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Last year, the Southeast didn't give us the best competition in the league. Only two teams made the playoffs last year but they were ousted in the first round and the rest of the division gave us some of the worst records in the NBA. How are they gonna do this year, though?
The Hawks were the worst team in the East last year and I expect them to be even worse this year. They’re in rebuilding mode but currently don’t have much to work with. With their best player Dennis Schröder leaving, they don't have a main scoring option, ball handler, or leader. The Hawks hope to find that replacement in Trae Young, but I don't think it'll happen in his rookie year. Trae has lots of potential but he will need to step it up a lot to make this team better. His summer league play wasn't as good as they hoped it would be, so unless he plays like Jordan, they won't be going anywhere this year.
The Hawks do have a few bright spots in them like Taurean Prince, John Collins, and Dewayne Dedmon and they also added some vets like Vince Carter and Jeremy Lin. Vince is old and his play won't be of much value to them, but his leadership and experience will be. Same goes for Jeremy Lin. These two will be good mentors for this young team. However, this team definitely won't make the playoffs anytime soon and expect them to have the worst record in the East, if not the NBA.
Prediction: 20-25 wins. Miss the playoffs.
I don’t see the Hornets doing so hot this next year. I actually had a lot of hopes for them last year. Hearing Kemba Walker and Dwight Howard team up sounded awesome but then I remembered that Dwight is old and washed up and wasn’t surprised at the result. Even though he is washed up, losing him still hurts the team. Now they've gotta rely on Cody Zeller and Frank Kaminsky to play the big spot.
Kemba just needs more help. Even with good role players like Nic Batum, Marvin Williams, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, and Jeremy Lamb, he needs more help. Those players play good roles but aren’t gonna be what Kemba really needs.
Tony Parker will be a good mentor for Kemba and hopefully he can improve his game a lot learning from the vet. Either way, I don't see much success out of this Charlotte team, but still a big fight, unless Kemba gets some help soon.
Prediction: 30-35 wins. Miss the playoffs.
I like this Miami Heat team. Even with Goran Dragic making the All-star team, they don't have a specific star player. Everyone on the team just works well together and has great chemistry. The players fit well in the system and Erik Spoelstra proves that he's actually a good coach. I used to think that the only reason people talked about him was because of LeBron, D-Wade, and Bosh, but he proved me wrong. Very wrong.
James Johnson, Justise Winslow, Josh Richardson, Kelly Olynyk, Wayne Ellington, and Bam Adebayo all play huge roles for this team. And with Dion Waiters coming back, it'll be a big help, too. This team is the definition of team basketball.
The only concern I have is Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside has always been kind of overrated but he was a good 5 to have on the team. But in the last playoffs, the man completely disappeared and hurt the team. If this next year he doesn't step up, the Heat need to make some moves. If he plays his role right, he can score and protect the rim EXTREMELY well, but if not, he hurts this team.
Without any major moves this year, though, I see the Heat staying in the same spot as they were last year: fighting to make the playoffs and giving the other teams a run for their money, but still being eliminated first round.
Prediction: 40-45 wins. 7 seed.
The Orlando Magic are not a good team. They're too young and have no experience or leadership. The best player I'd say they have is Aaron Gordon, who is not a bad player, but is a younger, not-as-good Blake Griffin. Aaron Gordon is gonna plateau like Blake did unless he gets some help real fast. Evan Fournier, Nikola Vucevic, and Jonathon Simmons are great players too but don't bring enough for this Magic team.
The only real hope they have is adding Mo Bamba in the draft. I don't see Bamba being a scoring threat but he can be a really strong rim protector for the Magic. Hopefully he lives up to what's expected of him, because if not, this Magic team is gonna look really different really soon. They need to make moves.
Prediction: 25-30 wins. Miss the playoffs.
I'm excited to watch this Washington team this upcoming year. I've always thought John Wall and Bradley Beal were fun to watch, but they never improved. Both All-stars but the team got the same results each year, but this year, they made some good moves. Adding Dwight Howard and Jeff Green were really good. Dwight may be old and washed up, but I expect him to be a better replacement for Marcin Gortat, especially with his recommitment to become better. With Jeff Green and Markieff Morris as the 4 spot, I like this team.
Otto Porter and Kelly Oubre have bright futures too. Otto Porter is underrated and he can space the floor and play well. Oubre has got some good defense and will do a good job on the perimeter. Another pickup I like is Austin Rivers, who will be a good backup behind John Wall.
The only real concern I have for this team is the chemistry between Wall and Beal. They haven't exactly been the best of friends, but I think that if they really want to win, they're gonna put that in the past and play well together. If Wall and Beal can't perform well together, then eventually one of the two will be moved, and losing either one will hurt the team.
Expect a good fight out of this team this year. I'm excited to see.
Prediction: 45-50 wins. 5 seed.