NBA Southeast Division Futures: Are the Hawks Ready to Make a Leap?
The start of the NBA regular season is right around the corner, and FanDuel Sportsbook has posted odds for which team will win each division. That includes the Southeast Division, which features last year’s Eastern Conference champs:
- Miami Heat -300
- Atlanta Hawks +600
- Washington Wizards +950
- Orlando Magic +1200
- Charlotte Hornets +3000
The Heat are the clear favorites in this division after making it to the NBA Finals last year. They’ve brought back virtually their entire roster, including Jimmy Butler, Goran Dragic, and Bam Adebayo, but it’s hard to envision them reaching the same heights as last season. The rest of the East has gotten better, and Miami’s only really addition during the offseason was Avery Bradley. Tyler Herro is their best chance for improvement. He’s coming off an excellent rookie season at just 20 years old, and his game took a step forward in the playoffs. Kendrick Nunn and Duncan Robinson are other young players who could theoretically improve in 2021, although neither player was a highly regarded prospect.
The Hawks are the most likely challengers to the Heat in the division. They clearly want to compete as soon as possible, and they’ve made some splash additions recently. They started by trading for Clint Capela before the deadline last season, and they brought in Danilo Gallinari, Bogdan Bogdanovic, and Rajon Rondo in the offseason. Those players will join a young core of Trae Young and John Collins, so this team is certainly talented enough to qualify for the postseason.
The Wizards are the X-factor in the Southeast. They were able to trade John Wall for Russell Westbrook over the offseason, which stands out as a potentially massive upgrade. Westbrook is a polarizing player, but he’s still capable of stuffing the stat sheet on a nightly basis. He’ll join Bradley Beal to form one of the most imposing backcourts in the Eastern Conference, and this team has some talented young big men in Rui Hachimura, Thomas Bryant, and rookie Deni Avdija. Davis Bertans was also re-signed during the offseason, and he’s blossomed into one of the best 3-point shooters in the entire league.
The Magic were the only team besides the Heat to make the playoffs from this division last season. That said, they weren’t particularly good – they ranked just 18th in Net Rating – and didn’t make any real improvements during the offseason. They did bring back basically their entire roster, but it’s hard to see them returning to the playoffs in an improved conference.
The Hornets round out this division, and no one really knows what they’re doing at this point. They’re spending money like they’re contenders – they’ll pay Gordon Hayward, Terry Rozier, and Cody Zeller a combined $62.8M this season – but they still have one of the worst rosters in the league. They do have some promising young players in Devonte’ Graham, P.J. Washington, and LaMelo Ball, but this team is still a long way away from being playoff contenders.