The Southeast Division might be too close to call this year, and is definitely loaded with talent. In order to predict how the division will shake out and who the stars will be, let’s first take a look at what teams call the Southeast division home.
Atlanta Hawks: In the past five years or so, Hot-Lanta has been the definition of average. They went to the Eastern Conference Semifinals a couple years ago, but that’s it. They never seem to get over the top. The departure of their all-around best player, Josh Smith, definitely hurt them, but his time was clearly done there. They added a very sound and hardworking Paul Millsap who should fit nicely with Al Horford. Other than that, the Hawks don’t offer much more.
Charlotte Bobcats: An improvement in any way, shape, or form would be nice for Charlotte. They’ve been the laughing stock of the league for about the last three years. It would be nice to see their young guys provide some excitement for their fans. With the addition of All-Star big man Al Jefferson, they shouldn’t be as devastating as they’ve recently been. With that being said, their expectations continue to be considerably low.
Orlando Magic: This team isn’t built to win now; they’re planning for the future. The regular season is a time to develop their young players such as rookie Victor Oladipo, center Nikola Vucevic, and forward Tobias Harris. Orlando has one of the youngest rosters in the league which can be a good thing but that doesn’t always mean the future is bright. One thing that does currently impress me about the Magic is the fantasy numbers their players are capable of putting up.
Washington Wizards: John Wall just signed a maximum deal. We’ll see if he can carry them to the promised land within the next five years. I do like this Wizard team and the direction they’re headed. They are building well for the future while having the talent to be a borderline playoff team. They need help at power forward and center, though. Emeka Okafor’s impact has been minimal lately and Nene has had trouble staying healthy.
So I guess that’s it. Atlanta and Washington will battle for the division…oh, wait a second.
I only put four teams?
Oh, that’s right! The Miami Heat are in this division.
My Southeast Division All-Star team is as follows:
PG: John Wall (WSH)
As I previously mentioned, the Wizards just signed Wall to a big contract, meaning they trust him to be their main franchise piece. Wall, himself, has no shortage of confidence as he said he thinks he’s the best point guard in the league. That definitely isn’t the case, but that doesn’t mean he can’t be someday. His lighting quick speed and ability to finish at the hoop makes him an All-Star caliber player and also opens up the court for his teammates. He’ll need to keep improving his jumpshot to take his game to the next level. Wall is progressing well at his age and should keep climbing up the ladder.
SG: Dwyane Wade (MIA)
Wade has been the best shooting guard in this division since his sophomore year in the league (T-Mac traded from Orlando to Houston). He’s also been the best shooting guard in the Eastern Conference for quite some time. Wade deserves all the respect he gets. The young D-Wade was a warrior and won Finals MVP in 2006. Still, no shooting guard in this division has a skill-set near Wade’s, although Orlando rookie Victor Oladipo is often compared to a young D-Wade. Maybe he becomes the shooting guard on this divisional All-Star team in the next two years or so.
SF: LeBron James (MIA)
James, Wade, and Bosh were introduced as the “Big Three” when they entered Miami. Although Wade has done a very good job, it has been more of “LeBron and the players around him.” Wade’s had his great playoff performances but everyone knows this team’s success starts and ends with LeBron James.
PF: Al Jefferson (CHA)
Sorry, Chris Bosh, but I don’t feel you make the cut here. Maybe as the sixth man, but we’ll find that out later on.
Al Jefferson is a great big man who’s been under-appreciated his whole career. He’s excellent on the boards, highly effective in the post, and has a consistent mid-range jumper. Big Al has career averages of 19.3 points, 10.5 rebounds, and 1.6 blocks per 36 minutes. Expect him to be right around those averages this year as a focal point on Charlotte’s offense.
C: Al Horford (ATL)
Horford has developed into one of the finest bigs in the game. Although he isn’t a true center, he pulls down enough rebounds to play the position. Much of Horford’s offensive production comes from mid-range jumpers, where he can be deadly. Neither Jefferson or Horford would make this the best defensive team. However, both know how to create separation with their bodies to battle with a Dwight Howard or Marc Gasol. Horford made a big improvement last year and may be expected to lead Atlanta to another postseason appearance this year.
Sixth Man: Chris Bosh (MIA)
Bosh obviously doesn’t make the same impact he did on Toronto, but I believe he’s still capable of being a number one option if his team asked that of him. Bosh is probably a better defender than both Horford and Jefferson because of his length, allowing him to alter shots in the paint. Along with Horford and Jefferson, Bosh does an excellent job of stretching the floor with his jumper. His court spacing and awareness are also pretty good. Miami definitely needs a lot of Bosh if they’re going to win another championship.
Sleeper: Tobias Harris (ORL): Harris is very young and still learning the game, but definitely keep an eye out on him. He can be a stat sheet-stuffer if given the playing time.
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