- HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors - http://www.hoopsworld.com -
Predicting Wins For NBA’s Southeast Division
Posted By Lang Greene On August 13, 2013 @ 12:21 pm In Main Page,NBA | No Comments
Back in 2010 the Southeast Division was arguably the toughest in the league with four teams earning a spot in the playoffs. However, the division hasn’t been as strong in recent seasons due to the departure of All-Stars such as Dwight Howard and Joe Johnson.
The 2013-14 campaign could see the Southeast Division feature as many as three playoff caliber teams.
The Miami HEAT will enter the season with thoughts of pulling off a three-peat to solidify their dynasty. The Atlanta Hawks have a ton of new faces in the organization but are looking to reach the playoffs for the seventh consecutive season. The Washington Wizards are banking on John Wall blossoming into an All-Star performer and leading the franchise back into the postseason for the first time since 2008. And the Charlotte Bobcats and Orlando Magic each should see their win totals improve over last season.
This week, we’ll look at the NBA one division at a time and try to predict what each organization’s record will be by season’s end.
Here is how the Southeast Division could play out in the 2013-14 season:
2012-13 Record: 66-16
Projected 2013-14 Record: 63-19
Miami has reached the NBA Finals three consecutive seasons and have taken home the past two Larry O’Brien trophies in the process. The HEAT feature the league’s reigning regular season and Finals MVP, four future Hall of Famers and a plethora of productive veterans who never shy away from the big moment.
Now, an argument can be made the HEAT will take a slight step back this season after a relatively quiet summer, the uncertainty of All-Star guard Dwyane Wade’s overall health and the fact pivotal role players Ray Allen, Shane Battier and Chris Andersen will be a year older.
But the team is still led at the top by the best player in the game today, LeBron James, and the roster has the unique blend of team chemistry and depth needed to successfully navigate through the brutal 82 game regular season slate.
With the upstart Indiana Pacers now nipping on their heels, a revamped Brooklyn Nets roster and Derrick Rose returning to the Chicago Bulls’ lineup, Miami will have to pull out all stops to secure home court advantage (a key ingredient to last season’s title campaign).
Don’t be surprised to see the HEAT get off to a quick start right out of the gate. The club has a favorable 11 game stretch beginning on November 9 with Boston, Milwaukee, Dallas, Charlotte (2x), Atlanta, Orlando (2x), Phoenix, Cleveland and Toronto on the docket.
2012-13 Record: 44-38
Projected 2013-14 Record: 42-40
The Atlanta Hawks never seem to get the appropriate credit, but the franchise has reached the playoffs the past six seasons. The recent success shouldn’t be dismissed as an easy accomplishment, but making it to the postseason for a seventh consecutive time will be the team’s toughest task yet.
The team’s roster is full of fresh faces and the new additions will have to gel quickly in order to build momentum. Two-time All-Star center Al Horford is the lone player remaining from the start of the Hawks’ current postseason streak. Horford will be entrusted to become more of a leader than at any point in his career and his response to this role will be important as the Hawks allowed team leaders Josh Smith and Zaza Pachulia to depart in free agency. Atlanta will also introduce a rookie head coach in (longtime Spurs assistant) Mike Budenholzer into the mix and navigate through this learning curve.
Chemistry is one of the most underrated aspects in the NBA so the defections of Smith and Pachulia will undoubtedly hurt. However, the team added established veterans Paul Millsap and Elton Brand in free agency. Both players are well respected around the league and generally receive rave reviews from teammates.
The biggest obstacle facing the new look Hawks as they attempt to gain cohesion is the early season schedule. The team will play seven out of its first 11 games on the road. Nevertheless, the Hawks should be in the mix for another playoff berth; however the month of April will be brutal trying to clinch their spot. Games against Chicago, Cleveland, Indiana, Brooklyn, Miami and Milwaukee are on deck. All of those teams have (varying degrees of) playoff aspirations of their own.
