wait, the winds are shifting and the awful smells of overrated and disappointment are dispersing. There is a chance that Washington could make the playoffs!
Let’s not get ahead of ourselves, but it could happen. The Wizards showed signs of brilliance last season, they just did not convert it to wins. They drafted Otto Porter Jr. and added speedy guard Leandro Barbosa. John Wall continues to improve, Bradley Beal is emerging, and Nene is a proven front court contributor.
Washington should see improvements in the win column, and will finish third in the Southeast again. As far as the playoffs go, do not count them out for the eighth seed.
2.) Charlotte Bobcats
This may be the surprise team of the NBA this season. An organization that seems like it was just born yesterday and a team that is dying for success, the Charlotte Bobcats is my sleeper pick to make the playoffs.
Charlotte has been a team stuck in neutral ever since the league returned to Charlotte in 2002. Whenever they take a step forward, they take two steps back. Michael Jordan is hoping to change that, and it looks like they are on the right track.
The Bobcats had a pathetic 21 wins last season, and finished second to last in the division and overall. The future is bright, as Charlotte spent the summer drafting Cody Zeller and adding center Al Jefferson.
An improved front court will mesh well with a solid guard core of Ben Gordon, Kemba Walker, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Gerald Henderson. The back court is young and has improvement to be made, but there is great potential, and Jefferson’s presence will open up opportunities for the guards.
I predict the Bobcats to finish second in the Southeast and have a legitimate chance of making the playoffs.
1.) Miami Heat
There is not much to say here besides, Miami is Miami. The “Big 3” remain intact and a majority of the championship roster is set to return. The defending champs are sitting pretty, and no matter what the new additions of Michael Beasley and Greg Oden do, they will continue to be the favorite of the league.
Barring any catastrophic injuries or “Space Jam” like aliens stealing the players’ skills, the Heat will easily win the Southeast division, as well as take the No. 1 seed in the East.