NBA Futures Predictions
The Atlanta Hawks caught a lot of people by surprise a year ago when they made major strides in running away with the Southeast Division in one of the finest seasons the franchise has had in recent memory.
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This year, the Miami Heat are better, and will be looking to re-gain their crown. The Southeast is shaping up to be a bit of a toss-up, but for bettors able to break it down and find where the edges are, there’s certainly some money to be made.
Here’s a look at which teams you should keep your handicapping eye on from the Eastern Conference.
Atlanta Hawks (NBA Odds +125)
The Hawks elected to keep Paul Millsap over DeMarre Carroll in the offseason, and his presence will certainly be missed. But offseason additions of Tiago Splitter and Tim Hardaway Jr. were solid.
The return of a healthy Thabo Sefolosha will help, and they won’t have the advantage of catching anyone off guard, but they figure to still be in contention for home court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs.
Washington Wizards (NBA Odds +220)
The Wizards let Paul Pierce walk, and they’ll certainly miss his scoring, but this is a team on the rise which added some pieces to better its weak bench, and the net of those moves feels positive.
John Wall and Bradley Beal will continue to improve, and Otto Porter Jr. has appeared ready to take over at the 3 for some time now.
The additions of some three-point shooters in free agency will serve the team well.
If Wall and Beal are able to improve their play as expected, it seems likely the Wizards will again flirt with 50 wins and homecourt advantage in the first round of the playoffs.
Miami Heat (NBA Odds +220)
The Heat added some pieces in the offseason to an already strong core and this could be the year they move back atop the Southeast.
The team made some good improvements despite their cap limitations, adding Justise Winslow in the draft, and adding Amar’e Stoudemire and Gerald Green.
The likes of Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Goran Dragic, and Luol Deng are all back, and the team is certainly in better shape than they were prior to LeBron’s arrival in South Beach.
Expecting a title run may be a bit premature, particularly given the quality of team fans in Miami just saw make four consecutive finals appearances with, but this is a deep group that figures to contend for one of the top three spots in the East.
Orlando Magic (NBA Odds +4000)
Scott Skiles is back in Orlando as head coach of the Magic. The team let some good talent leave town during the offseason in Kyle O’Quinn and Maurice Harkless, but there’s still plenty of young talent for Skiles to work with.
Skiles figures to mold the team into a defensive force pretty quickly given the pieces he has to work with.
Aaron Gordon’s a guy who could really become something if he’s allowed to grow right, so that needs to be a top priority.
Charlotte Hornets (NBA Odds +4000)
The Hornets just couldn’t find a way to consistently score the basketball a year ago, and addition of Nicolas Batum should help in that regard, given his ability to score and also create for others.
Re-signing him needs to be a priority.
If Al Jefferson can get back to playing the way we know he can, and Kemba Walker stays healthy, the Hornets could make some noise and compete for the seventh or eighth playoff spot in the East, but they’ll need to keep playing defense at a high level for that to happen.
2016 NBA Southeast Division Prediction: Heat +220
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