Best and Worst Case Scenarios in the NBA Southeast Division

While the Western Conference has been very competitive, the Eastern Conference has been weak over the past few years. Outside of Cleveland, few can feel confident about their team’s chances of dominating the East this season. Therefore, the door is open for almost every team to win games and qualify for the postseason. Last season, two teams made the playoffs with a record under .500. If you lose more than you win, you should not be eligible for the postseason. Yet, both Boston and Brooklyn qualified, proving any team can make it in the East. The NBA season is right around the corner and us fans are ready for the next chapter of history to be written. Let’s look at the best and worst case scenarios for the NBA Southeast Division in the Eastern Conference.

Miami Heat

Best Case: The Heat boast a star-studded starting lineup that includes Goran Dragic, Dwayne Wade, Loul Deng, Chris Bosh and Hassan Whiteside. Add in rookie Justise Winslow and this team has some of the best star power in the NBA. Winslow wins Rookie of the Year and is the longterm answer at small forward over Deng. The Heat have veterans on their team like Wade and Bosh who occasionally rest throughout the year. However, Miami has one of the deepest benches in the league with Chris Andersen, Mario Chalmers, Winslow, Green, Josh McRoberts and Amar’e Stoudemire, all who help lead Miami to a 3 seed finish. However, the team is fully healthy for the playoffs and makes it all the way to NBA finals, as Wade and Bosh eliminate LeBron James in the postseason for sweet revenge.

Worst Case: The Heat are thinking about the playoffs the whole season and actively rest Wade and Bosh to avoid more injuries. Bosh isn’t as productive post-surgery and doesn’t gel with Dragic like many hope he would have. The bench isn’t as deep as they were supposed to be and Whiteside was a one-year wonder. Miami ends up with an unlucky draw in the postseason as the 5 seed and falls in the first round in 6 games.

More Likely: Best Case

 

Washington Wizards

Best Case: John Wall takes that next step into the upper echelon of NBA players and is a finalist for the NBA MVP as he literally carries Washington throughout the year, averaging 25 points and 12 assists a game. Bradley Beal, Nene and Marcin Gortat simply follow his lead and Washington outperforms expectations. The team is a 2 seed in the East behind Cleveland and makes it to the Eastern Conference Finals. The best part is that hometown hero Kevin Durant sees enough promise in pairing up with Wall that it is rumored he will sign with Washington in the offseason.

Worst Case: The Wizards had an opportunity to build off of last year’s success but instead didn’t make any big moves as they were clearly saving cap room for Durant. However, these nonexistent moves end up backfiring. Washington takes a step backwards. Pierce is no longer taking big shots at the end of the game and the Wizards aren’t “special”. They finish as the 6 seed and are eliminated in the first round. Instead of being a team that Durant sees himself immediately winning on, he opts to sign elsewhere, leaving Washington crushed.

More Likely: Worst Case

 

Charlotte Hornets

Best Case: The Hornets receive a revitalized Nicolas Batum who revives his career in Charlotte. The trio of Kemba Walker, Batum and Al Jefferson are enough to carry Charlotte to a playoff berth in a very weak Eastern Conference. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist is one of the better defensive players in the league while first round draft choice Frank Kaminsky spaces the floor well and turns out to be a solid pick. The Hornets are eliminated in the first round but have a foundation to build off of.

Worst Case: The Hornets continue to be stuck in the cycle of mediocrity. They are not bad enough to get a top five pick, but don’t come close to the postseason as well. While recently traded Noah Vonleh flourishes, Nicolas Batum is disheartened on a bad team and does not give much effort. Charlotte also has one of the worst benches in the NBA and team misses the playoffs yet wins enough games to not have a top 10 pick.

More Likely: Worst Case

 

Orlando Magic

Best Case: Orlando has seven first round players selected in the past three years on their roster and the team finally takes that next step into becoming a competitive basketball team. Victor Oladipo wins Most Improved Player of the Year after a great campaign while Elfrid Payton and Aaron Gordon improve in their second year. Tobias Harris proves to be worth the contract extension while bigman Nikola Vucevic finally gets more national attention. Add in Rookie of the Year Mario Hezonja and suddenly Orlando has a very bright future. The team does not make the playoffs – they end up with another top 10 draft pick – but that is actually for the better. Orlando is set to add another high-end talent next year and continue their ascension.

Worst Case: The Magic continue to play terrible defense and literally cannot stop anybody. Vucevic is not a very good defensive center despite high rebounding totals and Gordon does not take step forward into becoming a better defensive forward. Hezonja ends up being looking more like a player coming off the bench than a future star. The Magic look like they are not content with their current roster and have another top five draft choice next season.

More Likely: Worst Case

 

Atlanta Hawks

Best Case: The Hawks four All-Stars are selected again to the Eastern Conference team as the Hawks continue to play some of the best team basketball in the league. Coach Mike Budenholzer spreads the court incredibly well and the team uses balance to finish as the 2 seed in the East. Al Horford and Paul Millsap continue to play very well alongside each other while Jeff Teague leads the offense. The Hawks make it to the conference championship game and are once again one piece away from being a legit NBA title contender.

Worst Case: The loss of DeMarre Carroll really hurts Atlanta. He did everything, whether it was included in the stats or not, and Atlanta does not move the ball as well and plays worse defense. Thabo Sefolosha cannot produce what Carroll did, and the Hawks regress in 2015-2016. The Hawks made no moves to improve themselves in the offseason and it ends up backfiring. The Hawks finish third in the division and are the 6 seed in the Eastern Conference before losing in the first round.

More Likely: Best Case


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