John Wall is the Wizards superstar and their success will be determined on how good he plays this year. Wall is explosive athletically, and has the talent to be as good as the best point guards in the NBA such as, Russell Westbrook, Chris Paul, and Derrick Rose. However, he will need to protect the basketball and lower the amount of turnover he commits.
The Wizards were smart in acquiring small forward Paul Pierce. Pierce gives the Wizards a sound veteran presence in the locker room, and a person who knows what it takes to win a championship in the NBA.
Moreover, their front line of Marcin Gortat and Nene Hilario give them big time strength and size down low. Something they need if they’re going to try and make a run at the division title.
Bradley Beal is an amazing shooter. If he can improve, and continue gelling with Wall, the Wizards will have a year to remember.
The Heat have lost LeBron but don’t tell Dwyane Wade his championship aspirations are over because of it. Wade will be poised to have one of his best seasons ever, and if he stays healthy Miami can make some noise.
Chris Bosh resigned and will be one of the main offensive options now that LeBron is gone. If he can become the monster down in the post he once was, and stay away from the three-point line, the Heat are in business.
Miami also made some key additions in the offseason adding Loul Deng, and feisty big man Josh McRoberts. However, they do not have the same depth they have enjoyed in past seasons. Therefore, any injuries they suffer could be detrimental to their playoff chances.
Believe it or not the Hawks are the team with the most consecutive post seasons made in the Eastern Conference. They have made it to the dance seven straight years, and should do so again this season.
Their frontcourt is formidable with Paul Milsap, and Al Horford patrolling the paint. These two also have great post up games, which helps Atlanta get great looks from beyond the three point line. Atlanta actually made and attempted more threes than anyone in the NBA last season.
Nevertheless, the Hawks haven’t defended the perimeter well in seasons past. Help is on the way in the form of defensive stalwart Thabo Sefolosha. If he and point guard Jeff Teague can keep penetrators out of the paint, they can contend for the division crown.
This team is young but they are talented. Moe Harkless, Victor Oledipo, and rookie Aaron Gordon give the Magic a young and athletic group of players. If they use their youth to their advantage by giving maximum energy on defense, it will give opposing offenses fits.
However, with youth come tremendous growing pains. Head coach Jacque Vaughn must find a way to keep these young guys focused everyday. Once the focus is gone the blowouts will ensue.
The Bobcats are no more, and the buzzing of the Hornets can be heard all throughout the Carolinas. This team was a surprise last year, and gave the Heat all they could handle in last years playoffs.
However, they did lose Josh McRoberts to the Miami Heat. To make up for that, they signed Lance Stephenson. Stephenson can’t replace McRoberts size, but he is a high-energy guy, who is tough and fearless.
Al Jefferson is a solid big man who provides great post up play. If he can be effective it will provide a lot of wiggle room for Lance and point guard Kemba Walker.
Nevertheless, the Hornets do lack perimeter shooting, and Jefferson should see a lot of double teams. Subsequently, when that happens who is going to be the person who can provide consistent offense? Therefore, they will have to continue to play high-energy defense in order to force turnovers that will lead to easy points.
2014 NBA Southeast Division Prediction
1- Washington Wizards- 52-30
2- Miami Heat- 49-33
3- Atlanta Hawks- 47-35
4- Charlotte Hornets- 38-44
5- Orlando Magic- 21-61