2009 NBA Preview: Southeast Division

This year, we’re doing a division-by-division preview with quick-hitting analysis for every team in the league. If a franchise is a legitimate championship contender, I’ll focus on what stars have to line up for a title run. If a team is a playoff “also-ran,” I’ll identify the weaknesses that have to be shored up via trade, free agency or draft over the next couple of seasons to make it a contender. If a team is likely to miss the playoffs, I’ll take a look at the salary cap, and provide a blueprint for how the team should proceed in the near future to get back in the postseason. At the end of each divisional preview, I’ll provide some (random) thoughts for the fantasy hoopsters out there.

For each division, I’ll pick the order of finish. You’ll also see the team’s league-wide preseason rank in parenthesis. Be sure to check back on Thursday for a preview of the Central Division and on Saturday for the Atlantic Division.

Orlando Magic (4)
The Magic were busy this summer, but did they get better? Only time will tell. Vince Carter, Brandon Bass and Jason Williams are in, and Hedo Turkoglu, Courtney Lee and Rafer Alston are out. Orlando fended off a strong run from the Mavs for the services of Marcin Gortat, and actually played Mark Cuban and Co. pretty well by stealing the up-and-coming Bass away in the process. It appears that Bass may start at power forward, which would move Rashard Lewis to small forward. Since the mismatches Lewis created at power forward were one of the Magic’s strengths last season, this may not be written in stone. Orlando also has the option of starting Mickael Pietrus at small forward and moving Lewis back to PF. But the biggest change to the lineup is the loss of Turkoglu and the acquisition of the 32 year-old Vince Carter, who will likely take over Turkoglu’s initiation of the offense. But keep in mind that the Magic made their playoff run without the services of All-Star point guard Jameer Nelson, and his return will be a significant boost to an already strong roster. The Magic didn’t just tinker with their Finals roster from last year, they made a pretty major overhaul, so it will be interesting to see how this group gels. Stan Van Gundy is one of the best coaches in the NBA, and the regular season should provide plenty of time for the Magic to work the kinks out. A deep playoff run is likely.

Read the rest of this entry »

Follow the Scores Report editors on Twitter @clevelandteams and @bullzeyedotcom.

2008 NBA Team-by-Team Preview

Ron Artest is a Rocket, Jermaine O’Neal is a Raptor and Mo Williams is a Cavalier. Richard Jefferson is a Buck and Corey Maggette is a Warrior. Baron Davis signed up to play with Elton Brand in L.A., but Brand bolted for Philly to play with AI2 instead. And Andrew Bynum is back from injury, trying to figure out how to co-exist with Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. There, you’re all caught up on most of the big summer news from the NBA.

Want more? We’ve got you covered. Our team-by-team preview breaks down each franchise’s offseason movement and outlook, along with a player (or situation) to keep your eye on. We also ask “The Big Question” that is haunting each team as it enters the season.

For the last two weeks, We’ve been previewing each team from #30 to #1, posting three team previews per business day, starting with the league’s bottom feeders – we’re looking at you, Thunder – and finishing up with the cream of the crop. So who will be #1? The Lakers? The Celtics? Or will there be a surprise at the top of our preseason power rankings?

Click here to see the entire preview.

2008 NBA Preview: #20 Atlanta Hawks

Offseason Movement: The Hawks screwed the pooch when they failed to sign Josh Childress to a long-term deal. They didn’t think he had any leverage since he was a restricted free agent, but he had the cojones to sign a deal with a Greek team instead of signing a one-year tender with the Hawks. Childress is the biggest talent to leave the NBA to play overseas in the prime of the career, and the Hawks will forever be known as the team that let him go. They replaced Childress with…wait for it…Maurice Evans.
Keep Your Eye On: Marvin Williams
Thus far, the former #2 overall pick has been decidedly average – he ranks 29th amongst all small forwards in PER. The good news is that he’s just 22 and entering the final year of his rookie contract. His qualifying offer next year ($7.3 milllion) is big enough that the Hawks could conceivably pass if he doesn’t show substantial improvement this season. The team usually went with Childress at small forward in crunch time, but now those minutes should belong to Williams, and he needs to make he most of them.
The Big Question: Which direction is this team headed?
The Hawks were a surprise playoff team last season and they took the NBA champs to seven games in the first round. But Mike Bibby is a year older (and a year slower) and they lost utility-man Josh Childress. I thought it was a mistake to trade for Bibby, and now he’s in the final year of his contract ($15.2 million), which means he might become a distraction as the season wears on. If they elect to let him play out his deal, the team will have a load of cap room next summer, so it looks like the Hawks could take a step back before taking another step forward.
Outlook: The long-term outlook is bright. The Hawks have Josh Smith (5 years) and Al Horford (4 years) locked up for the foreseeable future. Joe Johnson is under contract for two more years, but the Hawks have enough salary cap flexibility to make a splash in the next year or two for a star free agent. Until then, they’ll have to settle for the chance to fight for a playoff spot in the mediocre East.

Related Posts