NBA Southeast Division Preview: The Miami Heat Dare Challengers
Posted on: October 13, 2022, 02:37h.
Last updated on: October 13, 2022, 05:36h.
The Miami Heat are the consensus betting favorite to win the Southeast Division at -165 odds, according to DraftKings. The Atlanta Hawks their only legitimate competition this season at +170 odds.
After winning the Southeast Division four seasons in a row during the LeBron James era, the Heat won the division crown every other season since 2014. The Heat are seeking their first back-to-back Southeast title since the height of the LeBron regime in South Beach. Meanwhile, the Hawks will attempt to win their second Southeast crown in the last three seasons.
2022-23 NBA Southeast Division Odds
- Miami Heat -165
- Atlanta Hawks +170
- Charlotte Hornets +1400
- Washington Wizards +2000
- Orlando Magic +20000
*** Odds via DraftKings
The Heat are one of five teams in the Eastern Conference that could win the NBA title this season. DraftKings lists the Heat at +800 odds to win the Eastern Conference and +2000 odds to win the NBA Championship outright.
Miami Heat -165
Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat secured the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs last season with a 53-29 record and the best home record in the East last season at 29-12. Heading into the upcoming season, the Heat have a win projection of 48.5 o/u this season.
Despite injuries to key players like Butler, Tyler Herro, and Kyle Lowry during the 2022 postseason, the Heat were a missed shot away from winning the Eastern Conference. That would have secured a second trip to the NBA finals in the last three seasons.
Head coach Erik Spoelstra and the Heat are less focused on winning the Southeast Division than they are about peaking at the right time for a deep postseason run. The Heat are still the team to beat in the Southeast, and you can back them at -165 odds to win the division in consecutive seasons.
Butler (21.4 ppg, 5.9 rebounds, 5.5 assists), Tyer Herro (20.7 ppg), and Bam Adebayo (19.1 ppg, 10.1 rebounds) anchor the Heat. Herro won the NBA Sixth Man of the Year award, and he provides instant offense off the bench as the team’s second-best scorer. Herro is the team’s biggest defensive liability when he’s on the court, but they find ways to make up for it.
The Heat selected Nikola Jović with a late first-round pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Jović was considered the top European prospect in last year’s draft, but the 6-foot-11 big man is a work in progress.
The Heat could add Jae Crowder in a trade with the Phoenix Suns. Crowder was an integral part of their run to the 2020 NBA Finals, and he’s the type of 3-and-D veteran that Spoelstra would love to have on the floor in the postseason.
Atlanta Hawks +170
The Atlanta Hawks are the only team in the Southeast that can give the Heat any trouble this season. However, the Hawks are in a team in flux.
The Hawks got hot in the 2021 postseason and secured a trip to the Eastern Conference finals, so they had a lot of expectations heading into last season. The Hawks struggled with a 43-39 record in 2021-22 and only secured the #8 seed through the Play-In Tournament. The Heat easily knocked the Hawks out in five games in the opening round because no one other than Trae Young could consistently find easy buckets.
The Hawks addressed their biggest problem this off-season by shoring up their defense. They acquired Dejounte Murray in a trade with the San Antonio Spurs but had to give up three first-round picks. Murray established himself as one of the best two-way players in the NBA, averaging 21.1 points and 9.2 assists per game last season.
With Murray and Young in the same backcourt, the Hawks now have the first 20/9 tandem in NBA history as the only players to average 20-plus points and at least nine assists per game in the previous season.
The Hawks must figure out what to do with an unhappy John Collins. The big man has been growing more distant from the team after his role in the offensive diminished with the ascension of Young as one of the elite scorers in the NBA. Collins requested a trade last season, and we’ll see if the Hawks finally get rid of him.
With the addition of Murray to bolster the defense, the Hawks are expected to have a much better season than last year, with a win total of 45.5 o/u. The Hawks are the second favorite on the futures board at +170 odds to win the Southeast.
Charlotte Hornets +1400
Since the inception of the Southeast Division at the start of the 2004-05 season, the Charlotte Hornets have never won a division title. They’ll have to wait to finally break through as the top team in the Southeast, because they just don’t have enough firepower to compete with the Heat and the Hawks.
The Hornets start the season without superstar point guard LaMelo Ball, who suffered a Grade 2 sprained ankle and could miss a couple of weeks of action.
The Hornets were already missing their second-best scorer after forward Miles Bridges was arrested for domestic abuse in the off-season. They were about to sign Bridges to a contract extension, but it looks like his career is over while he awaits possible prison time.
Meanwhile, the Hornets need a disgruntled Gordon Hayward more than ever. Hayward wants the Hornets to trade him, but he makes too much money for a guy who constantly gets injured. So it will be tough to find good value for him in a trade.
Team owner Michael Jordan decided to rehire Steve Clifford, whom he fired several seasons ago. He wants Clifford to tighten up the Hornets’ atrocious defense.
The Hornets were in the Play-In Tournament in the last two seasons but failed to secure a spot in the playoffs. They have a projected win total of 33.5 o/u, so the future looks grim in Buzz City.
Washington Wizards +2000
All-Star shooting guard Bradley Beal missed the second half of last season with the Washington Wizards while recovering from wrist surgery. He’s still not 100%, but he’ll be ready to play the season opener.
The Wizards attempted to rebuild the team around Beal, but they’re caught in no man’s land. With a win total projection of 35.5 o/u, the Wizards aren’t good enough to win a championship and are stuck on the playoff bubble as one of the better “bad” teams in the Eastern Conference.
Kyle Kuzma was a role player with the Los Angeles Lakers, but he’s developed into a legit #2 scoring option behind Beal. The Wizards would love to rely on Kristaps Porzingis to boost the offense, but the “Unicorn” is another wasted talent who spends too much time on the injury list. Porzingis will miss the rest of the preseason with an ankle injury, another bad omen for the big man.
Orlando Magic +20000
The Orlando Magic threw everyone a curveball when they selected Paolo Banchero from Duke with the #1 pick in the 2022 NBA Draft. Jabari Smith, Jr. from Auburn was the consensus #1 pick in mock drafts, but he slipped to #3 and went to the Houston Rockets.
The Magic were the worst team in the Eastern Conference last season and the second-worst team two seasons ago. Oddsmakers project the Magic will finish with 26.5 o/u wins this season. The Magic won 21 games in 2020-21 and won just 22 games last season.
The Magic were able to restock their team with top college players through the draft over the past couple of seasons. Recent additions include Franz Wagner, Cole Anthony, and Jalen Suggs. The inexperienced team could be a good team someday, but it’s going to be another long season for the Magic. They’re lumped together with the Detroit Pistons and Indiana Pacers as the worst teams in the Eastern Conference this season.
If the Magic continue to suck, they’ll be in a ripe position to hit the 2023 NBA Draft Lottery. Numerous teams would love to have Victor Wembanyama from France, considered the best NBA prospect in two decades. For Magic fans, perhaps their best hope is to finish with one of the three worst records this season to increase their chances of landing Wembanyama in the lottery.
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