NBA Preview: Southeast Division

Story posted October 29, 2013 in Sports, CommRadio by Zach Lacher

Orlando Magic

Last season: 20-62

Entering their 2013-14 campaign, the Magic are looking to bounce back after finishing last in the division last season which gave them a prime spot in the NBA. Orlando took full advantage of their number two overall selection taking Victor Oladipo the 6-4 shooting guard out of the University of Indiana.

The Magic didn’t make any big splashes in free agency but they signed veterans such as Jason Maxiell and Ronnie Price to add some depth and leadership to their roster. Although things don’t look bright for this season, they do have some things to look forward to for years to come, with a lot of young players and only four players on their opening night roster exceeding the age of 30. This team will struggle this season but will make big steps in moving forward to have a playoff contending team.

Charlotte Bobcats

Last season: 21-61

Unfortunately there is no way to sugar coat it, but the Bobcats have to do something with their franchise this season, or else things might take even a bigger turn for the worst. Putting it in perspective, the Bobcats in the past two seasons have had three coaches and 120 losses. And between the past three drafts the Bobcats only have Cody Zeller, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and Kemba Walker to show for it. Walker and Kidd-Gilchrist were picked as consecutive first-round picks to the foundation for the future of this franchise.

And thus far that combination has not produced quality results. A change is definitely needed in Charlotte. Whether it’s by means of moving pieces such as Walker or Kidd-Gilchrist for a star or quality draft picks.

Washington Wizards

Last season: 29-53 (missed playoffs)

Washington this could be the year! That’s right, all the years of being the overrated laughing stock of the Eastern Conference might be over. This team is coming into the season with the potential to possibly make a legitimate playoff push, providing certain players play up to and above their potential. Finally the Wizards might be relevant in the east with having an arsenal of young talent that is just waiting to break out of the noose that’s held them down in the conference. Players such as point guard John Wall who just re-signed with Washington with a 5-year 80 million dollar deal, after posting a season of 18.5 PPG and 7.6 AST in his 2012-13 campaign.

The Wizards also have second year shooting guard Bradley Beal who was picked with the third pick in last year’s draft and dropped 13.9 PPG and shot 41% from the field in his rookie season. The Wizards also took small forward Otto Porter Jr., with the third pick in this year’s draft and acquired center Marcin Gortat from the Phoenix Suns, which will allow last year’s center Nene to move back to his natural position at power forward. The Wizards have potential with their combination of young and veteran talent to shock the basketball world and make a run.

Atlanta Hawks

Last season: 44-38 (6th seed in eastern conference)

The Atlanta Hawks always seem like the team who is always on the cusp of making a deep playoff run but never seem to have what it takes to take the next step. The Hawks have made the playoffs the past six consecutive seasons but they have failed to make it past the eastern conference semifinal in that span.

This season the Hawks will display a slightly different squad after losing key players in free agency such as forward Josh Smith signing with the Detroit Pistons and Devin Harris to the Dallas Mavericks. But the Hawks didn’t just sit around and dilly-dally; they went out on the free agent market and signed free agent Paul Millsap who averaged 14.6 PPG and 7.1 RPG with the Utah Jazz and re-signed point guard Jeff Teague along with sharp shooting small forward Kyle Korver. With also have All-Star center Al Horford already locked up the Hawks will have a solid core of players to embark on this season’s journey and for their sake look to make it past the second round of the playoffs.

Miami Heat

Last season: 66-16 (won NBA title)

THREE-PEAT! That’s the only thing on the minds of the Miami Heat and “Heat Nation,” going into the upcoming season. The elusive three-peat is a feat that has only been conquered by only three franchises in NBA history. Miami looks to join the Minneapolis and Los Angeles Lakers along with the Boston Celtics to be the exclusive list of teams to win the NBA title three consecutive seasons. A goal that is very much especially when the Heat posses arguably the best player in the world in LeBron James who has won the NBA MVP the past four of five seasons and back-to-back Finals MVPs.

Along with Dwayne Wade who if he stays healthy still has enough in the tank to be most of the Dwayne Wade we knew during the Heat’s 2004-05 title year where Wade won the Finals MVP. By exercising Mike Miller’s amnesty clause Heat were to able to retain most of their key role players by resigning center Chris “Birdman,” Andersen, long time three-point sharp shoot shooting Ray Allen opted into the last year of his deal, and the Heat were able to pick up their team option on starting point guard Mario Chalmers.

They went out and got Greg Oden, the seven foot center who is coming off multiple micro fracture knee surgeries and hasn’t played since the 2009-10 season. If he’s healthy he adds a big piece to the Heat frontcourt off the bench.

Also the former 2008 second overall pick and small forward, Michael Beasley signed with the Heat this offseason. Keeping an solid all-around team in basically all aspects. Unfortunately LeBron James, Dwayne Wade, and Chris Bosh all have early opt out clauses in their contracts that they can exercise at the end of this season if any or all members of the big three have a desire to test the free agent market. Lots of teams will be making sales pitches to these men as bait in hope to lure them away from Miami and possibly break up the empire Pat Riley has built in South Beach. With that being said, be sure to watch out for Miami to yet again make yet another run at the Larry O’Brien Trophy.

Zachary Lacher is a senior studying broadcast journalism. To contact him, email zjl5023@psu.edu.