THE Sports & Swag Report

NBA: Southeast Division Preview – Can anyone beat Lebron and the Heat

Lebron and Dwyane Wade look to lead the Heat to a Three-Peat.

The 2013-14 NBA season is almost upon us. That means its time for Sports & Swag to breakdown the NBA season and how I think things will shake out. Will Lebron and the Heat, Three-peat? Let’s delve into it. Starting with the division the defending champs reside in, the Southeast Division……

All Southeast Division Team:

PG –  John Wall  (Washington Wizards)

SG – Dwyane Wade (Miami Heat)

SF – Lebron James (Miami Heat)

PF – Chris Bosh (Miami Heat)

C   – Nikola Vucevic (Orlando Magic)

Best Veteran Addition:

Al Jefferson  (Charlotte Bobcats)

Best Newcomer:

Victor Oladipo (Orlando Magic)

Predicted Order of Finish:

1. Miami Heat –  (2012-13 result: Won NBA Title) 

Projected Lineup and Rotation:

PG – Mario Chalmers   Bench –  Norris Cole

SG – Dwyane Wade      Bench –  Ray Allen

SF –  Lebron James     Bench  –  Shane Battier

PF –  Chris Bosh           Bench  –  Chris Andersen

C   –  Udonis Haslem   Bench  –  Greg Oden

Strengths:  Head coach, Erik Spoelstra sure does have it good. Besides having the best player in the game today, Lebron James, the Heat also have Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. There’s no better trio in the game, but that’s not hard to see. The Heat have the right complement of role players to mesh with the ‘Big 3’. While, Ray Allen and Shane Battier are great, the most unsung player on the team is Mario Chalmers. When you think of top point guards in the league, the name Chalmers doesn’t come up, but Chalmers contribution to this team is as important as anyone’s. He’s a lot of times the glue of this team, he’s one of the better defenders, and he’s never afraid to take the big shot.

Weaknesses:  There’s still really one weakness. Its been the same weakness since Lebron decided Take his talents to South Beach. Rebounding. Post presence is also a weakness, however James has made more of an effort to give Miami the post presence they need at times to free up Battier and Allen from the perimeter. The Heat did make one addition to address their rebounding issues, in signing Greg Oden. The often injured center, if healthy, could give the Heat the paint presence that’s been lacking and makes them vulnerable to teams like the Pacers, Bulls, and Spurs.

Outcome:  It’s very difficult to win three titles in a row in any sport. So many teams have tried and failed. The NBA has never had so much parity, but is there that one team that can finish the deal the Spurs and Pacers didn’t? I think so, but I’ll reveal who I think that will be in future previews. Needless to say, the Heat will be extremely tough to beat.

2.  Washington Wizards –  (2012-13 result: Missed Playoffs)

Projected Lineup and Rotation:

PG  –  John Wall             Bench –  Eric Maynor

SG  –  Bradley Beal        Bench –  Garrett Temple / Martell Webster

SF  –  Trevor Ariza           Bench –  Otto Porter

PF  –  Nene                      Bench –  Chris Singleton

C    –  Emeka Okafor      Bench –  Kevin Seraphin

Strengths:  The Wizards have one of the younger rosters in the league, but there is a lot of talent there. Led by John Wall, who was injured much of last season, the Wizards are also solid off the bench. Eric Maynor, should provide the guard play needed when Wall goes to the bench. Rookie Otto Porter, who Washington drafted in the 1st round out of Georgetown, should provide depth on the wing behind Trevor Ariza and Bradley Beal. Martell Webster should also provide depth, and shooting from the perimeter. The Wizards are also solid up front with Nene and Emeka Okafor.

Weaknesses:  Whenever a team is looked as being young and up and coming, the usual weakness is veteran leadership. Nene and Ariza are probably the most experienced players the Wizards have that have any major playoff experience, but neither are really looked at as being the leader type. Also, while the Wizards have the look of a team that could have balanced scoring, will someone else besides Wall step up on a nightly basis and be consistent. Beal, looks like the most likely candidate to be that guy, but will he have that sophomore slump after averaging nearly 14 points and being an All-Rookie selection?

Outcome:  I checked the Wizards out a LOT last season. They made a splash with some high-profile victories, even in Wall’s absence. They’re not afraid of anyone. Its time Washington D.C. and the rest of the NBA take notice. Expect this team to make the playoffs.

