Baller Mind Frame will be doing a series of 2012-13 NBA Previews because, really, what sort of respectable blog focused on the A wouldn’t? Mike Lipinski and DV will share their thoughts on what to expect and what to watch in each respective division. Erik jumps in with his opinions on the Southeast Division.
Predicted Order of Finish
Mike: 1. Miami Heat, 2. Atlanta Hawks, 3. Washington Wizards, 4. Charlotte Bobcats, 5. Orlando Magic
Erik: 1. Miami Heat, 2. Atlanta Hawks, 3. Washington Wizards, 4. Orlando Magic, 5. Charlotte Bobcats
Mike: The Big Three finally captured that elusive NBA championship together. Many people are choosing them to possibly repeat, but there is no doubt that are the cream of the crop in this division.
The Hawks traded away Joe Johnson, but still have Josh Smith. I doubt they will challenge Miami for the division, but they have a realistic shot for a sixth to eighth seed in the playoffs.
The Wizards are a young and talented team. Missing John Wall for any long period of time will hurt their chances to make the playoffs and that’s how they’re starting the season.
The Bobcats are finally moving in the right direction with the drafting of Michael Kidd-Gilchrist. It will be another tough year for them in Charlotte, but there is hope now.
The Magic, in so many words, are going to be awful. The Magic got younger and received a couple of pieces for the future in the Dwight Howard deal, but to think of them as contenders for the division crown is a pipe dream.
Erik: This division is polarized with the haves and the have-nots. The Miami Heat and the Atlanta Hawks will likely cruise on their way to the playoffs, while the other three teams will be fighting tooth and nail to not wind up at the bottom of the NBA barrel.
The Miami Heat aren’t the defending champs for nothing. They actually added some veteran depth to the small-ball theme they’ve got going on with Ray Allen and Rashard Lewis. Expect the Heat to remain on fire this season.
Atlanta may have lost Joe Johnson, but Josh Smith and the now-healthy Al Horford should be able to take care of business on both ends of the floor. Jeff Teague is due to come into his own this season and they’ve added a boatload of three-point shooters, all of whom should complement the team’s talented big men.
Washington shook up its roster, adding vets Nene Hilario, Trevor Ariza, and Emeka Okafor; while also scoring Bradley Beal in the draft. John Wall may be starting off the season hurt, but they should get their act together soon enough.
Orlando is rebuilding and they’re clearly not going to be the same without Dwight Howard. It’s therefore excusable to see them perform miserably this year.
The Bobcats are still a work in progress. They’re young, raw, and need more time to grow. They’re going to win more games than last season, but will still be the losingest team in the NBA. However, the could receive ample competition from Orlando with said dubious title.
Team on the Rise
Mike: Washington Wizards
Washington is a young team with loads of potential. John Wall is a star and paired with the number three overall pick, sharpshooter Bradley Beal. Washington has a solid foundation to build on.
Erik: Washington Wizards
Wizards will go how John Wall goes. Wall is entering his third year in the league and should take his experience from the last couple of seasons and elevate his game even further. Good things are in store for this kid and his new look team.
Team on the Decline
Mike: Orlando Magic
It’s going to be a long season in Orlando. In an offseason where you lose your two best players in Ryan Anderson and Dwight Howard, any team is going to have a rough year.
Erik: Orlando Magic
Let’s be realistic. Hedo Turkoglu, Arron Afflalo, and Glen “Big Baby” Davis will not be able to carry this team on their combined shoulders. The team will have to wait for the 2013 NBA Draft to infuse some young talent into its roster. For now, they’re in for a below .500 season.
Mike: LeBron James
He is the best player in the world and it looks like Lebron has finally got “it.” I expect another dominant season.
Erik: LeBron James
We’re living in his NBA era right now and it’s just a matter of enjoying the show as he builds on his legacy. He’s not just this division’s MVP, but he’s simply the best player in the game today. Period.
Other Players to Watch
Mike: Dwyane Wade, John Wall, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Josh Smith, Bradley Beal, Al Horford
Erik: Josh Smith, Chris Bosh, John Wall, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Arron Afflalo, Gustavo Ayon
Storylines to Watch
Mike: How bad is Orlando going to be? How much time is John Wall going to miss? What does LeBron have for an encore of his very successful year? How will Atlanta look without Joe Johnson?
Erik: Can John Wall begin lifting the Wizards from the gutter? Will Orlando or Charlotte be the worst team in the league this season? Can Josh Smith lead the Hawks on the court and in the locker room?