NBA Eastern Conference Predictions: Southeast Division
by Josh Nagel - 10/16/2009
Here are some NBA predictions for the 2009-10 season, with a team-by-team look at the Eastern Conference Southeast Division.
Team: Orlando Magic
Last year's record: 59-23, 49-32-1 ATS
Odds: +700 (NBA championship), +425 (Eastern Conference)
Key transactions: Acquired guard Vince Carter and forwards Brandon Bass and Matt Barnes.
Orlando Magic Predictions: For a team that reached the NBA Finals, the Magic sure did a lot of off-season tinkering. Coach Stan Van Gundy and the Magic had better hope they made the right moves. Although Rafer Alston and Hedo Turkoglu were valuable contributors, losing Courtney Lee in the trade for Vince Carter could be the move that haunts the Magic. Lee showed a nice scoring touch and solid defense in his rookie year; at times, he looked like the second coming of Richard Hamilton, facemask and all. In Carter, the Magic get an aging star who is big on dunking and posing, but has done little in the way of clutch performances throughout his career. But apparently the Magic's brass liked Carter over the alternatives. He is sure to be the "X" factor alongside Dwight Howard for the Magic, who also picked up a few other role players who should fit in well. Bass is a relentless rebounder and solid mid-range shooter, while Barnes helps in the open-court game and with perimeter shooting.
Prediction: 54-28, first place.
Team: Miami Heat
Last year's record: 43-39, 40-40-2 ATS
Odds: +3800 (NBA), +1800 (conference)
Key transactions: Acquired guards Quentin Richardson and Carlos Arroyo.
Miami Heat Predictions: A healthy Dwyane Wade turned the Heat from the league's worst team back into a playoff contender. Although Wade showed just how much difference one player can make, the Heat still need to supplement him with talent in order to take the next step. They started by adding forward Jermaine O'Neal late in the season, and will benefit from having a full year of his services. Richardson adds another proven scorer in the backcourt, and Arroyo provides athleticism. Udonis Haslem remains one of the game's underrated talents, and the Heat will need Michael Beasley to overcome some of his recent personal problems and perform like a No.2 overall draft pick.
Prediction: 50-32, second place.
Team: Atlanta Hawks
Last year's record: 47-35, 43-38-1 ATS
Odds: +4500 (NBA), +2300 (conference)
Key transactions: Acquired guards Jamal Crawford and Juan Dixon.
Atlanta Hawks Predictions: This could be a defining season for coach Mike Woodson and the Hawks. They are no longer just a nice team loaded with potential. Stars such as Josh Smith and Al Horford can now be considered NBA veterans, and it's time for the Hawks to make the most of their talent. Last year was seen as a step back by many observers who expected the Hawks to perhaps go deep in the playoffs. Instead, they were swept by the Cavaliers in the second round. Although this team has a wealth of talent, it suffers from inconsistency. Others need to step up and support Joe Johnson, the team's marquee player, and the Hawks could use more discipline. Crawford is a proven scorer who should take pressure off Johnson, but he also can turn into a shoot-first ball hog who takes the offense out of rhythm.
Prediction: 46-36, third place.
Team: Charlotte Bobcats
Last year's record: 35-47, 46-36 ATS
Odds: +10000 (NBA), +5500 (conference)
Key transactions: Acquired guard Ronald Murray and center Tyson Chandler.
Charlotte Bobcats Predictions: The Bobcats made one of the shrewder yet unheralded moves last season when they traded erratic shooting guard Jason Richardson for Boris Diaw and Raja Bell. Immediately, they got two needed starters who can both score, and a proven defensive stopper in Bell. Evidently coach Larry Brown lost patience with Emeka Okafor and traded him for Tyson Chandler, even though Okafor averaged 13 points and 10 rebounds per game. Chandler is more athletic, but it stands to reason the Bobcats will miss Okafor's solid production. D.J. Augustin is emerging as a sound point guard to complement Raymond Felton at the position. The Bobcats have enough talent to make the next step and reach the playoffs this year.
Prediction: 44-38, fourth place.
Team: Washington Wizards
Last year's record: 19-63, 31-49-2 ATS
Odds: +6000 (NBA), +3500 (conference)
Key transactions: Acquired guards Randy Foye and Mike Miller.
Washington Wizards Predictions: The season-ending injury to Gilbert Arenas spelled the beginning of the end for the Wizards, who also lost several others to the injury bug throughout the year. Even so, this team should not be as bad as last year's record suggests. When Arenas is healthy, he combined with Antawn Jamison and Caron Butler to give the Wizards three All-Star caliber players. Offseason pick-ups Foye and Miller give the Wizards added depth, and Miller in particular is a versatile talent who should help out a lot. Flip Saunders is the veteran coach charged with turning things around, and he could be in a lot worse shape than to inherit this talented roster.
Prediction: 40-42, fifth place.
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