3. Orlando Magic – (2012-13 results: Missed Playoffs)

Projected Lineup and Rotation:

PG  –  Jameer Nelson         Bench  –  E’Twuan Moore

SG  –  Arron Afflalo                Bench  –  Victor Oladipo /

SF  –  Maurice Harkless      Bench  –  Tobias Harris

PF  –  Glen Davis                  Bench  –  Tobias Harris / Andrew Nicholson / Hedo Turkoglu

C    –  Nikola Vucevich         Bench  –  Jason Maxiell  /  Kyle O’Quinn

Strengths:  Front court. Nikola Vucevic was a very pleasant surprise for the Magic in 2012. Vucevic, led the Magic in rebounding, while becoming one of the best rebounders in the league at nearly 12 a game. He also averaged over 13 points per game, giving Orlando a man in the paint to really build around. Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis should be back healthy from his injury plagued season, and Tobias Harris looks like he could be a star in the making, after the Magic acquired him for a very small price from Milwaukee. The Magic look to be athletic and deep in the paint, even without a true center to spell Vucevic. Harris and Davis’ versatility should do the Magic well.

Weaknesses:  Leadership and Point Guard play. Jameer Nelson returns as the Magic’s floor general. I’m still underwhelmed with what he’s brought to the table as far as leading the team. The Magic are in need of an upgrade at that position. I think Oladipo, while not a point guard, could help. Nelson, ultimately is the key to how far the Magic go this season. Orlando has a nice nucleus for 2nd year coach, Jacque Vaughn.

Outcome:  No doubt the Magic are young, but they’re also talented. I like the mix in the front court, if the guard play is there, the Magic should be in the playoffs. It will likely be a fight for 7th or 8th spots.

4. Atlanta Hawks –  (2012-13 result: Made 1st Round of Playoffs)

Projected Lineup and Rotation:

PG  –  Jeff Teague         Bench  –  Shelvin Mack / Dennis Schroeder

SG  –  John Jenkins     Bench  –  Lou Williams

SF  –  Kyle Korver          Bench  –  DeMarre Carroll

PF  –  Paul Millsaps      Bench  –  Elton Brand

C    –  Al Horford            Bench  –  Gustavo Ayon

Strengths:  Perhaps the biggest strength the Hawks have right now isn’t actually on the court.  Atlanta has taken a complete makeover in the last couple seasons. Last season, it was Danny Ferry taking over as GM, and this season long time Spurs assistant, Mike Budenholzer take over the head coaching duties. The Hawks new administration is changing things big time, in terms of how they construct their roster. No longer are the Hawks throwing big money at marginal free agents. They’ve cleared house and are basically have a new look on life for the future. On the court, Paul Millsaps joins Al Horford  to give the Hawks a talented front court. Jeff Teague, is also underrated at the point.

Weaknesses:  Scoring. Millsaps and Horford are both capable in the paint, but will they mesh together. Say what you want about Josh Smith, he’s very athletic and I think complemented Horford well. It remains to be seen whether Millsap will beas good for Horford, who will continue to have play center when he’s a natural power forward. Teague, is good at running the team, but Jenkins or Williams provide consistent scoring from the back court? It’s good the Hawks were able to keep Korver, but he’s one-dimensional.

Outcome:  The Hawks are in rebuilding mode. No other way to put it. There is still talent to make a playoff run, but I think they come up short. However, with the Hawks new facelift the future could be bright in the ATL.

5. Charlotte Bobcats – (2012-13 result: Missed Playoffs)

Projected Lineup and Rotation:

PG  –  Kemba Walker               Bench  –  Ramon Sessions

SG  –  Gerald Henderson        Bench  –  Ben Gordon

SF  –   Michael Kidd-Gilchrist  Bench  –  Jeff Taylor

PF  –  Cody Zeller                      Bench  –  Josh McRoberts

C    –  Al Jefferson                     Bench  –  Brendan Haywood / Bismack Biyombo

Strengths:  Al Jefferson comes over from the Utah Jazz and is easily one of the best acquisitions of the off-season. He’s an instant upgrade to a front court that really had no viable offensive threat. In the back court the Bobcats have viable scoring with Walker and Henderson. Kidd-Gilchrist is a star in the making on the defensive end with his athleticism, but he’s still a bit raw offensively on the wing.

Weaknesses:  The Bobcats are young at just about every position. Who can step up and be that leader on the floor? I believe that eventually Kemba Walker will be a good NBA floor general. He’s definitely more of a scoring point guard, and still learning the point guard position. Consistent shooting is also a problem. Players like Henderson and Gordon should have more open looks with Jefferson providing that low post presence the Bobcats have never had.

Outcome:  Charlotte should be much improved. Jefferson’s presence alone should give them a nice scoring boost, but the young Bobcats depth issues will keep them out of the playoffs again.

Thank You for reading. Agree or disagree? Please feel free to comment and also look out for more previews of the NBA season, right here on Sports & Swag……


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