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NBA 2017/18 Predictions – Southeast Division

The Southeast Division is lucky it is in the East. As far as star power, it is arguably the weakest Division in 2017/18. Washington should be the most dominant team, with Miami and Charlotte also making the lower seeds of the playoffs. Orlando and Atlanta looking towards the lottery.


PG – Dennis Schroder / Malcolm Delaney
SG – Kent Bazemore / Marco Belinelli
SF – Taurean Prince / DeAndre Bembry
PF – Ersan Ilyasova / John Collins
C – Dewayne Dedmon / Mike Muscala

After letting veterans Millsap, Sefolosha and Tim Hardaway Jr walk away and trading Dwight Howard for a roll of used toilet paper (and having to give up positions in the draft for the privilege), the rebuild in Atlanta is officially on. In fact, the toilet paper has a chance to start.

There’ll be as many blowout losses as wins here, but at least there is a direction. Prince should get all the minutes he can handle, and he looked the goods in a starting role the latter part of last season. He’ll never be a star, but the kind of do-it-all player every team needs. Collins is an intriguing prospect, and I expect him to be the starter once Ilyasova is traded mid-season. Has there ever been a season where Ilyasova hasn’t been traded? Schroder has the keys (even though Prince has the Little Red Corvette) and I’m expecting big numbers from him this year, and not just in the turnover column.

Atlanta will let the youth play and be fun to watch while doing so. However, the youth in question are mid-first-round picks at best, so expect a long season. And given Atlanta’s selection history with top draft picks in hand, many long seasons.

Prediction: 5th (last) in the Southeast: 19-53


PG – Kemba Walker / Michael Carter-Williams
SG – Nicolas Batum / Jeremy Lamb / Malik Monk
SF – Michael Kidd-Gilchrist
PF – Marvin Williams / Frank the Tank
C – Dwight Howard / Cody Zeller

Charlotte is in the group of teams in the middle of the East who now find themselves arguable playoff locks by virtue of last season’s 5-8 seeds (Chicago, Atlanta, Indiana) going backwards.

Adding perpetual sulk Dwight Howard is a risky move, can he handle a timeshare with Zeller and Kaminsky, which looks likely. Perhaps his 3 point shooting will earn him more minutes on the wing as a specialist 3-and-D. Kemba Walker remains one of the most underrated players in the league, capable of taking over games on his own, which is lucky seeing MCW peaked his very first NBA game. Nicolas Batum’s injury will hurt, but it may be an opportunity for rookie Malik Monk, or Jeremy Lamb, who’s breakout window is closing.

Charlotte could be this season’s Washington, making the jump from also-ran into the East’s top 4 with a relatively stable roster. Then again, if adding Dwight Howard is too much of a disruption, they might not even be this season’s Charlotte.

Prediction: 3rd in the Southeast: 38-44


PG – Goran Dragic / Tyler Johnson
SG – Dion Waiters / Josh Richardson
SF – Rodney McGruder / Justise Winslow
PF – James Johnson / Kelly Olynyk
C – Hassan Whiteside / Bam Adebayo

The big question in Miami for 2017/18 is whether we will see the 11-30 Heat from the first half of last season, or the 30-11 Heat in the second half? I’m leaning towards the better version.

Goran Dragic and Hassan Whiteside are the only two locks to start, but they are legitimately 2-deep at every other position with starting caliber players. Miami were the surprise packet last season, playing above expectations after the all star break. Look for that to continue with them bringing back their core, with the addition of Olynyk who needs to quit with the Luis-Scola-hair and mohawk it up to become the Heat’s new Birdman.

Miami are on an upward trajectory again for the first time since LeBron returned to Cleveland. They should easily make the playoffs, and if one of the young wings can take a step up, they may actually be able to steal a first round series.

Prediction: 2nd in the Southeast: 45-37


PG – Elfrid Payton / DJ Augustin / Shelvin Mack
SG – Evan Fournier / Mario Hezonja / Aaron Afflalo
SF – Terrence Ross / Jonathon Simmons
PF – Aaron Gordon / Jonathan Isaac
C – Nikola Vucevic / Bismack Biyombo / Mareese Speights

This is the most well rounded roster the Orlando Magic have had for some time, with decent players backing up each position. However, their problem is simply a lack of star power, with most main players having a glaring weakness.

Nikola Vucevic can’t defend a chair, and Elfrid Payton could be the only player in the league who could get his shot blocked by his own hair. He’s still young though, and his numbers are on the up. Fournier and Ross are serviceable, but they wouldn’t excite the majority of Magic fans. A lot depends on if Aaron Gordon can have a breakout year, as has been anticipated for a couple of seasons. If he does, Orlando have a sneaky chance at the playoffs. If he continues to tease, the Magic will continue their “not-quite-bad-enough-to-get-a-meaningfully-high-draft-pick” ways.

I see too many “if”s for this team to change their fortune in 2017/18. They don’t have any guns-in-waiting and are relying on substantial improvement from players where marginal increases in productivity is more likely.

Prediction: 4th in the Southeast: 30-52



PG – John Wall / Tim Frazier
SG – Bradley Beal / Jodie Meeks
SF – Otto Porter Jr / Kelly Oubre Jr
PF – Markeiff Morris / Jason Smith
C – Marcin Gortat / Ian Mahinmi

John Wall is hands down the best player in this division, and having just turned 27 is entering the prime of his career. That alone has Washington winning the Southeast comfortably.

Washington rode their back court to the East’s top 4 last season, and if Boston and Cleveland both have an adjustment period to their new point guards, Washington could find itself atop the East by a nose, at least early in the season. A normal sized nose though, not a Marcin Gortat nose. Their only worry would be a major injury, as their depth is not great. Even Morris missing the first couple of months of the season means both Jrs should start, leaving the bench extremely thin. You don’t want to be relying on Gortat for heavy minutes at his age, or Mike Scott for any minutes at all. He belongs in The Office.

If the Wizards can stay injury free, look for them to overtake Toronto to be a top-3 team in the East, get their first 50-win season since the last time they made the NBA Finals 39 years ago, and John Wall to be a casual mention in the MVP discussion.

Prediction: 1st in the Southeast: 53-29

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