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NBA: 2016-17 Southeast Division preview

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Miami Heat

This may come as a surprise to most, but Miami flat out had close to the worst off-season of almost anybody in the league this summer. We start by Joe Johnson signing a very affordable deal with the Utah Jazz, pair that with the departure of Luol Deng taking a money grab going to the Lakers. Matching Tyler Johnson’s offer that Brooklyn made it so unattractive on purpose for a team not to match, But, Pat Riley did anyway. Last but not least Dwayne Wade that will have a statue outside Miami very soon. He bolted for Chicago only because of a few million dollar difference in contracts.

Last but not least, Dwayne Wade that will have a statue outside Miami very soon. He bolted for Chicago only because of a few million dollar difference in contracts. So, Pat Riley, you’re telling me you would rather have a terrible contract with an unproven young player in Tyler Johnson than Wade on a contract he deserves to ride off into the sunset with? This makes Riley so delusional he must believe My Little Pony are real characters.  With this move I fully expect attendance to plummet due to Miami fans already wept so many tears over Wade gone that it would be too hard even to look at this team the same.

For the record, I like Hassan Whiteside he does a ton of positive things on the floor on both ends. It was easy to give him the contract he deserves, the only thing he doesn’t possess is being a team leader where he can unite your team and pull you through the tough times that an 82 game season can provide. He is a stats guy that plays terrific post defense, but that doesn’t translate into a franchise altering player.

This team has a glaring hole in that department now with the exit of Wade. On the bright side, this team has an excellent young, dynamic duo that this team has desperately needed to make fans believe they have hope in the future to compete in Justice Winslow & Josh Richardson.

The panel of (one) foresees this team to be a big disappointment with the combination of Bosh with a big uncertainty of returning to his old self and the prediction of a trade deadline deal to dumb Goran Dragic’s contract to get back some future picks that Miami dealt to receive him. This will translate to a last-place finish in the division and a record of 32-50. Hey, at least Tyler Johnson will get playing time this season that is something to look forward too. Said no Heat fan ever.

Washington Wizards

Let’s start with the elephant in the room when it comes to this roster and that would be Bradley Beal. Armed with a newly minted five year, 127 million dollar contract extension. This is similar to what DeMar DeRozan received from the Raptors where I touched on in a previous article.

This situation with Beal is interesting. He can do everything on the floor on offense except play consistent defense, actually which is common in young players who are really good shooters, but the most important thing about this situation compared to DeRozan is that Beal can’t stay healthy and continues to miss games on a constant basis. On top of that, he and franchise player John Wall don’t see eye to eye. Watch out; this can turn into a ticking time bomb that would want Wall to force himself out of town.

The hiring of Scott Brooks will help get this team back on defense for once. Otto Porter Jr. and Marcin Gortat will benefit the most from the coaching move on the defensive end. Let’s see if Porter Jr can come into his own this season and look like a complete all-around player the Wizards drafted with the third pick in the 2013 draft. It’s a harsh reality that it can be possible if this team misses the playoffs like last season that John Wall leaving the Wizards talk could ramp up.

This guy is simply too talented to be held back by a roster that needs to improve fast. Can a team like New Orleans make anybody on their roster available except for Anthony Davis?? This could entice Washington enough so Wall & Davis can be paired together and create a pick & roll monster that would be just unstoppable. This team will underachieve and barely miss out on the #8 seed in the playoffs with a record of 37-45 causing some upheaval in the front office that is long overdue.

Orlando Magic

First things first, Orlando has an intriguing young roster that can light up opponents on any given night. With a coach you can get behind in Frank Vogel fans believe they have a chance of not folding like a tent when a close game situation comes up. Look for Serge Ibaka to finally become a leader in the locker room that the Magic are hoping for him to provide for this young and talented roster.

Look out for Mario Hezonja to become a player that receives more minutes off the bench behind Evan Fournier and become the scorer this team needs. Especially with a jump shot that is stellar and a midrange game that opposing shooting guards have to respect and not go under screens to give Hezonja an open look.

The Magic need to wake up and realize they need to put Aaron Gordon as the starting power forward and start Ibaka at center.  Then have newly signed Bismack Biyombo finger wag his way to 25 minutes a night and provide a defensive force him & Ibaka combined can give you.

Do you see Nikola Vucevic fitting into this lineup??

Trade Vucevic to Washington for Otto Porter Jr, take on a bad Wizards contract and a future first-round pick, and you have yourself a trade to fit both team’s needs.  With this team, 1 year away, expect a fight for that #8 seed but just fall short due to a 39-43 record.

Charlotte Hornets

Coming off a successful 2015-2016 campaign and giving the Miami Heat a very good fight in the first round of the playoffs. We should expect this Hornets team to make back into the playoffs. Unlike, Bradley Beal’s contract Nicolas Batum’s contract makes sense for this team, and he is worth every penny of the extension he received in the offseason. The departures of Jeremy Lin and Al Jefferson will show some signs of depth problems. No need to fear, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is fully healthy and ready to play terrific perimeter defense and show off his moves getting to the rim at an above average rate.

This is one of the first times in years most can say that Michael Jordan is doing things right. Re-signing Marvin Williams to a team friendly deal was a nice move considering he came off one of the best seasons of his career. Follow that up with trading a late 1st round pick in the draft to pick up a veteran in Belinelli is a small but smart move that will pay dividends for 3pt shooting off the bench. Sprinkle in an expected All-star selection for Kemba Walker and you have yourself a 42-40 record good enough to make the playoffs and the #8 seed.

Atlanta Hawks

Despite having an offseason where the Hawks said goodbye to the backbone of the team in Al Horford. The Hawks signed hometown kid Dwight Howard to a 3yr 70m deal to replace Horford at center. This does change the dynamic of the offense head coach Mike Budenholzer wants to run, to compensate for that Howard’s rebounding and post defense he provides will be a welcoming sight for a team that has excellent perimeter defenders already.

Expect this defense to continue to take over games much like last season when they had a top 10 defense. The signing of Kent Bazemore was the right move to do regardless of how high the price tag was for him. Having a versatile player that can play both ends of the floor, is a team player and an improved shooter on the perimeter is a hot commodity in today’s NBA and the Hawks got this deal right.

The Hawks are banking on the play of Dennis Schroder so much to the point where Jeff Teague was expendable and rightfully so. Schroder is ready to carry the load at point guard for this club. Schroder possesses the quickness, experience, defensive ability and getting to the rim at a high rate to have Hawks fans forget about the Jeff Teague era. Expect the Hawks to finish the season with a 46-36 record good for 5th in the East and the Southeast division title.

Robert D. Cobb
Founder, Publisher and CEO of INSCMagazine. Works have appeared and featured in places such as Forbes, Huffington Post, ESPN and NBC Sports to name a few. Follow me on Twitter at @RobCobb_INSC, email me at robert.cobb@theinscribermag.com