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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

bron-dwight

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
Comments

Since: Sep 19, 2008
Posted on: December 13, 2011 8:29 am
 

2011-2012 NBA season: Southeast Division preview

At this point in their careers, Paul Pierce is not better than Chris Bosh.  That being said, Bosh is a top 20 player but probably not top 15.



Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: December 13, 2011 12:27 am
 

2011-2012 NBA season: Southeast Division preview

lol.. don't know where you think he got handled by kg. i think you might wanna go back and check the numbers in that series especially in the playoffs. bosh is a top 15 player and saying he isn't is stupid. he may have been the best of the three throughout the whole playoffs last year.    
Wade , James, Duncan, Durant, Garnett, Pierce, Paul, Westbrook, Nowitzki, Howard,Bryant, Gasol,Rose,Williams,Griffin,Stoudeamire, Rondo....

17 Guys (off the top of my head) better than Mrs. Bosh.  



Since: Feb 5, 2008
Posted on: December 13, 2011 12:24 am
 

2011-2012 NBA season: Southeast Division preview

At this point, i just dont see how anyone would throw the franchise to aquire howard. It just doesnt make any sense. Its only 66 games, and for most teams, that means money in the bank.



Since: Sep 27, 2007
Posted on: December 13, 2011 12:23 am
 

2011-2012 NBA season: Southeast Division preview

Bosh is not a top 15 player, top 15 players don't have their a&&es handed to them by old man Kevin Garnett or any other semi-star PF for a series.  He's a soft defender, mediocre rebounder, and the only time he's a good scorer is when he plays in meaningless games on a team that nobody gears up for.  He was a great stat producer on a lousy team and never was a winner.  If Bosh was a top 15 player, the Heat would have won the title.  They are a 2 1/2 man team, not a 3 man team.  They should have waited for Dwight Howard for a real trio of stars.



lol.. don't know where you think he got handled by kg. i think you might wanna go back and check the numbers in that series especially in the playoffs. bosh is a top 15 player and saying he isn't is stupid. he may have been the best of the three throughout the whole playoffs last year.    



Since: Dec 12, 2011
Posted on: December 12, 2011 11:58 pm
 

2011-2012 NBA season: Southeast Division preview

Bosh is NOT in the top 15! Please



Since: Apr 5, 2011
Posted on: December 12, 2011 11:56 pm
 

2011-2012 NBA season: Southeast Division preview

This is a preview?  I learned the Heat signed Battier and the Bobcats got Maggette.



Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: December 12, 2011 11:47 pm
 

2011-2012 NBA season: Southeast Division preview

Dear Cleveland,

Get over it.

Signed,

The world.
LOL...

You can throw Cardinals fans in that basket as well.
 
 The top-heavy Heat boast three of the top-15 players in the league while Howard is a top-3 talent
Bosh? Top 15? That's reaching. 



Since: Feb 16, 2007
Posted on: December 12, 2011 11:43 pm
 

2011-2012 NBA season: Southeast Division preview

Bosh is not a top 15 player, top 15 players don't have their a&&es handed to them by old man Kevin Garnett or any other semi-star PF for a series.  He's a soft defender, mediocre rebounder, and the only time he's a good scorer is when he plays in meaningless games on a team that nobody gears up for.  He was a great stat producer on a lousy team and never was a winner.  If Bosh was a top 15 player, the Heat would have won the title.  They are a 2 1/2 man team, not a 3 man team.  They should have waited for Dwight Howard for a real trio of stars.



Since: Oct 2, 2011
Posted on: December 12, 2011 10:32 pm
 

2011-2012 NBA season: Southeast Division preview

I like Spolstra and how he worked his way from the video room to head coach, but I would love to have Sloan come to Miami. Look at what he did with the Jazz, even after the Malone-Stockton era, especially in the tough Western Conference. 



Since: Oct 2, 2011
Posted on: December 12, 2011 10:26 pm
 

2011-2012 NBA season: Southeast Division preview

Sounds like someone is still bitter that the Cavs couldn't put the proper pieces around Lebron in 7 years to win a chip. To say they are buying a championship when all these guys took pay cuts is rather ignorant. Don't blame the Heat or LeBron, blame your owner and GM.


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