This is going to be the most watched, scrutinised and talked about division in sports this year. Some guy named LeBron recently joined the Miami Heat. Not sure if you'd heard about it because it was kept under wraps pretty good. Nonetheless though, you have the new superteam in Miami, the former Eastern Conference champs in Orlando, a solid playoff team in Atlanta. Michael Jordan bought a team in Charlotte and helped them reach their first playoff series and don't forget the top overall pick in the draft this year went to the nations capital, Washington Wizards. But Miami will have the NBA's and the world's attention trying to see if they can top the Bulls 72-10 win mark set in 95-96. With such a loaded division, it's hard to see that happening but it sure will be fun watching them try.
SOUTHEAST DIVISION PREVIEW
Last Season : 47-35
Ins : F LeBron James, F Chris Bosh, C Zydrunas Ilgauskas, C Dexter Pittman, PF Jarvis Varnado, SF Da’Sean Butler, F Mike Miller,G Eddie House, F/C Juwan Howard, G/F Jerry Stackhouse
Outs : G Quentin Richardson, C Jermaine O’Neal, F Michael Beasley, F Dorell Wright, G Daquean Cook
What 2 Watch For : Injuries. This team has already had some injury concerns, D. Wade's hamstring, LeBrons hamstring, Mike Millers thumb. If this team can stay healthy and the role players can come in and provide valuable minutes they will be scary to watch. Scary good that is. Don't worry about cohesiveness and gelling. These guys are locked into winning, come crunch time look for whoever has the hot hand to take the final shot but the play will always be created and sometimes finished by LeBron. Pat Riley has done a commendable job in placing some role players around his three kings. Udonis Haslem is an X factor for this side. He brings the blue collar work ethic and drive that the second unit will need. There are too many good teams in the Southeast for Miami to get close to the Bulls record but they'll win this, and easily too.
Prediction : 1st 62-19
Last Season : 59-23
Ins : G Quentin Richardson, G Chris Duhon, C Daniel Orton
Outs : F Matt Barnes
What 2 Watch For : Dwight Howard's new offensive moves. The big knock on Howard has been his (lack) of offensive firepower and not having the diversity of post moves to demand the ball in the clutch. Enter Hakeem Olajuwon, one of the greatest post players of all time. Of all time!. Dwight spent time with 'The Dream' in the off season and was taught a few new ways of playing in the post. If he can utilise those he can make a serious push towards MVP and this Magic team will be dangerous. The one major weakness Miami has is at the center positon. Orlando's perimeter players match up well with Miami's but the big fella is going to have to step up if the Magic are to defeat the Heat. The loss of Barnes will hurt, he could defend and shoot the spot up 3's when Howard was double teamed. Q-Rich will look to take his role, a good shooter who should get a few open looks.
Prediction : 2nd 58-24
Last season : 53-29
Ins : F Josh Powell, G Jordan Crawford,
Outs : None
What 2 Watch For : Can the Hawks improve their record for yet another year? The team improved every year under former coach Mike Woodson but sadly this run may come to anend this year. The Hawks spent all their money in re-signing Joe Johnson which left their hands tied in pursuing other free agents. With pretty much the same roster going into another season it's hard to see how the same players who took a pasting from Orlando will get past the Miami Heat and the Magic. Jamal Crawford has hinted he may seek a trade if he is not offered a contract extension and the aquisition of Josh Powell in the off season is perplexing as the Hawks already have some depth at forward. They probably should have been looking for a point guard to help spell Mike Bibby. The team often struggled when he was not on the floor.
Prediction : 3rd 49-33
Last Season : 44-38
Ins : C Kwame Brown, G Shaun Livingston
Outs : C Tyson Chandler, G Raymond Felton
What 2 Watch For : Will Michael Jordan pull the trigger on a trade if this team starts of slow? They remained fairly quiet during the summer period except for bringing in former number one bust Kwame Brown which shocked more than a few observers. This team will struggle to make the playoffs again and if they do a first round loss is the best they can hope for. Mj may want to look for another center to bolster the squad and the PG duties have been handed to DJ Augustin who has been mentioned in some trade rumours. Ultimately, this team is the same as last years just in a much tougher division this time.
Prediction : 4th 41-41
Last Season : 26-56
Ins : F Yi Jianlian, G Kirk Hinrich, G John Wall
Outs : G Randy Foye, G Mike Miller
What 2 Watch For : This is a tie between John Wall and Gilbert Arenas. Wall because this is his team now and anyone who has seen Wall play knows he is going to be very, very good. Arenas has always been an enigma and his recent strange behaviour may give Wizards management the green light to try and trade their former All Star. Hinrich adds some quality and class with his steady approach and defence. If Yi matures a little more he can give the Wiz a solid 15 ppg. But all eyes will be on Wall. He should be good for an extra 10 wins just on his own. Any more than that and the Wiz still need to fill some pieces around him. Starting with a quality big man. It's a process, but they are on the way.
Prediction : 5th 38-44