Blog Entry

2011-2012 NBA season: Southeast Division preview

Posted on: December 12, 2011 8:10 pm
Edited on: December 16, 2011 4:01 pm
Posted by Ben Golliver


We're less than two weeks away from the start of the 2011-2012 NBA season. After an interminable lockout and a rushed free agency period, here's a first look division-by-division preview at how the league is shaping up. We begin with the Southeast Division.

2011 Standings

1. Miami Heat, 58-24, lost in NBA Finals
2. Orlando Magic, 52-30, lost in first round of Eastern Conference playoffs to Atlanta Hawks
3. Atlanta Hawks, 44-38, lost in second round of Eastern Conference playoffs to Chicago Bulls
4. Charlotte Bobcats, 34-48, NBA Draft Lottery
5. Washington Wizards, 23-59, NBA Draft Lottery

Best team: Miami Heat

The Miami Heat proved they were the best team in the Eastern Conference by a significant margin when they dismantled the Chicago Bulls in the playoffs last year. The 2011-2012 version brings all the key pieces back and features one major upgrade: free agent wing Shane Battier. The Heat retained point guard Mario Chalmers and forward James Jones, avoid using the amnesty clause on forward Mike Miller, and get to enjoy a full year of a healthy Udonis Haslem. Free agent big man Eddy Curry steps in to provide depth behind center Joel Anthony too. Those are all good things, and I haven't even mentioned the Big 3 yet: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh. All return with a renewed purpose plus redemption as motivation, and all three spent the lockout getting themselves in top shape to accomplish their goal of winning a title.

Anything less than a ring will be a major disappointment. Now that coach Erik Spoelstra has had the experience of going through the fire once, he should be more ready than ever to guide the Heat to some major regular season and postseason accomplishments. 55+ wins in a 66-game schedule isn't outside the realm of possibility for Miami, although they will surely be careful limiting minutes for James and Wade down the stretch in anticipation of the playoffs.

Worst team: Charlotte Bobcats
This is Year One of what will be a multi-year rebuilding process under new GM Rich Cho, who brings overhauling experience from his days as an assistant GM in Seattle/Oklahoma City. There are some intriguing young pieces -- particularly rookies Kemba Walker and Bismack Biyombo, assuming the latter is finally available -- and one proven veteran in Corey Maggette but this season will be a tossaway for owner Michael Jordan, who will continue to look to cut costs and position the team for a high draft pick in a loaded 2012 lottery.

Biggest surprise: Orlando Magic
The upstart Washington Wizards have the potential to pleasantly surprise, but the looming trade of center Dwight Howard almost guarantees that Orlando's season will be the biggest surprise. And it's already off to a wacky start, with drunk dialing, resignations, layoffs and a major signing of Jason Richardson. Who could have predicted all of that two weeks ago? No one. And the Howard rumors are just beginning. Everything from a total rebuilding effort to a desperate spending spree to appease Howard is currently on the table. The Magic will be a daily surprise. 

Three Best Players: LeBron James, Dwight Howard, Dwyane Wade

Nowhere is the talent gap between superstars and everybody else more clear than the Southeast Division. The top-heavy Heat boast three of the top-15 players in the league while Howard is a top-3 talent. Nobody controls the action better than James, there isn't a better 2-way force than Howard and Wade is arguably the best crunch-time performer in the game. You can't go wrong with any of those three, and the drop between the trio and Bosh, the next best player in the Division, is steep.

Biggest Question: Will Orlando trade Dwight Howard?

All signs point to yes on the Magic finally parting with Howard. It was surely be a painful process, no matter how long it takes or how many pieces are received in return. The No. 1 overall pick in 2004, Howard has been everything you could hope for from a modern center and a marketing machine, missing just five games in seven seasons and posting ridiculous statlines (at least a double-double every year plus leading the league in blocks twice) along the way. If Orlando Magic GM Otis Smith is able to temporarily mend the fences between himself and Howard, he's likely to find out that slow-playing the trade process will result in some amazing offers for Howard's services. Howard should have been the 2011 NBA MVP and he plays the games' most coveted position. Someone will throw the franchise at Orlando for the rights to acquire him. It's only a matter of who and when.

2012 Projected Standings

1. Miami Heat
2. Atlanta Hawks
3. Orlando Magic
4. Washington Wizards
5. Charlotte Bobcats

Since: Jul 25, 2010
Posted on: December 25, 2011 9:43 pm

2011-2012 NBA season: Southeast Division preview

I believe the definition of a surprise is an unexpected outcome.

Since it's so obvious that Orlando will suck, by definition, it cannot be a surprise that they will have a bad racord.

