NBA Southeast Division Predictions

doc's sports | Robert Ferringo and Nolan Sinc ( Fri 24th, October 2008 )

The NBA's Southeast Division reminds me of my Monday night TV schedule: just too many options

for me to enjoy. And just like my DVR has trouble making room for them all, I get the sense that the NBA playoff field is going to be without a quality team from this division as these teams cannibalize one another throughout the regular season.

When your division features the likes of Gilbert Arenas, Caron Butler, Dwight Howard, Rashard Lewis, Josh Smith, Joe Johnson, Emeka Okafor, and Jason Richardson you know that you are on the up-and-up. Add to that some guy named Dwayne Wade, fresh off an outstanding Olympics, and The Matrix, Shawn Marion, and you are in for some outstanding one-on-one battles in the Southeast Division.

With all of the positives surrounding this division we also have some critical questions. Is Michael Beasley going to be as good as advertised, and how quickly will that happen? Can the Hawks figure out that they have good young talent and get back to the playoffs despite playing in front of the six people that come to see them each night in Philips Arena? Is Charlotte going to stay healthy enough to challenge Orlando? Is Dwight Howard going to continue to get better? These and many other interesting subplots abound in the 2008 Southeast Division.

So without further ado, and in no particular order, here is Doc's Sports Southeastern Division Predictions:

Orlando Magic
2007-2008 Record: (52-30)
2008-2009 NBA Title Odds: 15/1
2008-2009 over/under wins total: 50.5
2008-2009 projected wins: OVER
Key Additions: Mickael Pietrus
Key Losses: Maurice Evans, Kenyon Dooling

Losing two key players like Evans and Dooling will hurt a little bit, but the talent that this team still has can make up for it. Dwight Howard is an absolute beast and is going to make a run at the MVP this year, while Rashard Lewis is just getting started in Orlando. The front line of Howard, Lewis, and Turkoglu is the best in the East. Now, don't go getting crazy on me and yelling that I said they were better than the Big Three in Boston. I just said the best front line. Yet, if you want I will argue that they are right there with the men in green. Howard (21 and 14), Lewis (18 and 5) and Turmoil (19, 5.and 7), out score, out rebound, and only trail in assists by two per night when you stack their digits up to those of the Celtics' Holy Trinity. As a result, and considering their youth, we can expect the Magic to challenge for the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. However, I wonder how much value is going to be left for bettors with this team since the word is out on these up-and-comers.

Washington Wizards
2007-2008 Record: (43-39)
2008-2009 NBA Title Odds: 40/1
2008-2009 over/under wins total: 38.5
2008-2009 projected wins: UNDER
Key Additions: none
Key Losses: Roger Mason

Did you hear the news? Gilbert Arenas just got hurt. He hurt his knee and is out for the first month of the season. Did you also hear that the Wizards signed him to a six-year $111 million contract? Money well spent for a man that played 13 games last year and is now injured again. Awesome. Now, I know that he is a tremendous talent when healthy and a solid blogger, but the Wizards just took $111 million crazy chances that he will stay on the court. The best part of this whole story is that the Wizards offered him $127 million and he turned it down for less, saying "There is nothing I can do for my family with $127 million that I couldn't do with $111 million." I think even he knew he was going to be stealing money. The Wizards do still have Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler to carry them in Arenas' absence, and last year they were 36-31 without Agent Zero. And this year they also lost Brendan Haywood for four-to-six months so they will be thin inside. One player to watch is Andray Blatche. With more a little more playing time he could be right around 10 points, seven rebounds, and two blocks a game. But the bottom line is that this is just not a very good team due to problems with its depth.

Atlanta Hawks
2007-2008 Record: (37-45)
2008-2009 NBA Title Odds: 60/1
2008-2009 over/under wins total: 39.5
2008-2009 projected wins: OVER
Key Additions: Maurice Evans, Ronald Murray
Key Losses: Josh Childress

It's tough when your pro basketball franchise draws about one quarter of the people that high school football teams in the area do. But that is the station of the Atlanta Hawks, The Team That Fans Forgot. Philips Arena is a blast and good, cheap seats are always available. And last year you were getting a steal, as Atlanta turned out to be a pretty exciting young team. The core is back - despite the best efforts of their incompetent management group to ensure otherwise - including a legit go-to scorer in Joe Johnson and a jack-of-all trades in Josh Smith. The loss of Josh Childress will hurt but Ronald "Flip" Murray and Mo Evans should help seal the wound. Al Horford was nearly 10 and 10 last year and will flirt with 13 and 10 this year. Look for the Hawks to be right around .500 and finish right around the projected 39.5 wins total.

Charlotte Bobcats
2007-2008 Record: (32-50)
2008-2009 NBA Title Odds: 60/1
2008-2009 over/under wins total: 34.5
2008-2009 projected wins: UNDER
Key Additions: Larry Brown
Key Losses: none

Larry Brown has always been a coach that will knock you down to get you to play the way he wants and I am not sure this will help the Bobcats this season. One good thing they have going for them is they play 20 of their first 32 games at home. The Bobcats have balance offensively with four guys averaging over 13.8 points a game, yet it only amounted to 32 wins. Raymond Felton looks to be on his way out with the drafting of D.J. Augustin, not to mention the fact that Brown doesn't really like shoot-first point guards. This is yet another reclamation project for Brown, and we've seen him succeed in these situations in the past. But in his division I still look for the Bobcats to finish last. (P.S. I was wrong when I hinted that they only had one good thing going for them. The Lady Cats are No. 2!)

Miami Heat
2007-2008 Record: (15-67, GOOD LORD!)
2008-2009 NBA Title Odds: 50/1 (***note*** Opened at 200/1)
2008-2009 over/under wins total: 33.5
2008-2009 projected wins (OVER)
Key Additions: Michael Beasley, Mario Chalmers, James Jones, The Old Dwyane Wade, and a full season of Shawn Marion
Key Losses: Jason Williams

Losing Jason Williams could hurt. Particularly if you enjoy turnovers and erratic/ill-advised shots. This will thrust young Mario Chalmers into the starting lineup, with Shaun Livingston trying to revive what's left of his career (and leg) as Chalmers' backup. That is, as long as Chalmers doesn't get caught going one-on-one with Puff The Magic Dragon again. This team has a lot going for it. D-Wade seems to be back to full strength after his marvelous performance in the Olympics and Shawn Marion will have an entire off-season/preseason/regular season to gel with this team. Miami had a great draft, getting the player whom many say was the best talent in the draft in Michael Beasley. The Heat staring five of Blount, Marion, Beasley, D-Wade and Chalmers should be enough to surpass that 33.5 win total, and (only in the East) give them a shot of making the playoffs.

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