Southeast Division Preview*
Over/Under 60 1/2 wins - OVER
A small line-up featuring LeBron, D. Wade, Chris Bosh, [insert random shooters: Ray Allen, Rashard Lewis, Mario Chalmers, Shane Battier, Norris Cole, James Jones, etc.] will prove to be just as efficient as most bloggers are predicting. They’ll go small and run people off the court with a tenacious help-defense and an offense predicated on LeBron’s ability to pass and score from the low block. LeBron posting up and finding guys down on the block is the single scariest development fot the rest of the league since MJ decided baseball was getting boring. A healthy Wade also means they’ll have plenty of opportunities to run a pick & roll with LeBron or Bosh as the screener. Yeah, it’s pretty lethal for opposing defenses.
I could ramble on about this team, but you’ve already read everyone else. Yes, contemplating LeBron’s brilliance and final resting place in the pantheon of “Best players in the game” will be interesting, but everything else—all the puff pieces and fake problems—will be boring, like they were last year.
Over/Under 43 1/2 - OVER
They lost Joe Johnson, but it’s a testament to Joe Johnson that I think they’re gonna be better without him. Yes, he was a big off-guard that could match up against anyone in the league, but he wasn’t a particularly strong defender, he just had a height mismatch. With Al Horford back and Josh Smith in a contract year. I see good things for this team, and I think they’ll leapfrog New York, Brooklyn, Philadelphia and Milwaukee for at least a 4 or 5 seed in a top-heavy Eastern Conference.
Over/Under 23 1/2 - OVER
There’s some Ewing theory (google it) potential with Dwight gone, and they’re a professional basketball team, so winning 24 games isn’t the hardest thing in the world. Yes, they’re bad, and they’re no longer in contention for a berth in the Eastern Conference playoffs, as we saw last year when Indiana handled them pretty easily n the first round. This isn’t a great team, but they’re not the worst team in the league, or even in their division. Aaron Afflalo is a solid off-guard and Glenn Davis is a respectable—if undersized—power forward. Maybe Hedo cuts down on the pizza and cigarettes and has a great season shooting over opposing small forwards. Stranger things have happened.
Over/Under 27 1/2 - UNDER
Nene’s plantar fasciitis combined with John Wall’s non-tramautic (doesn’t that engender sympathy!) left petella stress fracture leaves fans with a lot to be desired. The Bullets are the Wizards of pissing off their fans.
Bradley Beal will see more work at point with Wall out, and Jordan Crawford will have the green light to try and become Jordan. Yes, he wants to be as good or better than the GOAT. While that’s commendable, it doesn’t foreshadow a lot of long term success. Neither do injuries to their top two players; injuries reliant on simply “rest,” are even worse. They’ll only be as dangerous as their health permits.
Over/Under 19 1/2 - UNDER
Adding rookie Michael Kidd-Gilchrist and former Chicago and Detroit shooting guard, Ben Gordon, should mean they’ll be better than last season’s historically bad team, but they’re still going to struggle to score points and they won’t be that much better on the defensive end, where they ranked as the league’s worst by a pretty large margin last season.
MJ is defering some basketball decisions to new GM, Rich Cho, which will help in the player development department, and they could have really bungled the second pick this summer, but Kidd-Gilchrist is excellent if not franchise-saving. Things are looking better in Charlotte and new coach, Mike Dunlap, is sure to implement some interesting line-ups and defensive strategies with such a paucity of talent. Look for the first full-court press since Rick Pitino coached Boston, but they’re still not going to overcome their obvious personnel issues—no matter the coaching or hustle.
*All bets via Bovada