2012-13 Record: 29-53
Projected 2013-14 Record: 40-42
The Washington Wizards last reached the playoffs in 2008 and have finished at least 20 games below .500 in every season since. Things haven’t looked good for the Wizards in recent years, but there is a genuine optimism growing around the club that this season could produce the long awaited postseason berth.
Everything for the Wizards starts and ends with the play of point guard John Wall. The franchise signed the former No. 1 overall pick to a reported five-year $80 million contract extension this summer. Wall spent a good portion of last season injured but erupted in the last two months of the regular season averaging 23 points and eight assists per contest. So there is hope he can potentially blossom into an All-Star performer.
The Wizards also drafted forward Otto Porter in the lottery and re-signed veteran wing Martell Webster to a lucrative multi-year deal, while also snagging backup point guard Eric Maynor in free agency.
The team is positioned, talent-wise, to make a postseason run with veteran Nene, Emeka Okafor and Trevor Ariza. The trio of veterans possesses playoff experience and will be counted on to play key roles. The Wizards are also hoping for a sophomoric jump in production from last year’s lottery pick Brad Beal.
But while the talent is in place, the schedule is going to test the Wizards early and often.
The team has 20 back-to-backs on the schedule. Only the Charlotte Bobcats, with 21, have more. Five of the team’s back-to-backs will take place in the season’s first month of the season. Ten of the club’s first 16 games will be on the road. The early slate contains a murderer’s row which includes visits to Dallas, San Antonio, Oklahoma City, Indiana and Miami.
2012-13 Record: 21-61
Projected 2013-14 Record: 30-52
Last season the Charlotte Bobcats tripled their win total over the prior campaign, but it wasn’t enough to save head coach Mike Dunlap’s job. The team opted to go in a different direction and hired former Los Angeles Lakers assistant Steve Clifford. The newly minted sideline general has spent the majority of the summer building relationships, setting expectations and securing buy-in with his young core.
The team signed veteran center Al Jefferson to a lucrative deal in free agency. Jefferson is one of the most consistent frontcourt scorers in the league and will immediately become the club’s go to option offensively. Charlotte also used the fourth overall pick in this year’s draft to select forward Cody Zeller, who had a very strong showing during Summer League play.
The Bobcats are also hoping Kemba Walker and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, both of whom attended Team USA mini-camp in July, experience significant lifts in productivity after being surrounded by some of the game’s best talents.
The schedule will give rookie head coach Clifford and the young Bobcats a stiff test with a league-high 21 back-to-backs. Last season the club won just four out of 22 contests without a day’s rest. However the ten of the club’s first 17 games will be at home which could produce a hot start for the team and provide enough momentum for a young team looking for confidence.
2012-13 Record: 20-62
Projected 2013-14 Record: 23-59
As expected, the Orlando Magic missed the playoffs for the first time since 2007 last season. The team is in the beginning stages of a lengthy rebuilding project sparked by the departure of All-Star center Dwight Howard last summer. The 2013-14 campaign figures to feature more of the same we witnessed in Orlando last season – in the way of mounting losses.
First, the team added former Indiana University standout Victor Oladipo with the second overall pick in this year’s draft and is set to receive a high pick in next year’s edition as well. Secondly, the team is positioned to have over $30 million in salary cap room next summer to aggressively pursue free agents or trades. Lastly, young players on the roster such as Tobias Harris, Nikola Vucevic and Maurice Harkless have shown plenty of promise with extended minutes.
The schedule to start the season is a mixed bag. Ten of the Magic’s first 16 contests will be played at the comfy confines of the Amway center, however, the home schedule in November will include visits from Brooklyn, Los Angeles (Clippers), Dallas, Miami and San Antonio. The team’s stretch in December will also be tough to overcome with eight of the first nine games on the road to open the month. Road games versus New York, Houston, Memphis, Oklahoma City and Chicago will undoubtedly make it a tough stretch for the rebuilding Magic.
Article printed from HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors: http://www.hoopsworld.com
URL to article: http://www.hoopsworld.com/predicting-wins-for-nbas-southeast-division
Copyright © 2013 HOOPSWORLD | Basketball News & NBA Rumors
Part of the USA TODAY Sports Media Group.