The article also totally ignores the NBA's favorite team to ignore - the Hawks. One of only like 2 or 3 teams to make it to the Conference semi finals for the last 3 years, they deserve better recognition; Are they a great team? No. An NBA challenger? No. But they deserve better coverage than they get.

P.S. - What a ridiculous question to ask if Howard will be traded. Even Vegas bookmakers have it at 1 to 6 (not 6-1, but 1-6) that he will not play the full season in Orlando.

This preview is a joke.

Since: Aug 11, 2008
Posted on: December 25, 2011 1:38 pm

2011-2012 NBA season: Southeast Division preview

Washington will finish second to Miami. 

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: December 21, 2011 3:18 pm

2011-2012 NBA season: Southeast Division preview

a poster below said bosh is better than STAT way

Since: Mar 29, 2009
Posted on: December 19, 2011 11:56 pm

2011-2012 NBA season: Southeast Division preview

No mention of the Atlanta Hawks. They will be better this year. Not gonna win it all, but they are gonna make it a step closer.

Since: May 31, 2011
Posted on: December 14, 2011 8:34 am

2011-2012 NBA season: Southeast Division preview

Huge drop off in talent after Bosh?


Josh Smith is not better player than Bosh? He not in the top 30 players? Al Hortford, Joe Johnson, John Wall? Have you even heard of those guys, because you fail to mention one of them and they are all top 40 players.     

Since: Oct 2, 2007
Posted on: December 13, 2011 9:22 pm

2011-2012 NBA season: Southeast Division preview

The 2012 projected standings for the S.East division by Golliver look right to me.  The Heat have tried to add depth to their roster and it looks like they have by singing Shane Battier, described by some as  "the ultimate team player"!  This just might be the player who can help Dwayne Wade run the Heat by getting all the players,star and bench players alike to play as a team and be happy to do so!  It might hurt LeBron's game a bit to lose Zydrunas Ilgauskas seeing that James's game seemed better when they were both on the floor at the same time but I can see Battier helping James out in the same capacity.  It would be insane for the Magic not to trade Howard knowing he won't be there next season.  They have to get something for Howard and not just let him walk away.  The Magic should get something decent for him if the NBA and Stern don't pull anymore funny business.  The money for free agency is drying up so most likely it will be a sign and trade.  The Hawks have problems of there own with M.Williams not really living up to his potential and the Hawks might use their amnesty clause for him or Joe Johnson leaving a hole in their team.  Its a flip for second between the Hawks and Magic.  Depending on what the Magic are able to get for Howard or if they can resign him, they should be able to sneak in to the 2nd spot in the S.E. Division. Having just lost there best big man with Kawama the Warriors, it doesn't look good for them yet again.  Having said that, the Wizards are in sad shape as well.  Toss another coin for the last spot in the S.E. D.  Not many people I know consider Bosh a top 15 or top 20 player but is in the top 30 making him the star or at least the second star an any NBA team.  He may have taken a little less money to go for the Heat but maybe the Heat could have put the money to better use by getting James and Wade better bench and or reserve players.

Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: December 13, 2011 6:12 pm

2011-2012 NBA season: Southeast Division preview

I watched Bosh for years when people forgot he existed in Toronto, he is not a top 15, or even top 20 player. He crumbles during crunch time, I have seen it dozens of times!!! Pierce and KG are leaders, and champions. 

Since: Dec 13, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 12:29 pm
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Sep 19, 2011
Posted on: December 13, 2011 10:25 am

2011-2012 NBA season: Southeast Division preview

Did someone really say KG handed it to Bosh?  BOSH PUMPED KG in that series in every way!  KG had a total of 5 good quarters of basketball in the series!  Im not even a heat fan but im not dillusional either.  I give credit where its due and Bosh is top 15. 

Since: Jan 17, 2007
Posted on: December 13, 2011 9:24 am

2011-2012 NBA season: Southeast Division preview

Wade , James, Duncan, Durant, Garnett, Pierce, Paul, Westbrook, Nowitzki, Howard,Bryant, Gasol,Rose,Williams,Griffin,Stoudeamire, Rondo....

are you serious? Bosh is a great player. Far better than guys like Duncan, KG and Pierce at this stage in their careers. He also abused Gasol each time he played him this year. I dont think you will find a single GM in the league who would take Gasol over Bosh.  Also, Bosh and Stoudemire were both free agents last year and Bosh was nearly unanimously considered the more valuable of the two. Amare's numbers were better this year because he played in Dantoni's crazy offense and he was the "man" for most of the year (until Melo arrived).  Bosh's numbers would have been MVP-like if he was playing for the Knicks. Bosh is easily a top 15 player. He is one of the most skilled big men in the league. He needs to be more aggressive at times, but he is unquestionably a top 15 player in the league.

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