The dust has settled on free agency, barring any major trades. Now that the NBA Draft in the rearview mirror and all key free agents have found homes, let’s see where the Wizards stack up against their Southeast Division foes.
Key Additions: Jimmy Butler, Meyers Leonard, Tyler Herro (Draft)
Key Losses: Dwyane Wade (Retired), Hassan Whiteside, Josh Richardson
The fact that I put Miami here says more about the rest of the division than it does the Heat.
Miami has a star again in Jimmy Butler but will he come with the baggage that followed him around from Chicago to Minnesota and Philadelphia? No doubt about it, the Heat will be one of the best teams defensively as they always are under Erik Spoelstra but Miami didn’t do a whole lot to address their scoring woes as they were one of the worst offensive teams in the league last year.
The big question with the Heat is, are they done making moves? It’s unlikely that Chris Paul will play any games in Oklahoma City and talks between the Heat and Thunder have currently stalled out. But if there’s one guy who can get the job done, it’s Pat Riley. If Riley is able to pull it off, that’ll make Miami the clear favorites to win the division.
Key Additions: Al-Farouq Aminu
Key Losses: None
After a six-year hiatus, the Orlando Magic returned to the playoffs and surprisingly, won the Southeast Division in the process with a 42-40 record.
The Magic re-signed Nikola Vucevic and Terrance Ross this summer in fear of taking a step back after making a playoff appearance. They signed Al-Farouq Aminu which seems kind of odd given that they already have a bunch of wing players who can’t really shoot all that well.
Overall, the Magic had a pretty ho-hum offseason. They didn’t get worse but didn’t really get better either.
Key Additions: Allen Crabbe, Evan Turner, Chandler Parsons, Jabari Parker, Damian Jones, DeAndre Hunter (Draft), Cam Reddish (Draft)
Key Losses: Taurean Prince, Kent Bazemore, Dewayne Dedmon, Miles Plumlee
Psst — you looking for your token ‘team likely to take the next step?’ I found them right here.
The Hawks have an excellent young core in Trae Young, John Collins, and Kevin Huerter who will all have another year under their belt. Atlanta drafted DeAndre Hunter out of Virginia and Cam Reddish out of Duke. They also have a nice mix of veterans sprinkled in with guys like Vince Carter, Allen Crabbe, and Evan Turner.
They have all the tools to take another step forward in what will be a watered down Eastern Conference but that will all be dependent on if they can improve their defense as they were one of the worst teams defensively last year.
Key Additions: Isaiah Thomas, Ish Smith, C.J. Miles, Davis Bertans, Rui Hachimura (Draft)
Key Losses: Tomas Satoransky, Trevor Ariza, Jabari Parker, Jeff Green, Bobby Portis, Dwight Howard
Just two years ago, the Wizards had aspirations of winning 50 games and making the Eastern Conference finals. Now, it feels like 30 wins is the ceiling for this team.
Bradley Beal has asserted himself as an All-Star and fringe All-NBA player. But outside of Beal, the Wizards won’t have a whole lot to work with. Excluding John Wall who will likely miss all of next year, the Wizards only bring back one player from last year’s roster who averaged double digits in scoring last season — Thomas Bryant.
The Wizards are firmly in rebuilding mode evidenced as their roster is primarily made up of young guys or veterans on one or two year deals. It’ll be an interesting hodgepodge of lineups as you have younger guys like Troy Brown Jr., Rui Hachimura, Mo Wagner, and Isaac Bonga who’ll be looking to show that they belong in the NBA. Whereas, they’ll be playing alongside veterans like Isaiah Thomas who’s looking to resurrect his career in Washington and CJ Miles whose playing for his next contract.
Buckle up Wiz fans, we might be in for a long one next year.
Key Additions: Terry Rozier, PJ Washington (Draft)
Key Losses: Kemba Walker, Jeremy Lamb, Frank Kaminsky, Tony Parker (Retired)
It’s going to be a long, long season for Hornets fans. After refusing to trade Kemba Walker to make a last-ditch effort to slide into the playoffs (sounds familiar?), Walker left for greener pastures in Boston.
It’s clearly rebuilding time in Charlotte which will benefit the younger guys. Players like Malik Monk, Miles Bridges, Dwayne Bacon, and PJ Washington will have a long leash and should see plenty of playing time next year. On nights when Terry Rozier and Nicolas Batum don’t play, the Hornets will trot out a roster resembling that of a G-League team.
After moving all of their chips to the center of the table for Kemba, he walked for nothing leaving the Hornets in disarray. This is what happens when all-in bet goes bad and as a result, Charlotte might end up being the worst team in the NBA next year.