Dwight Howard has taken his downhill freight train to the Charlotte Hornets. That should prove beneficial to all involved. NOT. Either way, Howard’s career arc is always an aspect that seems to receive coverage regardless of its positive or negative outcome. The Miami Heat snagged Kelly Olynyk away from the Boston Celtics in one of the offseason’s most underrated moves. Olynyk developed into a quality offensive option for Boston and should bolster Miami’s production.
In a surprising move, the San Antonio Spurs didn’t retain Jonathon Simmons who signed with the Orlando Magic. Simmons hardly turns the Magic into an Eastern threat, however, his game has improved enough to where his team switch is noteworthy. Frankly, the Southeast Division didn’t bring in all that many big names. The moves were more minor such as Dewayne Dedmon joining the Atlanta Hawks, Mike Scott landing with the Washington Wizards, and transactions of that nature.
Do the Hawks even have an x-factor? As currently constructed, a total rebuild and a destiny of losing seems to be in Atlanta’s future plans. That stated, Dennis Schroder experiencing a substantial improvement would be a starting point. Atlanta will also need Kent Bazemore to assert himself with greater consistency on offense as he still looks to prove that he’s worth such a major contract. He scored just 11 points-per-game last season on 40.9 percent shooting.
Kemba Walker is the proverbial engine that can make the Hornets go. He is undoubtedly the team’s x-factor from a success standpoint. If he gets injured or has an ineffective season, Charlotte will struggle. However, since Walker’s success seems rather likely, the x-factor who can truly change Charlotte’s season could be Frank Kaminsky. The big man needs to improve his efficiency and rebounding in order give the Hornets an edge.
Was last year a flash in the pan or a sign of future production for Dion Waiters? Waiters Island, as the polarizing player is known, nearly put up a 16/4/3 line with a more than respectable 39.5 percent clip from deep. For Miami, Waiters having 25 points on a given night probably puts them in a position to win. If he goes 3-for-15 with eight points in another game, the outcome will be different. Waiters playing well flows into the Heat doing the same.
Who are you, Aaron Gordon? What is your position? What is your place in this league? All legitimate questions. The athletic “forward” inexplicably took 3.3 triples per game last season despite having a busted shot that has no business chucking from there. He only posted 5.1 rebounds per contest which is right around his career 5.3 number in the same category. Gordon needs to discover his identity in order to help the Magic.
Otto Porter was brought back at a significant price. While his contract might make casual NBA fans vomit, he’s a player Washington couldn’t afford to lose. But now’s the time for Porter to catch up to John Wall and Bradley Beal from a reliability standpoint. He was utterly excellent last year with a 51.6 percent shooting number and 43.4 percent from deep. Duplicating similar numbers and raising his scoring average will hugely aid the Wizards.
Tyler Dorsey cracks the rotation and develops into one of Atlanta’s top bench players.
Kemba Walker and others refrain from strangling Dwight Howard despite his poor fit with the team and selfish tendencies.
Kelly Olynyk lands a much bigger role than in Boston and averages 20 points per game.
Jonathon Simmons has a career year and puts up a 17/6/4 line.
John Wall’s rise continues as he cracks top three in the MVP race.
PG: John Wall, Washington Wizards
SG: Bradley Beal, Washington Wizards
SF: Otto Porter, Washington Wizards
PF: Kelly Olynyk, Miami Heat
C: Nikola Vucevic, Orlando Magic
1- Washington Wizards (52-30)
2- Miami Heat (45-37)
3- Charlotte Hornets (36-46)
4- Orlando Magic (31-51)
5- Atlanta Hawks (29-53)