For all the Eastern Teams, the southeast division is the weakest – you got one defending champion in Miami, one playoff team in Atlanta and the rest are rebuilding teams. We expect teams like Charlotte and Washington to continue tanking this season, hoping to get a higher draft next year. Orlando, who just lost Dwight Howard, will have to play on with no real superstar on their roster. There won’t be any problem for Miami going into the conference finals and eventually defending their championship this season. There isn’t much competition on their division and the Heat got good and quality free agents.
New Acquisitions: Devin Harris, James Anderson, Damion Jones, Kyle Korver, Anthony Morrow, Johan Petro, DeShawn Stevenson, Anthony Tolliver and Lou Williams
Rookies: John Jenkins and Mike Scott
Losing Joe Johnson’s fat contract helped Atlanta in finding good role players. Devin Harris and Lou Williams could guide the young Jeff Teague in leading the team. Kyle Korver could help them ease up on double teams with his deadly three-point shooting. All-in-all the Hawks are a playoff contender team. However, they still have one to two pieces left before they could move forward from their last playoff spot. Josh Smith and Al Horford will still be the focal point on offense and defense, but they need to push harder if they are aiming for bigger results.
New Acquisitions: Ben Gordon, Brendan Haywood, Ramon Sessions and Dajuan Summers
Rookies: Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Josh Owens and Jeffrey Taylor
The Charlotte Bobcats wanted to be active in free agency last summer. They wanted to land marquee players such as Deron Williams or Dwight Howard. Nevertheless, tanking always has its benefits. Michael Kidd-Gilchrist may not be a Dwight Howard caliber, but the 6-foot-7 forward offers more than what people know he could offer. He is the best wing player in the draft that could defend, hustle, rebound and score. Aside from Anthony Davis, Michael could automatically be a vital contributor to any team. Peppered with new free agents such as Sessions, Haywood and Gordon, the Bobcats seemed to be moving on the right direction, although it would still take years to be on a playoff form.
New Acquisitions: Ray Allen, Rodney Carney, Mickell Gladness, Josh Harrelson, Garret Temple and Rashard Lewis.
Rookies: Robert Dozier and Jarvis Varnado
The defending champs will still parade the same roster, but with key additions such as the sweet shooting veteran, Ray Allen and versatile forward in Rashard Lewis. I like the signing of undervalued center, Josh Harrelson. Josh could really help them inside the lane. He could shoot, rebound and defend really well. He could be a good role player who doesn’t need to score, with the Miami Trio (James, Wade and Bosh) doing the scoring. One thing they say about championships is that “It is harder to defend rather than to win it the first time.” The Lakers could be a good final matchup; that’s for sure.
New Acquisitions: Arron Affalo, Gustavo Ayon, Christian Eyenga, Al Harrington, Armon Johnson, Josh McRoberts, E’Twaun Moore and Nikola Vucevic
Rookies: Moe Harkless, Chris Johnson, DeQuan Jones, Andrew Nicholson and Kyle O’Quinn.
The Magic couldn’t do anything after Dwight preferred to wear the purple and gold uniform. It could have been a disaster for them if they never trade Howard – they could end up nothing.
13 new players with a new coach, it seems that this year would be a re-building year for Orlando.
New Acquisitions: Trevor Ariza, Earl Barron, Emeka Okafor, Jannero Pargo, A.J. Price, Shavlik Randolph and Martell Webster
Rookies: Bradley Beal and Steven Gray
Washington might not be under the radar of many teams, but they could really be a contender for this season. They have been patient for the last three years – re-building their roster, and now they are reaping the fruits of their labor. Nene is such a good late addition to the Wizards last season, and pairing him with Okafor can be a good solid offense-defense duo in the front court. John Wall will still be the face of the new Wizards and complementing him with defensive minded players makes the Wizard look good. However, they still have to find that number two player who could take care of their offense. Although Washington is still promising, but I think they will fall short on a playoff appearance.