Upon closer look at this year’s NBA Southeast preview and you will see that aside from the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic, there’s lots of young talent but no major threats to challenge the status quo in the Eastern Conference. Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat are -125 favorites to win the Southeast this season.
The Heat are seeking their seventh NBA Southeast crown in the last decade. The Orlando Magic won the Southeast last season with a 42-40 record. The Miami Heat and Charlotte Hornets bubbled the playoffs with a 39-43 record. Coming into the final two weeks of the season, all three teams were fighting for the division title and the #8 seed. Only the Magic advanced to the postseason last year.
The NBA Southeast is not a division that will give am opponent a nightmare. Once you get past the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic, the Southeast lacks playoff teams. Depending on which preview you read, the Southeast division champion might be the only team to qualify for the NBA playoffs this season.
2019 SOUTHEAST DIVISION ODDS:
Miami Heat -125
Orlando Magic +130
Atlanta Hawks +750
Washington Wizards +10000
Charlotte Hornets +20000
The Heat are the favorites to win the Southeast division but the Orlando Magic are not far behind at +130. The consensus in every preview seems to be that the team that ends up over .500 will win the division, while the second place team in the Southeast will bubble the NBA playoffs once again.
If the Atlanta Hawks decide to actually play to win this season, their young squad offers up the best value play at +750.
Without Kemba Walker, the Charlotte Hornets are an astronomical shot to win the NBA title.
Feel the Heat, Jimmy
The Miami Heat (39-43) finished in third place in the Southeast last year after failing to land Jimmy Butler in a trade after the Minnesota Timberwolves shipped him to the Philadelphia Sixers. This time around, the Heat did not miss out on Butler and they begin the season with a bona fide superstar as the centerpiece of their roster.
After a brief layover in Philly, Butler (18.2 ppg) finally joins the team in South Beach that includes Goran Dragic (13.7), Kelly Olynyk (10.0 ppg), and Bam Adebayo (8.9 ppg), Justise Winslow (12.6 ppg), Dion Waiters (12.0 ppg), and rookie Tyler Herro from Kentucky. The addition of Butler makes the Miami Heat the best option to win the division. The team will need more help if they expect to go deep in the playoffs, but for now, Jimmy Butler will get the Heat back on track.
Dwyane Wade retired at the end of last season. The Heat also lost leading scorer Josh Richardson (16.6 ppg) to Philly and center Hassan Whiteside (12.3 ppg, 11.3 rebounds) headed out west to Portland.
Projection: Miami 46-36
Do You Believe in Magic?
The Orlando Magic (42-40) ended last season on a positive note winning 8 out of their final 10 games to secure a division title, which could offer a preview of what’s to come in the Southeast this year.
Center Nikola Vucevic (20.8 ppg, 12.0 rebounds) made his first All-Star team last year. Aaron Gordon (16.0 ppg) is a capable #2 behind Vucevic. Evan Fournier (15.1 ppg) and Terrence Ross (15.1 ppg) were the Magic sharpshooters. Orlando has a solid bench with Michael-Carter Williams, Mo Bamba, and free agent acquisition Al-Farouq Aminu.
The Magic are also gambling on former #1 pick Markelle Fultz and his mysterious injuries after pulling the trigger on a trade with the Philly Sixers.
Projection: Orlando 43-39
The tanking Atlanta Hawks (29-53) were the third-worst team last season and used their picks to draft De’Andre Hunter and Cam Reddish. The Hawks lost Taurean Prince and Kent Bazemore, but they added Jabari Parker (15.0 ppg) in free agency.
John Collins (19.5 ppg, 9.8 rebounds) led the Hawks in scoring, but Trae Young (19.1 ppg, 8.1 assists) dazzled fans during an auspicious rookie season. Vince Carter returns for yet another season but the Hawks are a couple legit free agents away from playoff contention. At least they will be fun to watch with Young and Collins.
Projected: Atlanta 36-56
The wheels fell off the bus in Washington last year after their star players did not get along. At least they tried to save face by finally firing GM Ernie Grunfeld after 16 long seasons.
Bradley Beal (25.6 ppg) is one of the best scorers in the NBA, but it’s a shame he plays for a bad franchise that has a chance to be one of the worst teams in the league in 2019-20. John Wall is still recovering from an Achilles tear and might miss the entire season. The Wiz drafted Rui Hachimura from Gonzaga and Admiral Schonfield from Tennessee.
Projection: Washington 28-54
Gloom in CLT
If it were not for the Charlotte Hornets and their commitment to finish dead last, the Wizards would be the bottom feeders in the Southeast. With Kemba Walker, the Hornets were a bad team that was fun to watch. Without Kemba Walker, they’re just a bad team. On the upside, the Hornets have young players Malik Monk and Miles Bridges. They also drafted rookie PJ Washington out of Kentucky.
It’s sad to think that Michael Jordan won an NCAA title and multiple NBA championships, but as an owner he can barely put together a playoff caliber team. Maybe GM Mitch Kupchak can turn things around for MJ and the Hornets? If you let the UNC Tar Heels play instead of the Hornets, they would probably win more games.
Projection: Charlotte 25-57
If you enjoyed the NBA Southeast Preview, check out more 2019 NBA divisional previews.