Southeast Division Preview
1. Washington Wizards
Last season: 44-38 (2nd in the Southeast Division, 5th in the Eastern Conference)
Season ended: Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals against the Indiana Pacers
- DeJuan Blair – Sign and trade from the Dallas Mavericks
- Kris Humphries – Sign and trade from the Boston Celtics
- Paul Pierce – Free agent signing
- Trevor Ariza – Signed with the Houston Rockets
- Trevor Booker – Signed with the Utah Jazz
Season Preview – The young players for the Wizards finally started coming into their own last season. John Wall became an All-Star for the first time, and Bradley Beal showed signs of being one of the best 2-guards in the league. In addition, the acquisitions of Nene and Marcin Gortat have given this team an inside/outside balance that is one of the better ones in the league. The loss of Trevor Ariza may show itself more on the defensive end, but Pierce should be an adequate stop-gap as the Wizards wait on the development of Otto Porter. The only trip up I see with this team is perimeter depth. If Wall or Beal go down for any extended amount of time, this team could be in trouble.
2014-15 will be successful if: The Wizards make it to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Projected 2014-15 Record: 49-33
2. Charlotte Hornets
Last season: 43-39 (3rd in the Southeast Division, 7th in the Eastern Conference)
Season ended: Game 4 of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs against the Miami Heat.
- P.J. Hairston – Draft (No. 26 in the 2014 NBA Draft)
- Brian Roberts – Free agent signing
- Lance Stephenson – Free agent signing
- Noah Vonleh – Draft (No. 9 in the 2014 NBA Draft)
- Marvin Williams – Free agent signing
- Luke Ridnour – Signed with the Orlando Magic
- Josh McRoberts – Signed with the Miami Heat
- Anthony Tolliver – Signed with the Phoenix Suns
- Brendan Haywood – Traded to the Cleveland Cavaliers
- Chris Douglas-Roberts – Signed with the Los Angeles Clippers
Season Preview – The Hornets (formerly the Bobcats) come into this season with as high of expectations as they’ve ever had in their 10 year reincarnation. Michael Jordan and GM Rich Cho have slowly put together a balanced team that is built on defense. The key now will be developing the young talent they’ve obtained over the past 2 seasons, while also learning how to consistently win. Al Jefferson provides the Hornets with a go-to scorer, while Stephenson and Michael Kidd-Gilchrist will be nightmares on the defensive end for opposing wings. If the Hornets can find consistent scoring from the perimeter, they may be a surprise team in the East.
2014-15 will be successful if: The Hornets make it to the 2nd round of the playoffs.
Projected 2014-15 Record: 47-35
3. Miami Heat
Last season: 54-28 (1st in the Southeast Division, 2nd in the Eastern Conference)
Season ended: Game 5 loss in the 2014 NBA Finals against the San Antonio Spurs
- Luol Deng – Free agent signing
- Danny Granger – Free agent signing
- Josh McRoberts – Free agent signing
- Shabazz Napier – Draft (No. 24 in the 2014 NBA Draft)
- LeBron James – Signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers
- James Jones – Signed with the Cleveland Cavaliers
- Ray Allen – Unsigned
- Shane Battier – Retired
- Rashard Lewis – Signed with the Dallas Mavericks
- Toney Douglas – Signed overseas
- Michael Beasley – unsigned
Season preview – It was a good run, boys. The four year “Big 3” experiment yielded four consecutive trips to the Finals and two championships. “Not 1, not 2…” wait, yeah, only 2. LeBron James returning back to Cleveland has brought the Heat back down a notch or two on the NBA spectrum. While Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh are still in tow, the engine that made the team run is no longer there. The team that we’ve seen for the past four years will be completely different. No longer will the threat of a driving James cause defenses to collapse into the paint, leaving a plethora of wide open shooters. Instead, Miami will likely run its offense inside/out through Bosh. Gone are the shooters that provided that floor spacing for James and Wade to operate. And the lingering concern over Wade’s health still remains. The Heat will still win games, but there will be a significant drop-off from the previous four seasons.
2014-15 will successful if: The Heat make it to the Eastern Conference Finals
Projected 2014-15 Record: 44-38
4. Atlanta Hawks
Last season: 38-44 (4th in the Southeast Division, 8th in the Eastern Conference)
Season ended: Game 7 of the first round of the Eastern Conference playoffs against the Indiana Pacers
- Kent Bazemore – Free agent signing
- Adreian Payne – Draft (No. 15 in the 2014 NBA Draft)
- Thabo Sefolosha – Free agent signing
- Lou Williams – Traded to the Toronto Raptors
- Elton Brand – Unsigned
- Gustavo Ayon – Signed overseas
- Lucas Nogueira – Traded to the Toronto Raptors
Season preview – If there is a team in the league that wants the season to start already, it is the Atlanta Hawks. The offseason can be a cruel time for a team that is embroiled in controversy. The Bruce Levenson/Danny Ferry race fiasco is a situation that probably won’t be completely resolved until next season. On the court, Atlanta is one of those teams that’s always good enough to win more games than it should, but loses out on getting a good draft pick because of that. Al Horford returns after missing most of last season with a torn right pectoral muscle. Their front line of Horford, Pero Antic, and Paul Millsap will be one of the more dynamic front courts in the league. The addition of Sefolosha will help shore up the perimeter defensively, but will provide little from an offensive standpoint.
2014-15 will be successful if: The Hawks make it to the 2nd round of the playoffs.
Projected 2014-15 Record: 40-42
5. Orlando Magic
Last season: 23-59 (5th in the Southeast Division, 13th in the Eastern Conference)
Season ended: Last day of the regular season
- Evan Fournier – Obtained in a trade with the Denver Nuggets
- Channing Frye – Free agent signing
- Aaron Gordon – Draft (No. 4 in the 2014 NBA Draft)
- Ben Gordon – Free agent signing
- Willie Green – Claimed off waivers from the Los Angeles Clippers
- Elfrid Payton – Draft (No. 10 in the 2014 NBA Draft)
- Luke Ridnour – Free agent signing
- Jameer Nelson – Signed with the Dallas Mavericks
- Arron Afflalo – Traded to the Denver Nuggets
Season preview – The Magic are at the point in their rebuild where they need to decide on what to do with some of their young guys. Nikola Vucevic and Tobias Harris will be coming up on restricted free agency next offseason, with Andrew Nicholson, Maurice Harkless, and Fournier coming up with offseason after that. The Magic will probably be a big player at the trade deadline as they need to start moving some of their young pieces for either a big name player or assets. On the court, the Magic will continue to be an uptempo transition team, especially with Payton manning the point. Victor Oladipo will need to show improvement on his jump-shot, but Ben Gordon and Frye will provide some of the spacing Oladipo needs to operate. I see the Magic slightly improving, but still struggling to consistently win.
2014-15 will be successful if: The young guys continue to develop and the Magic end up with a Top 7 pick.
Projected 2014-15 Record: 26-56