NBA Predictions: Speculating Win totals for the Southeast Division

The Southeast Division is set for a shakeup after moves made during the NBA offseason. The Atlanta Hawks, Charlotte Hornets, Miami Heat, Orlando Magic, and Washington Wizards will battle it out, jockeying for playoff position.

This division is garnering interest with all the offseason changes but whose improved the most? Last Word on Sports dives into the Over/Under lines and makes its predictions.

NBA Predictions: Speculating Win totals in the Southeast Division

Atlanta Hawks looking to solidify itself as a Perennial Contender

The Atlanta Hawks had a great season last year, making the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals before falling to eventual champions the Milwaukee Bucks. It was a grand success and they will be looking to replicate it for the 2021-22 season.

Atlanta was relatively quiet in Free Agency adding Delon Wright and Gorgui Dieng. However, they made the most important moves re-signing Trae Young and John Collins to big deals.

There is healthy skepticism surrounding their record last year with many teams suffering from injuries. Teams in the East also got markedly stronger but the natural improvement from its young stars should negate some of this to some degree.

Ultimately, the Hawks go as Young goes. The 22-year-old was huge in the playoffs, hitting big shots in crunch time and taking over when they needed him. While he did struggle mightily with efficiency, Young was the primary reason why they surprised last year. He averaged 25-4-9 on 44-34-89 shooting splits last season and if he can increase his efficiency slightly, it will propel them into a top-four finish.

Atlanta finished with a record of 41-31 last season and the line is set at 46.5. The Hawks should finish around 45-47 wins but I am leaning toward the Under.

NBA Line: Under 46.5
Prediction: 45-37

Charlotte Hornets sign veterans to make NBA Playoff push

The Charlotte Hornets were in prime position to make the playoffs last season before falling off. Charlotte lost five straight games to finish in the 10th spot before being clobbered by Washington in the play-in game. Still, the Hornets accounted for themselves extremely well and have high expectations entering the 2021-22 season.

However, the Hornets made some interesting moves this offseason. They made a nice move trading Devonte’ Graham to New Orleans for a first-round pick but then inexplicably re-signed Terry Rozier to a massive deal. Rozier inked a four-year, $97-million-dollar deal.

Despite that, the Hornets made some nice veteran moves adding Kelly Oubre, Ish Smith, and Mason Plumlee. Oubre had a strange season in Golden State and will be looking to reverse perceptions about him. Plumlee is an intelligent center that offers playmaking and defense at the center spot while Smith can be used as an energy man off the bench.

There are question marks about their roster situation. Gordon Hayward is the team’s most accomplished player but it’s unclear what their intentions are. P.J. Washington and Miles Bridges are talented forwards but there is a logjam at the four and five. It’s clear that a move is on the way so it’s hard to envisage the roster stays as is.

If it remains the same, the Hornets are an interesting team. Their offense was potent last season with Hayward but the team nosedived once he was ruled out with injury. I like their veteran additions and natural improvement from Ball should elevate the team. However, the Eastern Conference is a bloodbath next season and got substantially stronger. With this in mind, I expect their record to be close to the same so I am riding with the Under.

NBA Line: Under 38.5
Prediction: 35-47

Miami Heat is on the brink of doing something special

The Miami Heat made a huge offseason splash in a quest to bring another NBA title to South Beach. Franchise cornerstone Jimmy Butler continues to be a stud and General Manager Pat Riley has vowed to do all he can to win another championship ring. Of all the teams in the Eastern Conference, the Heat are poised to take the greatest jump in the standings.

Miami struggled mightily with consistency last season but has significantly upgraded its roster to address this issue. Kyle Lowry, Markieff Morris, and P.J. Tucker arrive to add some much-needed toughness, grit, and balance. Butler has been a lone wolf with the Heat, acting as the team’s pulse, leader, and clutch performer. These additions help him in all three of these areas.

The loss of Andre Iguodala and Goran Dragic is huge given what the pair brought to Miami. Iguodala is one of the smartest players in the NBA, filling a number of roles on both sides of the rock. Dragic is a flamethrower scorer who can create, shoot and make play for others. However, Lowry is the biggest addition of all.

Lowry’s perception is confusing as it took a 2019 Championship to solidify how great of a player he already was. The 35-year-old represents hustle, effort, leadership, and a willingness to make the right play. Additionally, it’s interesting to see how fan’s perception of him has changed now he is in the US. Lowry is the perfect piece for Miami and his combination with Butler will determine how far they go.

I expect Miami to be a juggernaut in the Eastern Conference.

NBA Line: Over 48.5
Prediction: 52-30

The rebuild continues for the Orlando Magic

The Orlando Magic finally entered a full rebuild last season, trading all its veterans to restart the franchise. Terrence Ross is the only veteran remaining from last year and is likely to be on the move at some point. Nonetheless, Orlando brings a young team into the 2021-22 season with eyes on the future.

Nothing reinforces this idea more than the club’s offseason moves. The Magic signed veteran big man Robin Lopez to a minimum deal as well as re-signing forward Ignas Brazdeikis.

Orlando added two first-round picks to its core group and will focus on player development for the second straight season. This means the team will likely lose a ton of games this season but that matters very little if they are able to unearth a star. One player who showed flashes last season was Chuma Okeke. The 23-year-old power forward showed out in his rookie season as a two-way player despite struggling mightily with consistency. He only averaged 7.8 points, four rebounds, 2.2 assists, and 1.4 steals on 42-35-75 shooting splits but looked great in spots.

The line is set at 22.5 and I find it difficult to envision they hit the over. In my opinion, they will be lucky to win 20 games.

NBA Line: Under 22.5
Prediction: 19-63

New Look Washington Wizards out to prove itself

The Washington Wizards underwent a full makeover this offseason sending superstar Russell Westbrook to the Los Angeles Lakers for a host of role players. Washington is finally starting to take steps to reshape its entire roster, possibly rebuilding sooner rather than later.

The Wizards had a busy offseason, adding five players to its roster who will likely earn large rotational minutes.

The franchises most prized acquisition is Spencer Dinwiddie. Dinwiddie missed most of last season due to a knee injury but has shown a ton of ability at the point guard position. After being on four teams, he really established himself as a solid starter with the Brooklyn Nets. Now, the 28-year-old will be trusted to lead Washington alongside star Bradley Beal.

Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and Kyle Kuzma bring championship DNA to the nation’s capital. The former Lakers were key figures in the team’s 2020 Championship run, coming up big when called upon. Caldwell Pope was the Lakers designated three and D specialist while Kuzma evolved as a defensive player. Kuzma is excited to show more as an individual player thus tracking his play this year is an exciting proposition for fans.

Ultimately, the team’s success rests on the play of superstar Beal. The 30-year-old had a career year last season, averaging an outstanding 31.3 points per game. He was a close second to superstar Stephen Curry who is universally renowned as the greatest shooter of all time. Beal’s greatness is no secret and he will need to be on his A-game if they are to make the playoffs for the second straight season.

NBA Line: Over 34.5
Prediction: 39-43

 

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