Thursday , Oct , 23 , 2008 Christopher Sells

HoopsVibe Season Preview: Southeast Division


HoopsVibe Season Preview: Southeast DivisionWith the NBA season getting ready to start up, we thought we should take a brief glimpse at the league, division by division, just so you guys have an idea of what to expect this year. However, we will not stand by any of these predictions come season’s end. Unless we’ve actually managed to get them right.

Anything that happens in this division will probably hinges on what teams manage to keep their players off of the injury report.

Take Washington for example. Gilbert Arenas is already on the shelf for the first two months of the season while Brendan Haywood could miss the entire season after surgery on his wrist. Antawn Jamison had a scare with his knee earlier this preseason that had Wiz fans holding their breath, hoping that they’d be able to put at least one of their Big Three on the court come Opening Night. This team has always had talent, but something always seems to pop up to keep them from reaching their potential.

Atlanta has taken steps to add some depth to their team since they already had a thin rotation and Josh Childress defected to Greece, but you have to wonder if it will be enough. Joe Johnson, Mike Bibby, Josh Smith and Al Horford are quality players but the Hawks don’t have much behind them if anything happens to those four. Of course, for a team that only won 37 games last season but managed to push the eventual champion Celtics to seven games in the playoffs, it’s hard to predict exactly what you’ll get when they take the court.

One of the more consistent teams in the division is the Magic. Last year’s division winner produced 52 wins and the Most Improved Player in Hedo Turkoglu. While they have probably the best team in the Southeastern, they are a bit undersized, with Rashard Lewis logging minutes at power forward which means they might have trouble going too far in the playoffs. Dwight Howard is still beasting in the middle, though he could stand some work refining his offensive game and that free throw shooting. And point guard is a questionable position.

Miami shares that same problem. With Jason Williams’ retirement, the Heat will look to Chris Quinn, Shaun Livingston and Mario Chalmers to run the team. Quinn’s talent, Livingston’s knee and Chalmers’ decision making aren’t things that you can necessarily count on, though. On the bright side, Dwyane Wade looks to be healthy again and showed during the Olympics that he should be back his old self. Michael Beasley should be a decent player, if you can put aside his MVP dreams and if Pat Riley, er, Erik Spoelstra lets him off the bench.

Larry Brown is another coach who likes to keep young players on the bench. With an average age of 24 years old, the Bobacats should give him the challenge of a lifetime. There’s plenty of talent on the roster– namely Gerald Wallace, Jason Richardson, Raymond Felton and Emeka Okafor– but Brown-coached teams seem to get worse before they get better. This year will probably be no different. But the future looks promising, as the team has on one player aged 30 or above.

PROJECTED ORDER OF FINISH:
1. Orlando
2. Washington
3. Miami
4. Atlanta
5. Charlotte

What do you predict? We’d love to hear from you in the comments section.

[image: http://www.flickr.com/photos/mattlehrer/]