The season is creeping in…here is a quick look at what lies in the Southeast Division.
The Wizards had a quiet offseason and come into 17/18 with an inconspicuousness about them. The team retains continuity with the core of John Wall, Bradley Beal, Marcin Gortat, Markieff Morris and Otto Porter ready to go at it again.
Kelly Oubre Jr. showed some good progress last season, where he doubled his minutes and his points per game from his rookie season. He also showed intensity and competitiveness, which definitely contributed to some great moments for the Wizards last season. If Oubre Jr. can take another step, it will be a big difference maker.
Washington picked up Mike Scott and Jodie Meeks in the offseason, to join Ian Mahinmi, Thomas Satoransky, Jason Smith and Tim Frazier in adding depth veteran support.
At the end of the day the Wiz should be playoff bound, however their success will be limited by Wall and Beal’s ability to carry and whether or not Porter and Oubre Jr can take their games to the next level.
The Hawks now belong to Kent Bazemore and Dennis Schroder, as the organization opted for a rebuild over the summer by letting go of former All Stars Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard.
They are starting from the ground up with solid young vets Schroder and Bazemore to lead the way for guys like Taurean Prince and 2017 first-round pick John Collins. Collins has a lot of potential as an athletic Forward-Center, while Prince showed potential at the Small Forward spot. Deandre’ Bembry, now a second year guard, will also get a chance to show what he can do.
The Hawks added balance to the floor with shooters Marco Belinelli, Langston Galloway and Luke Babbit. They also picked up Dewayne Dedmon, who had some great games at the Center position last season. Irsan Ilyasova gives them another versatile option and a good vet.
With the focus on youth, the Hawks do not have much to lose this season. The emphasis should be on developing a system. The line up seems to suit a fast-paced style of play, with lots of fluidity.
The Heat had a quiet offseason, but the acquisition of Kelly Olynyk and return of Justise Winslow could be all it takes for this team to take it to the next step.
They finished just a game out of the playoffs last year after a ridiculous stretch of 23 wins in 28 games, which was fueled by great play from guys like Dion Waiters, Goran Dragic, James Johnson and Hassan Whiteside, all of whom will be back this season.
Kelly Olynyk could fit wonderfully alongside Whiteside, or be a great energy guy off the bench. Meanwhile, last season Winslow was just starting to break out before he was shutdown with a shoulder injury. With him healthy the Heat have another scoring option and solid player at the wing.
Complimentary guys like, Rodney McGruder, Wayne Ellington, Tyler Johnson and Josh Richardson, all had some huge moments last season and definitely give Miami a sense of depth.
The Heat should be shooting for the stars this season, with no goal too lofty.
The Magic showed some great potential late last season, and with a few low-key offseason pickups, should be set to make a good push this season.
The returning core includes Elfrid Payton, Evan Fournier, Aaron Gordon, Nikola Vucevic, Terrence Ross, and Bismack Biyombo, while offseason pickups Jonathan Simmons, Marreese Speights, Arron Afflalo and Shelvin Mack add a mix of skill sets, as well as experience and youth.
Payton tallied five triple-doubles last season, along with many more similarly amazing outings. He could be on the verge of breaking out with a greater confidence and vision, entering his fourth season.
Ross and Simmons give the Magic a couple of SGs that can defend and score the ball, while BIG men Vuuch, Speights, Biyombo and AG provide lots of options down low.
The Magic should see an improvement on last season’s 29-53 record, but anything short of the playoffs might be disappointing.
The Hornets have gone through a couple of sub-par seasons, especially last season, where they started out strong and then went into a tail spin for the final 3/4 of the season. Nonetheless, the core is back to make amends.
The Hornets made a bit of a splash when they picked up Dwight Howard over the summer. Despite a few less-than-amazing seasons, the former defensive player of the year finds himself new life with the Hornets.
Kemba Walker and Nicolas Batum each ended up falling into droughts last season and will need to maintain at least a near-All-Star level of play throughout the season to lead their team anywhere worthwhile. Cody Zeller and Marvin Williams offer reliable front court support, along with Frank Kaminsky, who has proven himself in the NBA. Meanwhile, Jeremy Lamb and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist are a couple of high-potential guys, who still have time to break out.
Michael Carter-Williams, another offseason pickup, gives added depth at the PG, while rookie Malik Monk could very well rise to second on the depth chart.
If they can stay the course and make the playoffs this time, anything is possible for the Hornets.