NBA 2021 Southeast Division Preview

Story posted October 19, 2021 in Sports, CommRadio by Logan Bourandas

Overhauled by young talent, the Southeast division has the potential to be one of the more competitive divisions in the NBA this season. The Atlanta Hawks barely took home the division title as they edged out the Miami Heat by one game.

While the Hawks were able to capture their first division title since 2015, can they repeat? Let’s take a look at all five teams in the division as the NBA season tips off on Tuesday.

Atlanta Hawks

Let’s start off with the division champs.

The Hawks went on an unlikely run during the 2019-2020 season as they made it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals where they eventually fell to the Milwaukee Bucks in six games.

Compared to last year, the Hawks will feature basically the same team as last season.

Forward John Collins agreed to a five-year, $125 million dollar contract extension which will have him catching alley-oops from star point guard Trae Young for a while in Atlanta.

Young and center Clint Capela also received extensions to keep the main players in the Hawks core around for the time being.

There’s no reason why the Hawks can’t go on a similar run to the playoffs this season as the young stars on the roster continue to gel.

Miami Heat

After a disappointing first round sweep in last season’s playoffs, the Heat became one of the more active teams during the NBA offseason.

The big move was acquiring former Toronto Raptors guard Kyle Lowry in a sign-and-trade for guard Goran Dragic and forward Precious Achiuwa. Lowry should bring leadership and veteran experience to this Heat team as he just came off an NBA championship with the Raptors back in 2019.

Team president Pat Riley also made minor signings to boost the depth of the roster as forwards P.J. Tucker and Markieff Morris joined the team and guard Victor Oladipo was re-signed on a one-year deal.

The way this Miami Heat roster is constructed, recreating that surprise NBA Finals run in 2020 isn’t out of the question.

Washington Wizards

Following a first-round exit in the NBA playoffs, the Wizards enter the new season with arguably the most question marks out of any of these teams.

The Wizards quickly moved on from the Russell Westbrook experiment and traded him to the Los Angeles Lakers for guard Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, forward Kyle Kuzma, center Montrezl Harrell, and the 22nd overall pick.

All three are reliable role players but will likely not match the value brought by Westbrook, especially at the end of last season.

Guard Spencer Dinwiddie was also acquired from the Brooklyn Nets after missing all of last season with a partial ACL tear.

The Wizards have depth to surround star Bradley Beal, but the question remains if that will be enough to convince him to stick around in the nation's capital.

Charlotte Hornets

While the Hornets fell victim to the new play-in-tournament last season, the future looks bright in Charlotte.

Reigning Rookie of the Year LaMelo Ball leads an exciting group of young players looking to take the next step this season.

The Hornets didn’t lose much this past offsesaon, with guards Devonte Graham and Malik Monk being the most notable names to go. Kelly Oubre should help replace the production of those two as he was brought in on a two-year deal after playing last season with the Golden State Warriors.

Guard Terry Rozier was given a four-year contract extension after averaging over 20 points per game last season as well.

Charlotte remains in a good spot to compete both for this season and long term as long as the young talent continues to develop.

Orlando Magic

The Magic completely overhauled their roster at the trade deadline last season as they said goodbye to stars such as Nikola Vucevic, Aaron Gordon and Evan Fournier.

To replace those players, the Magic looked to the NBA Draft as they had two top-10 picks to use. Guard Jalen Suggs and forward Franz Wagner join one of the younger teams in the NBA this season as the Magic continue to rebuild.

Last season, it was rookie guard Cole Anthony and mid-season acquisition Wendell Carter Jr. who led the way for the Magic.

Anthony showed flashes of being a top point guard while Carter Jr. played well enough during his 22 games in Orlando to earn a four-year $50 million dollar extension.

That production followed the season ending injury of guard Markelle Fultz who only played eight games last season but looks to be back at full strength.

While it may take a while until the Magic start competing, the team has potential to take a big leap after last season’s collapse.

 

Logan Bourandas is a third-year majoring in broadcast journalism. To contact him, email lxb5412@psu.edu.